Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Bahamian fisheries generated a 19 percent increase in the value of its export earnings in 2020 despite a reduction in the volume of domestic landings, a Cabinet minister disclosed yesterday.
Michael Pintard, minister of agriculture and marine resources, in his contribution to the 2021-2022 budget debate said that the value of domestic fisheries landings had largely held despite the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Giving an update on the sector’s health, the minister indicated that it remained an invaluable source of scarce foreign currency earnings at a time when the major source, tourism, was still recovering from the pandemic’s devastating impact.
“During calendar year 2020, the commercial fishing sector saw an overall 18.8 percent decrease in total landings and a one percent decrease in the value of those products landed,” Mr Pintard said.”Total fishery product landings in calendar year 2020 were 5.2m pounds with a total value of some $62.1m. Crawfish landings accounted for 84.8 percent of the total landings, and 93 percent of the total value of the landings.
“Additionally, $76.8m of foreign exchange resulted from the export of frozen crawfish tails, conch meat, stone crab claws, scalefish and inedible marine resources during calendar year 2020. The figure represents an 18.9 percent increase in the value of fishery products and resource exports over calendar year 2019.
“Accordingly, the export of frozen crawfish tails represented some 93.5 percent of the value of the exports, as well as a 19.7 percent increase in frozen crawfish tails exports over calendar year 2019.”
Turning to Hurricane Dorian’s impact on the fisheries industries in Grand Bahama and Abaco, Mr Pintard added: “In September 2109, Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama and destroyed or significantly damaged nearly 80 percent of the fisheries sector to the tune of an estimated $21.7m.
“Abaco and Grand Bahama were the second and fourth largest producers of fishery products in The Bahamas, and the adverse impact of the hurricane on these islands has had a negative impact on the overall decrease in total fishery product lands for The Bahamas over the last few years.
“Both islands have been on the road to recovery,” Mr Pintard added. “In the case of Abaco, there was a displacement of many of the fishers, which lent to the decrease in total fishery product landings for the island in 2019 to the tune of some 36.6 percent in comparison to 2018. In 2020 there was a further 16.8 percent decrease in total fishery products landings in comparison to 2019.
“I am happy to report in the case of Grand Bahama, where there was an initial decrease in total fishery product landings of some 59 percent in calendar year 2019 in comparison to calendar year 2018, the Grand Bahama fishing sector has shown signs of a major rebound, where in calendar year 2020 there was an increase of some 79.8 percent in total fishery product landings in comparison to 2019.”