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Shootout At Sea: Dominican ‘Poachers’ Held After Exchanging Fire With Rbdf Vessel

HMBS Madeira

HMBS Madeira

DOMINICAN poachers engaged the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in a shoot-out on the high seas before more than 100 of them were arrested after escaping into Cuban waters.

According to a press release from the RBDF, no Bahamians were hurt during the shoot-out, however 124 Dominican crew members are in custody and three “motherships” have been seized.

The arrests capped off a dramatic three-day joint operation between the RBDF, the United States’ Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Patrol.

On Wednesday, a US Coast Guard cutter, with a RBDF ship-rider on board, reported sighting a fishing vessel from the Dominican Republic north of Haiti.

The Dominicans aboard the vessel indicated that they were heading to The Bahamas, the RBDF said.

After being notified, the RBDF was directed to intercept the Dominican vessel in the event it entered Bahamian waters. HMBS Madeira later spotted the three vessels at daybreak on Saturday with skiffs in the water near Cay Lobos – a small cay on the southern edge of the Great Bahama Bank, 12 nautical miles north of central Cuba.

“Madeira deployed its sea boat with a boarding team to apprehend the motherships before they entered Cuban waters,” the RBDF said. “The Dominican vessels opened fire on the approaching boarding team while fleeing into Cuban waters. Madeira’s boarding party returned fire in self-defence.

“One of the three steel-hulled vessels ran aground in Cuban waters while trying to escape. None of the defence force boarding team members was injured during the incident. The defence force immediately alerted the Cuban Border Patrol of the incident and informed the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which sought the assistance of the Cuban government in apprehending the vessels.”

Cuba’s Border Patrol apprehended the three vessels with 124 crew members on Saturday and turned them over to HMBS Durward Knowles, which was on patrol in the southeastern Bahamas investigating a separate report of a suspicious vessel in the area.

This is the second Dominican poaching apprehension for the year involving HMBS Madeira. On July 8, the ship apprehended a Dominican fishing vessel attempting to flee into Cuban waters. The captain and 46 crew members from that boat were subsequently caught, charged and fined $53,000 each totaling more than $2.3 million dollars.

Additionally, the captain of the Dominican vessel, Radhames Hernandez, was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

In November 2016, HMBS Madeira also apprehended two Dominican vessels in adverse weather conditions in the Old Bahama Channel. During the incident, one of the vessels attempted to escape by ramming the RBDF’s vessel, which incurred structural damage, and one crew member was injured.

The vessel completed repairs in February at a cost of approximately $250,000. The two foreign captains and 50 crew members involved were arrested and each fined $50,000 for the captains and $20,000 each for the crew, for an approximate total of $1.4 million in fines.

The first offenders were sentenced to six months in prison and second offenders were sentenced to one year. The captain of the vessel that rammed Madeira was sentenced to16 months in prison, the RBDF said.

RBDF Commodore Tellis Bethel expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Cuban Border Patrol and the prompt response of the Cuban Embassy in Nassau in coordinating the recent apprehension and handing over of the Dominican poachers. He also commended the brave men and women who are a part of the RBDF, who risk their lives daily to defend their country.

The RBDF also said in May of this year, the agency and Cuban Border Patrol officials met in Cuba and discussed how their units could enhance their collaborative law enforcement efforts during the 5th Round of Talks on Migration between The Bahamas and Cuba.

Comments

cx 2 months ago

So the poachers actually told the us coast guard they were going to poach. Are they not realizing what they are doing is illegal or do they not simply care.

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tell_it_like_it_is 2 months ago

Hold on though... poaching is one thing (you come in Bahamian waters without any weapons and steal our marine resources).

But I don't think "shoot-outs" should simply get a fine or just a few months. To me that's attempted murder or at the very least assault with a deadly weapon. These guys need much harsher penalties than just paying money for nearly killing Bahamian officers doing their job!

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Sickened 2 months ago

Correct! Attempted murder.

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Sickened 2 months ago

If these guys are willing to shoot at a huge defense force boat then sure as shit they have been shooting at our fishermen all these years.

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Sickened 2 months ago

Did our defense force return fire? Was the big gun at the front of the boat (assuming we have one) being manned at the time of engagement - as a precaution? Does the gun even work? Or did we just give them warning after warning to stop shooting, until they ran out of bullets?

