By YOURI KEMP
Senior fisheries executives yesterday argued that the prime minister's $11m Dorian damages figure had "significantly" under-estimated the storm's impact on the sector.
Keith Carroll, the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance's (BCFA) vice-chairman, who is also co-chairman of the Fisheries Advisory Committee at the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, and Paul Mailis, director of the National Fisheries Association of The Bahamas, both questioned the values given by Dr Hubert Minnis.
Mr Carroll told Tribune Business: "It could be more than that $11m stated by the prime minister. Significantly more than that. I know a lot of fishing boats are damaged and destroyed.
"One fisherman lost all four of his boats, and that may cost him about $1m easy. The company that built his boats is out of business now. He had those boats built back in the late 1980s; they were three 55 feet Defender Yachts and one 42 foot Defender Yacht. The 55 footers cost about $300,000 a piece back in the late 1980s. God knows what it would cost to get boats of that scale and capacity today."
Mr Mailis, agreeing with Mr Carroll, said the $11m quoted by the Prime Minister may not be a complete estimate. He suggested that what the Prime Minister could be quoting is the building damage alone, and not the potential loss of revenue and other particular details.
The Prime Minister yesterday told the House of Assembly: "Thus far, two assessments of the fisheries sector have been conducted on Grand Bahama, and one on mainland Abaco.
"Four damage assessment reports have also been received from Moores Island. The total estimated damages to the fisheries sector to-date, based on preliminary assessments, amount to almost $11 million.
"Fishers have lost boats, outboard engines, fishing gear inclusive of lobster and stone crab traps, fish pots, condominiums, casitas, air compressors diving gear, rods and reels," Dr Minnis added.
"The land-based seafood processing facilities on both islands have also been seriously impacted with five plants on Grand Bahama and one on Abaco receiving catastrophic damage to physical plants, storage areas and inventory."
Mr Mailis, though, said that from what he understands from the Bahamas Fisheries Product Booklet 2018: "The export of the duty on crawfish alone is roughly $11m. Abaco and Grand Bahama contribute a significant amount to that $11m, and generate somewhere around $75m of seafood exports with $67m in lobster exports alone. Of this $67m about $1m is earned in royalties."
He added that from his understanding, while he was engaged in post-Dorian assessments on Abaco and Grand Bahama: "One plant alone in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, has $6m in damages alone." Mr Mailis said there was at least $9m in plant losses combined between both Grand Bahama and Abaco.