$99M surveillance vessel to begin operation in three months -Minister Mustapha
Government is accelerating efforts to operationalise the new Department of Fisheries’ marine observation vessel, to effectively patrol Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and increase the monitoring of fishing activities.
The $99 million Cavalli (Caranx hippos), which was commissioned in June 2020, is currently docked at the headquarters of the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Coast Guard, in Ruimveldt, Georgetown.
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, during a visit to the facility on Friday, said the vessel would be operational in three months.
Some $40 million was allocated from the 2020 Emergency Budget to complete the purchase. Funds have also been set aside in Budget 2021 to procure equipment and other necessities for the boat.
“Hopefully, we can get that equipment purchased as early as possible and also to recruit staff. We have encountered some difficulties in recruiting the staff because we hadn’t many responses when the advertisement went out.
I have asked the Coast Guard to help us point out some of those former Coast Guards who would have worked before, and if they are interested, we can recruit them to help us manage this vessel,” Minister Mustapha said.
The Ministry is expected to spend some $51 million to fully equip the boat. Minister Mustapha said works must move apace, adding that “many times vessels come into Guyana’s water and we do not know about these things.”
The equipment that would be procured include compasses, signal flares, and satellite phones to be used in signal-free zones.
“The main stumbling block at the moment is to get competent staff to work on the vessel. I am hoping that we could work along with the Coast Guard and other agencies, so that they can help point us into the right direction so that we can get those skilled people,” the Minister relayed.
He said the new vessel will not operate in isolation, but will assist the already robust GDF team that police the waterways.
Minister Mustapha added that the Government is looking to acquire more marine vessels, since Guyana will see more offshore international operations as a result of the booming petroleum sector.