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John 2 months ago

If you go to the Arawak Port sometimes you will see people collecting shipments of fish and seafood that was imported. Where are some of these shipments coming from? Dominican Republic! So they come in and steal our marine resources, are brazen enough to shoot at the Defense Force boats who try to stop them and turns around and sells the fish back to us what they stole. Does the Bahamas or Bahamians ever win? Ever?

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BahamaPundit 2 months ago

This is a bigger problem than a few bullets. If these DR fellas keep this up, our oceans will be completely depleted and wiped out. In Africa, when poachers try to hunt rhinos they are shot on sight. I think we need to up our military game or they will keep on coming. Bahamas needs to put on some big boy pants like Cuba. Being passive is no longer an option if we are to survive.

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bogart 2 months ago

Damn lousy shooting by the RBDF...,!!!.,how in do world dey can provide security for the nation...????...THEY NEEDS TO HAVE SOME OF THE POLICE ON BOARD DEFENCE FORCE VESSELS...MANNING THE GUNS....TO STOP THE INVADING ATTACKING FOREIGN VESSELS SHOOTING..TO KILL BAHAMIANS.......,!!.l

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voiceofthepeople 2 months ago

TThe Bahamas , Needs to update its laws of the sea....to stop the boat stealing too . The thief's in Abaco are going to effect the economy they gonna drive the tourist out of this country , we are not the only beautiful place in the world that rich people can invest in. Soon we will be like them other high crime islands where people stop going because it is un-safe.

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John 2 months ago

And not all the boats reported stolen in Abaco are actually stolen. There is/was a scam going on where a person would bring expensive boats to the Northern Bahamas. They would sell these boats off for a fraction of the value, then go back to the US and report the boat stolen. And file an insurance claim. And so lately insurance companies have been hiring private investigators to track down missing boats, and of course, the incidence of missing or stolen boats have decreased.

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EasternGate 2 months ago

We need to know if the RBDF is under orders to shoot only in self defense. It's about time the RBDF sinks one of the F### on the high seas!

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SP 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Notice that the Dominicans didn't shoot at the Cubans! How much more did they need to do before " self-defense" kicked in?

The Dam Dominicans need a serious taste of their own medicine.

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Clamshell 2 months ago

Has the Bahamas considered taking this issue before the United Nations, to seek economic sanctions against these “pirates” from the Dominican Republic? This is, in the end, a 21st Century version of piracy.

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TheMadHatter 2 months ago

I think these are all racist rants against Dominican Republic citizens because of their brighter skin colour. If they were Haitians, the officers would be out there helping them load the crayfish out the traps into the boats and giving them some free Kalik.

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realitycheck242 2 months ago

May God always protect the men and woman of the RBDF......how times changed...Three countries ..Three different names for their costal protection ...Cuban = Border patrol, Bahamas =Defence Force and United States = Coast Guard... and To think that May 10th 1980 could have been avoided if we had this knid of cooperation 38 years ago.!!

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BahamaPundit 2 months ago

Unrelated to this but on my mind, has anybody else noticed how quiet Minnis and the FNM is on rebuilding Ragged Island? My prediction is that the FNM have already cut a deal for China to rebuild Ragged Island and provide a huge loan trap of a billion dollars. Part of the deal is that China would own the Ragged Island port (which they would likely turn into a military base of sorts). The project was green lit, until the US dumped water on the fire by declaring China to be a foe of the US (Pence speech). These are just my predictions not fact! I am writing them down in case they happen, so we can be prepared. Knowledge is power!

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BahamaPundit 2 months ago

I implore the Bahamas Government to pass a law that no foreign Government, namely China, shall be allowed to own key infrastructure in The Bahamas, and no Bahamian Government shall be permitted to enter potential loan trap agreements with China. I have looked at The Pointe just now and it is very impressive. It is also scary to know that this key feature of the Bahamian economy is owned by a foreign communist power. In hindsight, The British Colonial should never have been sold to China. The Pointe should have been built and owned by the Bahamian people. The Pointe gives China far too much leverage over the cruiseship port, Baystreet and The Bahamas economy! I believe The Pointe will turn out to be our "island in the South China Sea moment" (Perry was our Obama that turned a blind eye), and we will regret the sale for decades to come.

