Accept US assistance to monitor fish resources

Dear Editor,
This is in reference to your news item on the US Ambassador’s visit to meet fishermen on the Upper Corentyne (Apr 30). I applaud Ambassador Sarah Lynch’s visit to this remote area. I cannot recollect when was the last time any ambassador, and the top American diplomat credited to the country, visited the Corentyne and held a meeting with business folks and fishermen.
It is not an accident that the Ambassador chose to deliver a message about overfishing. America is deeply worried about an alien power overfishing acquiring rights to fish in waters off the US. Guyanese fishermen are also worried about depleting fish stocks and reduced catch. Guyana should accept the offer of the US to monitor and patrol our waters to protect fish, or else before we are aware, the stock would be severely depleted.
Conversations I had with people who attended the meeting with Her Excellency said they felt most honored for the visit of a diplomat of the most powerful country. Every single person praised Her Excellency for the visit, and hopes to have continuous exchanges with her on fishing and farm issues, as well as on increasing trade between Guyana and America. They want her to visit the Corentyne more often.
I also spoke with other Guyanese who praised the Ambassador for her frank remarks. Berbician-Americans and other Guyanese-Americans I interacted with are also very pleased with Lynch’s visit. It should be noted that more Berbicians and their descendants live in America (and the diaspora) than Guyanese from the other two counties. Every Guyanese-American wants Guyana to strengthen ties with America, and feel Guyana should sign a fishing, security, and trade agreement with the USA.
America has been the greatest guarantor of peace, democracy and stability in Guyana, and of security of our sovereignty. The Ambassador said she visited Upper Corentyne to hear firsthand the views of fisherfolks on the illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in Guyana waters. It is something that also troubles fishermen all over Guyana, as they remarked to me in conversations when I was there a few weeks ago.
She also noted that President Biden is very concerned about climate change and unregulated fishing. The President held a Climate Summit last week, and fishing was also one of the topics discussed. The US will punish countries that don’t regulate their fishing industry, or that allow domestic companies to front for other countries, especially those that the US has signalled as a threat to its interests.
One cannot fool or deceive Uncle Sam, whose intelligence network is wide. The consequences would be severe, and would include cancellation of American visas, like what happened to APNU+AFC politicians who attempted to rig the elections. Guyanese-Americans are deeply troubled by overfishing in Guyana waters, and illegal fishing especially by those fronting for another government. There are complaints of scarcity and higher-than-usual prices of Guyanese fish in neighbourhood stores. Unregulated fishing in our waters hurts Guyanese at home and in the US, and the rest of the diaspora. There is less Guyanese fish in American markets and at home. Prices are also skyrocketing, as I found out in my visits to markets and in engagements with consumers and vendors in New York and in Guyana.
I visited Upper Corentyne in early April, and engaged fishermen. Fishermen are deeply troubled by reduced catch in recent years, and particularly so over the last few months. They complain bitterly about a foreign-owned fishing depot on the East Bank that they fear would further impact on their catch, their income, and on the price of fish for local consumers. Indeed, fish prices have been constantly on the upward tick. That recent visit and inquiries about pricing have led me to conclude that the price of fish is substantially higher on the Corentyne and in Berbice in general than in the Greater Georgetown or urban and West Coast areas. Reduced catch and price of fuel have reduced the income of fishermen as well as fish vendors.
It is very unusual for a diplomat to visit a far off, kind of a remote rural area. And diplomats don’t normally engage local people on domestic issues. It must have been an issue that troubles the US for its Ambassador to visit and to send a strong a message on unregulated fishing. Fishing has become a national security issue. The fishermen should work closely with the US for advice on how to secure their livelihood by not overfishing and allowing the fish stocks to increase.
Now, more than ever, our Government should also team up with the US to monitor fishing. Unregulated fishing does not serve our interests.
Her Excellency Sarah Lynch has been reaching out in a subtle way to Guyanese in several parts of the country, and in addressing issues that have been impacting on their livelihood.
The US is interested in good governance, increased trade and investment, enhanced development of Guyana’s youth and women’s entrepreneurship, and increased security. And the US has been very supportive in these areas; and Guyanese are grateful for the assistance. The Ambassador’s visibility is cheered. She should visit more places and make America’s views known, particularly when the US is displeased with Guyana’s ties with other countries, especially those in the East that threaten US interests.
Guyana’s relationship with the US should be strengthened. I say this from my knowledge and expertise in studying US foreign policy and national security issues. When ties become sour, serious consequences follow, as happened in 1953, 1964, and 2015. The US stood with us in 1992 and 2020 in protecting democracy and allowing a government to be sworn in that won a free and fair election. Our gratitude to the US must be everlasting. Our commitment to the US should trump everything else. Now is the time to reinforce Guyana’s partnership with America by accepting the offer to monitor depletion of our resources.

Yours truly,
Vishnu Bisram