French Guiana mulling license to control Martiniquan, Guadeloupian fishers
French Guianese officials are deliberating whether to impose a license on Guadeloupian and Martiniquan fishermen who enter the South American country's exclusive economic zone to fish for red snapper.
French Guiana is the only French territory in South America, and like Martinique and Guadeloupe, is an overseas territory of France, still under European jurisdiction. Located to the east of Suriname and north of Brazil, it is approximately 83,000 square kilometers in total area.
A news report in the publication France-Guyane, entitled “West Indian Fishers Viewed as Looters,” stated that at a meeting of the Guiana Assembly, French Guiana President Rodolphe Alexandre was questioned about reports that Guadeloupe had plans to subsidize the building of an 18-meter vessel for the express purpose of fishing for snapper in French Guiana's waters.
Councillor Gauthier Horth, who raised the question, was quoted as saying that it was unacceptable for Guadeloupian fishermen to enter French Guiana's waters and thus enter into direct competition with local fishermen, a competition he described as “unfair to local fishers” and “of no benefit to French Guiana.”
In response to the growing outcry, the regional fishing committee has proposed that the Guiana Assembly look into setting up a system of licensing for French West Indian fishers similar to the one imposed by the European Commission for Venezuelan fishermen who fish for snapper off of French Guiana. Under that arrangement, 75 percent of the snapper caught by the Venezuelans must be offloaded in French Guiana, where it is subsequently sold by local businesses.
The regional fishing committee also made known that Martiniquan fishermen currently fishing for snapper in French Guiana's waters are able to sell the fish for EUR 20.00 (USD 24.54) per kilo in their home port, in contrast to a price of EUR 6.00 (USD 7.36) per kilo in French Guiana.
Georges-Michel Karam, president of the regional fishing committee, urged French Guiana’s government to impose licensing requirements on Guadeloupian and Martiniquan fishermen.
“The idea is that the West Indians are made subject to the same obligations as the Venezuelans,” he said. “It is necessary that French Guiana get something out of this.”
The news article concluded by noting that the waters of French Guiana are part of France's maritime space and, as such, there is little French Guiana can do to stop fishers from the French West Indies entering there to fish. It also noted the French West Indian fishers are equipped to catch snapper in much larger quantities than the Guianese can.