By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE 2012-13 crawfish season has been rough, according to Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) president Adrian LaRoda, who yesterday said bad weather, market prics and poaching were all to blame for the downturn.
Yet Mr LaRoda told Tribune Business he was still hopeful that the industry could yield its traditional 5-5.5 million pound seasonal haul.
“Although we’re still hoping we would yield the normal catch, the numbers have been a bit rough,” he explained.
“We have had bad weather to contend with, there are poaching issues, and the market hasn’t rebounded as we would have expected. The prices haven’t been where they should be, and add to that higher than normal fuel costs, it’s not going as well as fishermen would have liked.
“Fishermen are always grateful for what they can get, but we have seen better days.”
The 2012-2013 crawfish season runs from August 1,2012, to March 31, 2013.
Among the issues plaguing the Bahamian fishing industry, Mr LaRoda said poaching was by far the biggest threat, estimating that poachers could harvest as much as 9 million pounds of crawfish per year in the Bahamas.
“Poaching is the number one threat to our fisheries. While we conservatively estimate that poachers carry about 2-2.5 million pounds out of our water every year,” he said.
“I would say that it probably is two to three times that, given the amount of boats we see each year and the amount they are able to harvest. This is putting a hurting on us because our fishermen are putting the apparatus out there and they are not getting the return.”
Mr Laroda added: “We are hopeful that we would still be able to reach our traditional numbers of the 5-5.5 million pounds. I am hopeful that we would. We can harvest more lobster, but marketable size product is what our fishermen harvest. If you just want to go out to sea for lobster you can get all kinds of lobster, but that’s not how we operate. We want marketable size product that we don’t have to break the law in harvesting.”