By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
BAHAMIAN fishermen are reaping "the highest price ever" for crawfish at the outset of the 2019/2020 season, with Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) vice-president Keith Carroll telling Tribune Business that increased access to foreign markets has created more demand.
"I've been fishing for 35 years and this is the highest price ever the crawfish season has opened with. Price is ranging from $14-$15.50 per pound," said Mr Carroll.
"For years we have been trying to get into the Chinese market. We are allowed to ship seafood from here to China. It's a bigger market for The Bahamas. We are now MSC certified and we can ship our lobsters all over the world and they would be accepted. We have more markets. We don't just have to depend on Europe and America. Our lobster is number one in the world. It's all about supply and demand."
Last August it was announced that following a 19-month assessment period The Bahamas spiny lobster fishery had been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and is the world's first Caribbean fishery to be entered into the program. The award means The Bahamas spiny lobster fishery meets the MSC sustainability standard.
"With the certification, the lobster tails are now eligible to carry the internationally recognized MSC blue fish label, which makes it easy for consumers to know that they're choosing seafood that is as good for the ocean as it is for them."
The crawfish or spiny lobster is a $90 million industry in The Bahamas which employs about 9,000 fishermen who cover 45,000 square miles of ocean. The release states more than six million pounds of spiny lobster tails are exported primarily to the US and Europe - exports are capped at five million pounds.
Mr Carroll told Tribune Business that the season thus far has been a mixed bag with some fishermen reporting greater crawfish yield than last year and other reporting less. Mr Carroll expressed concern for fishermen in the northern Bahamas with the passage of Hurricane Dorian. "You're talking about Abaco, Moore's Island, Sweeting's Cay and guys from West End. That's about 25 percent of fishermen. All of the boats are secure but a lot of the crawfish traps or condos are going to be lost and that's a setback."