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SP 2 months ago

This is a big joke. The Bahamas is a bullshit country. The Dominicans obviously have absolutely no respect for RBDF!

Think they would be alive today had they opened fire on a U.S. or Cuban vessel? Why weren't the offending Dominicans shot?

We need to confiscate their three “motherships” and everything else they have. STOP PLAYING with the D.R., they're NOT playing with us!!

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bogart 2 months ago

As for government to pass laws on foreign govt ownership ...much concern was placed on the PI hotel with best preferred terms arrangement employing massive labour force.....but government ....rather politicians who watch massivive mismanagement of taxpayer money in the job of managing a 10 billion dollar evonomy........and nobody joing to jail....no investogations for fraud.........nobody fired for rank incompetamce....none responsible for massive yearly subventions.......will have no choice but to prosiitute the country toget a few dollars to run da country....shareholders done spoke 35 to 4 to change tings....

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BahamaPundit 2 months ago

Re Bogart I always assumed there was a provision somewhere in Bahamian investment policy or laws that a foreign country/government cannot own large infrastructure or commence business in the Bahamas due to sovereignty issues. Do you know of anything like this?

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DEDDIE 2 months ago

What Bahamians are unaware of is that Dominicans believe that the Bahamas belongs to them. They are of the opinion that The Bahamas was stolen from the Spanish by the British. They consider themselves to be direct descendants of the Spanish and by extension they view The Bahamas as stolen property from them. I had an opportunity to raise poaching as a concern to a Dominican and this is what I was told.

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Bonefishpete 2 months ago

"And not all the boats reported stolen in Abaco are actually stolen."

John instead of complaining about Americans all the time you should be grateful for their help. If the USCG wasn't in the area then the RBDF wouldn't even known about the Dominican Poachers.

Boat thefts in Abaco are down because the Abaconian people got tired of the bad publicity and pressured the authorities to act.

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Rubi 2 months ago

Deddie, you are incorrect in your assessment, plain wrong actually and I am Dominican. We are mostly of color and we don’t think the Bahamas is ours or have ever claimed that, we love the Bahamas and it’s people and I’m sorry to hear there’s Dominicans poaching around Bahamian waters and shooting at the RBDF. We have 10 million people on our side of the island, there’s going to be bad apples.

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Jetflt 2 months ago

Open fire on the RBDF, ram the RBDF vessel and all the Captain gets is 16 and 18 months?!?! Our laws are a a JOKE! You try opening fire or ramming an American Coast Guard cutter. They’ll blow your ass right out of the water or sink your boat right where you are and if you’re lucky they’ll hoist your sorry ass out of the water and you’ll be doing serious time in the big house! Is it any wonder the Dominicans keep returning?! We really are a joke!

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BahamaPundit 2 months ago

What Bahamians need to realise is there is no such thing as territory: You own only that which you fight to protect.

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bogart 1 month, 4 weeks ago

RE BahamaPundit..G.ood point ...what yinna figthts to ptotect.... On the FDI...investments that encroach...imperil..etc The word "strategic".....seems to fall under ambit of the Economic znd Planning Unit in ....While there are the protections for local businesses in certain areas...this has been questions raised on "fronting" which has to be proved......In small countries like the Bahamas ...I do not bdlieve any laws exist to intervene to correct imbalances in foreign companies having policies... measures to overtly affect direct govt policies.....my take say current on the banking control is when foreign banks HQ domiciled elsewhere have local follow certain paths in business policy plan to ...say give loans in say certain areas say ...vacation loans...while govt policy is pushing small business .."strip mining".areas for maximum profits....actions pf Directors....paid by these companies... .....It is "business" to craft policies to steer ...lead...anyone...countries ...for maximum yields and....gain long term stretegic objectibes.. .etc...foreign businesses can eadily place themselves in positions of influence...size of labour force hired...and make redundant say 2,000....later....donations rtc...to have govts prostitute demselves....or railroad policies... Clear lack of legislation....anslysts....anti competition....Trust...Ombudsman...Consumer Finamcial Protection...Independent Bank Regulator...Financial Conduct Authority...encourage bad business

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