Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries (REBYC-II LAC)

REBYC II LAC Continues to support Coast Guard Training on Fisheries Inspections in Suriname

With support from the REBYC-II LAC project, the Surinamese Coast Guard continued its training on “at-sea inspections” as part of a strengthening process focused on fisheries law compliance. This is an important component of bycatch management and enforcement of fishing regulations.

In September 2013, the Surinamese government established the Coast Guard Authority. The Coast Guard has as its mission to prevent, identify and act in emergency situations, and to combat undesirable behavior in all national inland and marine waters. In particular, one of the main Coast Guard mandates is to prevent illegal fishing and protect the natural resources in Surinamese waters. As fishers often operate far out at sea, compliance with certain restrictions can only be effectively inspected through at-sea patrols by a competent authority such as the SCG.

According to Suriname law, fishing is only allowed with a valid license, which in turn, is subject to license conditions. Therefore, fisheries training and inspections performed by the Coast Guard is focused on compliance with:

(1)   possession of a valid fishing license

Each fishing boat needs a valid fisheries licence to operate. Fishing licences are issues by the LVV Fisheries Department and need to be renewed each year. Licences are specific to each type of fishery.

(2)   compliance with license conditions

License conditions specify the restrictions imposed on each fishery, including: the target species and allowable bycatch, minimum landing sizes, fishing gear (mesh size, use of bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices), fishing areas and seasons.

Before heading out to sea, the SCG personel was trained on different aspects of fishing regulations. Fisheries Department staff also participated to assist the Coast Guard inspectors, and to make notes for the evaluation session. The learning syllabus for SCG staff included (but was not limited to):

  • The Suriname fishing licence system
  • Background of the different types of fisheries in Suriname
  • License conditions that apply to each fishery
  • Inspecting proper installation of TEDs and BRDs
  • Measuring mesh size
  • Species identification

The syllabus served as a basis for the development of a complete manual for at-sea fisheries inspections, to be used by the Coast Guard.

Preliminary Results

The two-day mission to perform pilot at-sea fisheries inspections, in a cooperation between the Suriname Coast Guard and the Fisheries Department was in many ways a success.

-       In total, nine fishing vessel inspections were carried out during the mission, including five trawlers and four artisanal boats

-       The SCG vessels provided a very modern, safe and comfortable platform for fisheries inspections at sea. Due to the boats very powerful radar system and high cruising speed, boats could be located and tracked down very efficiently.

-       SCG response time to boarding fishing vessels was about 5 minutes, which allows immediate response to a wide variety of situations.

-       The SCG staff onboard were well-trained, yielding very efficient inspections

-       The SCG staff was eager to learn all aspects of fisheries-inspections, and due to the fact that different boats of each type (trawler and artisanal) were inspected during the mission, the staff had the opportunity to rotate responsibilities during an inspection operation

As the mission’s primary aim was training on at sea fisheries inspections, no legal actions were taken this time against violators of the license conditions.