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Tougher Penalties Plan For Poachers

Michael Pintard

Michael Pintard

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net 

THE Fisheries Act is currently being reviewed by an advisory committee which will present recommendations to the government in October over possible stiffer penalties for poachers, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said yesterday.  

“This government is absolutely committed to significant penalties for captains of these vessels as well as their crew,” Mr Pintard said.

“And that entails not just increasing the fines, but also prison time.” 

Mr Pintard said the government wants to send a “strong message” to everyone engaged in poaching, ranging from American sports fishermen to trade fishermen from the Dominican Republic. 

“We should also say though that Bahamian fishermen have also been guilty of unsafe practices,” Mr Pintard added. “The season has just opened and a number of arrests have in fact been made. While we want all of these businesses to succeed, we don’t want them to succeed at all costs.” 

Mr Pintard declined to say how much the penalties will increase by, simply stating they will be “substantial”.

His comments came at a press conference at the Ministry of Agriculture to announce the Bahamas spiny lobster became the first Caribbean fishery in the world to receive the Marine Stewardship Council’s certification of sustainability.

Mr Pintard described this honour as “one of the world’s most recognised and reputable seafood certifications.” 

The $90m Bahamian lobster industry employs approximately 9,000 people. This MSC certification verifies to the world that the Bahamian lobster is sustainable. According to a press release, this “increases demand” and “secures international markets” for the sale of the product. 

“The lobster tails are now eligible to carry the internationally recognised MSC blue fish label, which makes it easy for consumers to know that they’re choosing seafood that is as good for them as it is for the ocean,” the press release continued. 

This project was nine years in the making and a multi-agency effort. MSC certification was granted after a detailed 19-month assessment was completed. 

Edison Deleveaux, acting director of fisheries, noted the “bulk” of the financing for the endeavour came from the Bahamas Marine Exporters Association, a voluntary association which was formed in 2010. 

When asked by reporters if there are plans to have other fisheries become MSC certified, Mr Deleveaux said not currently. 

“This is a nine-year project. And it encompasses not only expertise but also financing,” Mr Deleveaux said. 

“We have begun with lobster, there are other fisheries that may come on stream later on, but now…the primary concern has been the lobster fishery.” 

According to Mr Pintard, another benefit of the MSC certification is “enhanced access” to foreign markets, which is expected to translate into long-term benefits for “all involved in the fishery”. 

However, Mr Pintard admitted the certification does not mean “our fishery management system is perfect”. Other issues persist in the industry, including illegal, underreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, by both local and foreign fishermen.

Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Tellis Bethel was also present at yesterday’s press conference. 

He reiterated that RBDF patrols have increased, and said the organisation is “taking some long-term measures” to help sustain the fisheries industry. This includes the decentralisation of its operations, inclusive of the establishment of bases in Inagua and Ragged Island. 

“Additionally, we are seeking to improve our technological capabilities,” Mr Bethel said. “Within a few weeks we would have installed our first coastal radar on the island of Inagua. And that’s a long-term plan for the installation of a series of radars at strategic locations throughout our chain of islands.” 

He noted the minister of national security, with government support, has recently approved “the establishment of a multi-agency drone programme to also assist various agencies, including agriculture and fisheries as well as the local police.”

“That programme initially is expected to be launched by the end of this year,” the commodore said. 

“There is a collaborative effort and certainly it’s not one agency that can solve this problem, dealing with over 100,000 square miles of water.”  

Comments

OriginalBey 1 week ago

Best news all day. The ministry should confiscate the vessels and equipment, double the fines and jail these thieves. Fox Hill wold be an awesome experience or should i write deterrent to them returning. They can return home and write a best-seller.

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bogart 1 week ago

Yadda..yadda...yadda...more talk bout gan happen in da future......dis been goin on ever since like dem people who suppose to publicize dem politician financial business an aint for one reason or an odder.....or likes conch poisoning at Potters Cay dat keeps happening year after year.....or like....when it happen it happen....aint gon makes no difference.....REALITY IS....those Dominican fishermen have nothin to lose....seems noone will waste patrol boat provisioning fuel to stop their people...actually provides jobs for many dead pore Dominicans...they dont care about devestating Bahamian reefs, selective fishing....they will strip destroy...in perpetuity all regeneration of fish stock..affecting system...throwing them in Fox Hill is better conditions they came from....owner of these lucrative vessels tjat strip mine our waters....will just buy more vessels an allegedly armed and hire more pore fishermen.....we have had Bahamian Marine sailers losing their lives over illegal fishing boats....Bahamian Defence National boats...rammed...Officers who boarded illegal vessels kidnapped...our fishermen run out of their own fishing grounds....Bahamian fishermen told not to confront illegal fishermen an vessels.......time to get an armed Air Defence Wing patrol airplanes to get the job done....for the millions of dollars in boats that dont move ...we could have dozens of Defence planes...!!!!

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themessenger 1 week ago

Foreign fishing vessels apprehended in Bahamian waters, no problem! Remove crew and catch then sink by gunfire, plenty new artificial reefs for new crawfish and grouper habitats. Heavily fine, deport or incarcerate crew, put proceeds from sale of catch back into national marine parks system for scientific research and conservation.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week ago

Who is Pintard trying to fool by touting the blue MSC label as verification that the Bahamian lobster is sustainable? With just a little research he would know that this non-profit's board of trustees is stacked with individuals who have very close ties to seafood distributors, wholesalers and retailers around the world. MSC derives 76% of its income from logo licensing its blue label to major seafood brands. In other words they derive significant revenue from licensing their logo to seafood brands like our crawfish. Why doesn't Mr Pintard tell us how much MSC has donated over the past 20 years, by way of charitable contributions, to local and international organizations that are truly concerned and actually at sea trying to help ensure the sustainability of our crawfish?

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sheeprunner12 1 week ago

The Bahamian lobster fishermen are out there now looking for the scraps after the Dominicans already poached in the off-season ........... SMH

What he saying about that??????

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DDK 1 week ago

These Ministers are all talk and no action, at least in areas that would be of benefit to the Bahamian people. The only time we see any real action is when they take to the floor and do Da Back Step.

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