FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell will lead a delegation to Santo Domingo today for “high level bilateral talks” with the Dominican government on the long standing and vexing problem of Dominican
fishermen poaching in Bahamian waters.
These talks, when announced by the government, have come under some criticism by the Bahamas Commercial Fishing Alliance as a “waste of time.”
However, Mr Mitchell said that the government of the Bahamas has an obligation to protect its territorial borders and economy from all illegal encroachment and activities.
“We must live peacefully with our neighbours and therefore all conflicts must be addressed through diplomatic means, but we must forcefully make our position known on these matters. That is what responsible government’s do. It is instructive to also take note of the concrete steps the government is taking to increase the capacity of its relevant agencies to better deal with these vexing problems,” Mr Mitchell said.
Included in the delegation are National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage and Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government Minister V Alfred Gray. The delegation leaves Nassau today and is expected back on Thursday.
In its charter for governance, the PLP promised to strengthen the country’s border patrol and protect the local fishing industry for Bahamians. Mr Mitchell spoke to the Dominican Republic leader during his visit there for the presidential inauguration and this trip is a follow up to that initial meeting.
Further, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage announced aggressive initiatives to strengthen the capacity of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to better control our borders with plans to increase the manpower of the Defence Force by some 140 recruits in this fiscal year. He also announced a $200 million asset acquisition and technical training initiative. These programmes and initiatives are in line with the commitments made in the Party’s Charter for Governance.