Categorized | Featured, National News

Gov’t “Optimistic” Over DR’s Poaching Promises


Government officials said they are “cautiously optimistic” following high level bilateral talks with Dominican Republic officials concerning the years long problem of Dominican poachers in Bahamian waters.

The meeting was held in that country from October 30 to 31 and it was the first meeting of that kind to ever take place.

And according to Agriculture and Fisheries Minister V. Alfred Gray, that country had no clue that their nationals were posing such a major problem to The Bahamas.

“The government of the Dominican Republic did not really know of that poaching by their nationals,” Mr. Gray said.

“I was so happy that they entertained and were just as enthusiastic about stopping it as we were and having never had a formal position put to them prior to us, was very surprising.”

But now that they know Minister Gray says they are committed to doing their part to reduce poaching.

For years the poaching of Bahamian waters has posed a longstanding and vexing issue that has crippled many Bahamian businesses, put fishermen’s lives at risk and depleted the country’s resources.

But, based on what has been promised Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said if the Dominican Republic sticks to what was proposed, this new partnership could be the beginning of the end as it regards Dominican poaching as well as possibly opening the door for massive trade opportunities.

“The visit can be described as generally successful,” Minister Mitchell said. “The purpose of the mission was to convey to the Dominican authorities the seriousness of the fishing issue to The Bahamas and to advise the authorities there that The Bahamas would be taking stronger steps to stop poaching in our waters.

“These steps include but are not limited to a $200 million investment in equipment for the Royal Bahamas Defense Force and stronger laws to punish poachers. The government of The Bahamas believed that we had an obligation to ensure that we used diplomacy as the first line of defence.”

Minister Mitchell said the Dominican government pledged that the problem would be addressed from their end beginning with specifically instructing the Naval forces in that country to begin a series of measures to drastically reduce poaching in Bahamian waters.
From this end though Minister Gray said he is working on increasing those penalties that he is hoping would act as a deterrent.

“I can tell you I am foreshadowing that the penalties will be up to 25 years (in jail) if I can get the Cabinet’s approval for those convicted of poaching in The Bahamas,” he said. “And the fines would start at $250,000 rather than the minimal penalty which presently exist.”

As it stands now the fines for poaching in Bahamian waters are pegged at a maximum of $5,000 with the confiscation of the vessel, equipment and fish.

Minister Gray added that the two countries also proposed that convicted poachers be punished here in The Bahamas as well in their homeland for raiding Bahamian waters.

The ministers said two follow up meetings, to the Dominican Republic are proposed to sign off on these agreements as well as a technical meeting with the defence forces of both countries to be held in Nassau in two weeks.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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