By Natario McKenzie
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) president Adrian LaRoda estimated yesterday that some $100m worth of fisheries product was being lost to poaching annually, telling Tribune Business that the issue remains the biggest challenge facing the sector.
Mr LaRoda told Tribune Business : "We still lose about $20m worth of spiny lobster each year to poaching. When we look at the other marine products, all told it about $100m. People seem to forget the amount of grouper and deep water scale fish that we lose to poaching every year."
Mr LaRoda said that while the outlook for this crawfish season likely would not be made clear until month's end, Bahamian fishermen were "optimistic" and anticipating a good season. "We are optimistic and we are looking forward to a good season. Last year was pretty good an we are hoping for the same this year," said Mr LaRoda.
"Poaching is always and continues to be the biggest concern for us. The acquisition of new boats for the Defense Force's fleet has helped tremendously. They have the ability to do more patrols but we would like to see them have even more assets. I believe that they are still under-equipped to do the kind of patrols we feel is adequate for our waters," said Mr LaRoda, adding, "I think they need at least 20 vessels to adequately patrol our waters."
"They would need at any one point at least five vessels in the southern Bahamas. It is a vast area. They are doing their best and because of their presence poaching has decreased. It is not as bad as it was three years ago and poachers are taking different tactics now. We may not be able to eliminate it but we need to reduce it drastically."