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Fishing Executive Hits Out At Compressor Ban

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

A commercial fishing executive yesterday said the compressor ban is undermining the sector just when The Bahamas needs its ability to earn foreign exchange the most.

Errol Davis, of Fish Farmers, and a Coalition For Responsible Fishing (CFRF) member, told Tribune Business that the ban during the lobster off-season was not necessary as most fishermen respect the law and regulations when it comes to crawfish.

Arguing that it was impacting other fishing activities,” Mr Davis said: “Things are very difficult now. It’s four months where we have to basically sit down because, while technically we can fish, we cannot use the compressors for the next four months.

“We are trying to get the minister (Michael Pintard) to make an exception for the use of compressors because a lot of the fishermen have to set their condos in the summer months and in the offseason. They find it very difficult to do so if they don’t have the permission to use the compressors.

“Compressors allow you to be able to breathe underwater. Some people use them to help haul fish in the fishnet, or to harvest conch. The compressors are supposed to be no less than 30 feet. It just allows you to be able to breathe, otherwise you really can’t fish on a commercial level and you can’t produce anything without it.

“I don’t see why it’s a real issue on the prohibition of compressors because the lobster is seasonal anyway. If we go and we fish, we know we cannot get lobsters because it is seasonal.”

The compressor ban coincides with the off-season for lobster fishing between April to July each year. It is ilegal to use any type of underwater air supply for spear fishing or collecting marine life. This includes scuba gear as well as air compressors, unless there is a permit to do so from the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources.

Mr Davis added: “If lobsters are out of season, they are out of season. Even if someone uses a compressor they know they should not touch the lobster out of season. Similarly with grouper. Grouper has a season and, during the lobster season when we are allowed to use the compressors, the grouper season overlaps with the lobster season.

“So there are times when the grouper season is running and you have permission to use the compressor, but we can’t get groupers so fishermen don’t get groupers. If anyone is found with groupers out-of-season they should get prosecuted, but most of the fishermen generally respect the law.”

Turning to the Coalition For Responsible Fishing’s legal challenge to the Fisheries Act 2020, where it is arguing that the bar on foreign fishermen is unconstitutional, Mr Davis said: “We go back to court on June 22 to find out if we will get a ruling on our injunction, but right now it is all up in the air as to what happens.

He added that this matter, together with the restrictions on compressors, has put a damper on an industry that has the potential to bring in much-needed foreign exchange earnings to replace some of what has been lost with tourism’s slow recovery.

Mr Davis said: “It’s rough right now without the workers in place. We just have to see with respect to the workers what will happen. There is already an injustice as we see it, which is unfair, but it’s something you can’t correct overnight.

“A professional fisherman is developed over a number of years, and then not only do you have to have the skill, you also have to have the drive and the stickability and the work ethic. All of these things are necessary because, with the typical large commercial fishing vessel, to even fuel up to get ready to go it can take you up to $60,000 on top of groceries and everything else.

“So you can’t just put anybody on a boat saying that you are going to fish. You may as well park your boat if you don’t have a crew that is able to produce and help you to at least break even.”

Comments

themessenger 7 months, 1 week ago

Mr Davis, we didn’t all just walk out of the bush or fall overboard this morning. You need to stop and smell the stuff you shoveling. Three of the things that are most destructive to the fishing industry are long lines, gill nets and air compressors. You call yourself a diver but can’t free dive to thirty feet, you must do all your spearing in the bathtub. I have personally made and set many condos and have never once needed a hookah to do it. The problem I’ve always had with my condos is other lazy, tiefing, hookah using Bahamians robbing them and leaving them upside down if not carrying them. One of the dumbest things Hubert Ingraham ever did was to legalize air compressors for harvesting crawfish as freely admitted by yourself, Bahamians have never respected the 30-60 feet lobsters only rule. If one was to listen to you, no one ever dove a conch or speared a grouper or crawfish before the advent of hookahs. Our conch populations are in serious trouble, all recent and not so recent scientific surveys showing population densities per seabed hectare below what is necessary for the species survival. Our grouper are only just now recovering, and only because of the yearly ban, the Bahamas has the sole remaining grouper fishery remaining in the entire Caribbean region. The only thing that motivates you and your associates is greed.As a fisherman and diver I have personally witnessed the decline, nay, demise of our reefs, conch beds and fisheries over the last thirty odd years due in no large part to the all fa me mindset of my fellow Bahamians. We have met the enemy and they are us, let us continue to hasten towards the great empty!

