By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Fisheries representatives yesterday called on the government to address “an ‘illegal racket” infiltrating a sector that should be reserved for “Bahamians only”.
Keith Carroll, vice-president of the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA), told Tribune Business that Bahamians are being made to pay the price of illegal conch harvesting methods employed by Dominican fishermen.
Calling on the government to get to the root of the problem, he charged: “We have been saying the same thing for the past 25 years. Now the Bahamian fishermen have to suffer. They have to address the issue with the Dominicans.
“Bahamian fishermen complain about them everywhere you go. Their harvesting methods are unsustainable. You have the poachers and then you have those coming here on these work permits. Fishing should be for Bahamians only. It’s a bi-racket. You have these guys getting married on Saturday and then they’re working on a boat. It’s a serious racket.”
The “price” cited by Mr Carroll refers to recent remarks by Michael Pintard, minister of agriculture and marine resources, who said the government plans to marginally decrease the conch export quotas this year. Recent studies has revealed a severe depletion in the Queen Conch population.
Mr Carroll said the crawfish season had shown positive signs, despite reports of poachers returning to Bahamian waters. He credited the Royal Bahamas Defence Force for its work in arresting poachers, and called for more patrols to help curb the issue.