Twelve Guyanese fishermen remain in Venezuelan custody after their fishing vessel was seized by Venezuela in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone last week, triggering more diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Late on Monday, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd, held discussions with his Venezuelan counterpart.
The Guyana Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the virtual meeting was cordial and the Venezuelan Foreign Minister assured that the crew members were being treated with the utmost respect for their human rights.
It is unclear when the 12 Guyanese crew members will be released as Venezuela appears set to take them to Court to face charges for illegal fishing although they were within Guyana’s exclusive economic zone.
Venezuela has claimed that the two fishing vessels were in its “undisputed” waters and that the fishermen were operating illegally. Guyana has rejected that notion.
Guyana maintains that it was the Venezuelan Navy that illegally crossed over into Guyana’s economic zone and arrested the fishermen and detained their boats.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd also met with the owners of the two fishing vessels on Monday as they expressed their worry about the safety of their crew.
The Government of Guyana has moved to inform the international community of Venezuela’s actions, which comes just weeks after the Venezuelan government issued a decree claiming maritime space that belongs to Guyana.
The seizure and detainment of the Guyanese fishing vessels and their crews also follows a recent joint patrol by the Guyana Coast Guard and the US Coast Guard in an operation that was targeting illegal fishing and other illegal activities within Guyana’s waters.