By LEANDRA ROLLE
SEVENTEEN Dominican fishermen were apprehended yesterday by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the US Coast Guard for poaching violations in waters near Ragged Island.
In a press statement released yesterday, RBDF officials noted that the 76-ft Dominican vessel was spotted in the Cochinos Banks, Ragged Island by a US aircraft.
After the RBDF and USCG were alerted, RBDF officials said HMBS Cascarilla under the command of Senior Lieutenant Samantha Hart was then dispatched to the area.
The vessel, which contained a large quantity of fishery products, and its occupants were detained by RBDF marines and will be transported to the capital for further questioning.
According to RBDF officials, this is first set of Dominican poachers to be apprehended for the year.
Last year, the RBDF said they apprehended a total of 190 Dominican poachers along with four Dominican fishing vessels and five small go-fast type boats.
Speaking to The Tribune last week, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said some boats seized from Dominican poachers will be distributed by the government to Bahamian fishermen, who were affected by Hurricane Dorian.
He said: “There are 36 vessels in total. Some of the vessels will go to those in the sponging industry, five of the vessels will go to the national dive programme to increase Bahamian divers in the sector and others to fishermen.”
Mr Pintard also explained that Cabinet has agreed for larger vessels to be sunk due to their poor condition and the possibility of these vessels being mistaken by the RBDF as poaching vessels if they were given to Bahamian fishermen.
But, in addition to the ministry’s plans, Mr Pintard said the government is finding creative ways to ensure that Bahamian fishermen in Abaco and Grand Bahama are able to get back on their feet.