Rear Admiral Felix Alburerque-Compress of the Dominican Republic Navy (left) addresses the opening sessionof the Royal Bahamas Defence Force/Dominican Republic Navy round table discussion on Tuesday at Police Headquarters. Sub-Lieutenant Glen McPhee of the National Intelligence Agency (Bahamas) served as interpreter.
BAHAMIAN law enforcement officials and their counterparts from the Dominican Republic held a second round of discussions on illegal fishing and other issues.
Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage called the outcome of the talks “extremely important” as the Bahamas moves to end illegal poaching in its waters.
He said: “We cannot downplay the long-term effects of illegal poaching, as it can lead to a depletion of our country’s marine resources.
“The economic impact of indiscriminate poaching can touch the core of our livelihood. We must deal with it at all cost, as it is an aggravating situation that is becoming even more problematic to regulate, particularly with the advanced technologies that are being deployed.”
Dr Nottage said law enforcement’s efforts to monitor, capture and hold persons found fishing illegally in Bahamian waters places a strain on the country’s finances and is “very burdensome on our nation’s corrections systems”.
“We are, therefore, pleased to embrace the opportunity presented to co-operate on a resolution to this problem, through friendly dialogue and negotiations with the Dominicans,” he said.
Dr Nottage said as neighbours, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic have a shared interest in maintaining friendly relations.
He said he hopes to see their relationship continue following the dialogue.
The National Security Minister said a high-level delegation from the Bahamas, headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and including public and private sector representatives, recently travelled to the Dominican Republic to participate in “very high-level, formal, bilateral talks”.
Matters discussed at those meetings included: trade and investment; agriculture production and marketing; commerce; and maritime law enforcement.
“The discussions were very forthcoming and productive, and led to the convening of this round table discussion to continue the dialogue with an operational team from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and representatives of the Dominican Republic Navy.
The focus of today’s discussions will be on information exchange and co-operation with respect to maritime law enforcement,” Dr Nottage said.
“The presence of our Dominican neighbours here today to assist in framing an understanding that we can all live with in dealing with our maritime law enforcement issues, is indicative of their understanding and sensitivity to the problem of illegal poaching that the Bahamas faces.
“We have come to realise over the years that if we are going to protect our natural resources and prevent nefarious trafficking activities, we must move with deliberate haste towards making guarding our waters a priority,” he said.
“It is anticipated that at the end of the day, we should have a draft framework of a Memorandum of Understanding that could be subsequently approved by the relevant authorities, and which would be used to guide the actions of each country in areas discussed. This should place our countries in a better position to begin to arrest substantively, the problems of maritime law enforcement and illegal trafficking.”