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View From Afar: Poaching Is Stealing, Pure And Simple

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John Issa

By JOHN ISSA

I NOTED the statement by the head of the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance calling for the sinking of unauthorised vessels caught fishing in Bahamian waters. The Alliance made some very valid points.

This got me thinking about why, what is in effect grand larceny of the nation’s assets, is not treated as such.

Then another question came to mind and it is this. Why should we assume, when a vessel illegally fishing in our waters is caught, that it has been caught the first time they have done so?

Would it not be reasonable to assume that they have been doing so for some time and that they just now got caught. Who knows the value of the previous hauls that have been taken illegally?

Then more questions came to mind. Why do we still call it poaching? Is it not just theft? Is it not the same as if one just cut down trees on public land for lumber or one just removed lovely plants from public parks or roadsides?

What would removing sand from public beaches be called? How would these activities be punished? Also just imagine the reaction if these activities were done by foreigners.

Fishing is an important part of the Bahamian economy and provides an honest living for many Bahamians. Additionally the fresh seafood is delicious and part of our culture and heritage.

Let’s call poaching what it really is - stealing - and let’s severely punish those who steal. Maybe we should not sink the boats but seize them until a fine equal to the value of the boat and the catch is paid.

Consider how we treat foreigners who illegally enter The Bahamas, not to steal but to seek a better life and then compare it to how we treat those who illegally enter our waters to steal.

• John Issa is executive chairman of SuperClubs. He writes regularly for The Tribune.

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