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bahamianjustice 7 months, 1 week ago

It is astounding how idiotic and ignorant you sound. Fishing is the largest industry in our country. The air compressors simply allow fisherman to breath, nothing destructive about it. Bahamians have the right to create business from fishing which is a natural resource in the Bahamas. Just because some people affected your condos, does not mean everyone does. Mr. Davis' company is a highly respected business that ensures it properly follows the law of the country, respects the marine life of the Bahamas, employs Bahamians workers and contributes to the economy of our land. Minister Pintard has put forth a discriminatory and frankly illegal bill against foreign fisherman whom are also employed and have the right to work in the Bahamas that ironically was granted by the government themselves. This has nothing to do with greed, this is standing up for your rights as a Bahamian merchant and those drastically affected by these new rules and bill. It is more than a business, it contributes to the economy that is severely going downhill at the moment and employs Bahamian workers whom heavily rely on the operations of the business to survive, so save that crap for someone who will believe it. Mr Davis and his company have always respected the laws of the sea and in fact have ensured others follow the rules of off season and protecting the growth of species. You need to understand that this bill bars Bahamians businesses requiring compressors and whom happen to have non-bahamian workers from operating which affects Bahamian merchants and workers, the economy and peoples LIVES! This is not a time to play with peoples livelihood. People are suffering in our country, now you want to negatively affect one of the largest industries in our country. This is not just Mr. Davis' business, these are multiple BAHAMIAN owned business suffering in this industry because of these new rules. Please stop wanting failure for your fellow Bahamians, uplift one another. Your ignorance truly needs fixing!

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WETHEPEOPLE 7 months, 1 week ago

I agree, compressors should be ban. You sound like you just want to rape the waters for your financial benefit. I am sorry the water dont just belong to fishermen, but all Bahamains, and i am sure they dont want raping the waters.

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bahamianjustice 7 months, 1 week ago

You seemed to be confused, the fisherman ARE Bahamians! It seems you just want to see Bahamians businesses fail. This has nothing to do with raping the waters, the water and fish are a natural resource entitled to everyone, and any Bahamian who will claim it. Mr. Davis truly is a professional whom respects the laws of the marine land and ensures his company respects off season. This is not just one business, this is multiple whom are suffering because of these unconstitutional and unfair rules put in place. Please save that sob story for someone else!

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Bahamianbychoice 7 months, 1 week ago

It is amazing and never ceases to surprise me is how Bahamians pull down other Bahamians. This country has become a failed state and instead of empowering fishermen the Government has successfully undermined this industry as well. Split the industry (no doubt for kickbacks as per usual) by pitting those in this sector against each other. Not recognizing the overall growth potential for employment, foreign currency and increasing the ability to independently feed ourselves. Instead comments are based on conjecture and flawed reports. ...but this is just how the Government would like Bahamians to remain...suppressed and buying into propaganda. It seems only when you loose control of this sector to those with much more sophisticated fishing techniques ( foreign owned ) will you get it cause ya will feel it. It then will be too late..smt!

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bahamianjustice 7 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Davis I 100% agree with you! The air compressors in no way should be banned and the actions and bills enacted by the Minister are unconstitutional, discriminatory and frankly illegal. Something tells me he has special interest behind him out of a certain Island called Spanish Wells. As a Bahamian, I want to see my people thrive and their businesses succeed, this has drastically effected so many peoples lives in a time so economically disastrous. People are suffering and hurting businesses is NOT the answer! I stand with you Mr. Davis and all the other fisherman whom are being mistreated by these new rules! Justice for ALL Bahamians!!

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