By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A major fisheries group yesterday threw its support behind the recently-tabled Fisheries Bill 2020, hailing it as “comprehensive” and for bringing a “fair and balanced approach” to the industry.
The National Fisheries Association (NFA), in a statement sent to Tribune Business, said it was “proud to endorse the Fisheries Bill 2020". It added: "We support the amendments to the Immigration Act and the Defence Act needed to bring the provisions of the Bill into full effect. We support minister Michael Pintard, and could not commend him more highly for his determination, honesty and tenacity in seeing this Bill to Parliament.
“We endorse this Bill because it represents the will of the majority of law-abiding Bahamian fishermen. It is comprehensive, well thought-out and was drafted in consultation with experienced commercial fishermen. Our members have been integral to the drafting of the legislation, and some of our senior members have dedicated themselves to extensive hours of meetings and drafting exercises.”
“The Bill represents a fair and balanced approach to fisheries," the Association added. "There is a high prioritisation of sustainability, accountability, data collection, scientific approaches to fisheries management and, most importantly, complete Bahamian ownership of the commercial fisheries sector.
"The advocacy we bring is about putting Bahamians first. This Bill puts Bahamians first, as the stewards and managers of the fisheries sector. This Bill protects vulnerable species from exploitation, and emphasises science in fisheries decisions and policies. This Bill enhances the rule of law in fisheries, and makes it clear that violations will not be tolerated.”
Describing the Bill as "30 years in the making", the Association added: “The NFA wants to thank every fisherman - active, retired and deceased - that set aside differences and came together at the table to advance the future of our country and our industry.
"To the fisheries advocates that fought tooth and nail for decades despite painful setbacks, devastating hurricanes and depleting fisheries resources, your sacrifices, your courage and your dedication will not be forgotten. It is with optimism that we will see the Bahamian fishermen thrive for generations to come.”