Categorized | National News

‘Keep PLP’s Plan to Protect Fishing Industry,’ Says Sweeting

Clay SweetingAs the official opening of the Bahamian Crawfish Season begins tomorrow, Progressive Liberal Party Senator Clay Sweeting strongly urged the government to follow up on measures put in place by the PLP to protect the longevity of the fishing industry in the country.

In a letter addressed to local fishermen yesterday, Mr. Sweeting highlighted measures put in place by the previous administration to try and sustain the vitality of this industry and the possible challenges that may arise.

“I along with the Bahamian people wish to emphatically remind Hubert Minnis and the FNM (Free National Movement) that the fisheries and the crawfish industry might be the most important industry to many in our Family Islands,” Mr. Sweeting said.

“In March 2014 the former PLP government took a major step in the right direction with the expansion of the RBDF’s patrol fleet and the government at the time was prepared to spend $232 million on this initiative which will not only strengthen the patrol capabilities of the RBDF (Royal Bahamas Defence Force), but also play a major role in the protection of Bahamian waters and fisherman from illegal poachers.

“Prior to that there was an explosion in illegal poaching during the off season by foreign vessels, most noticeably from the Dominican Republic.”

The Sandy Bottom Project is a $232 million investment initiated by the PLP government to upgrade the Defence Force’s fleet and operations that will ultimately lead to the decentralization of base operations to ensure faster response times.

Last year, Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) vice-president Keith Carroll said the crawfish season was promising and credited this to Defence Force patrols during the offseason.

The BCFA has long voiced concerns over poaching by foreign fishermen, primarily Dominicans, particularly during the closed period.

However, Mr. Caroll said he believes that the addition of new vessels to the Defence Force’s fleet has helped to put a dent in the poaching practice.

Last Year, RBDF marines were involved in a shootout and subsequent high-speed chase with suspected Dominican poachers in the Cay Lobos area.

Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship (HMBS) Cascarilla, while on patrol in the Cay Lobos area in the southern Bahamas, was “fired upon” by the crew of a vessel registered in the Dominican Republic after marines launched a sea boat in an attempt to board the vessel.

The crew of the vessel was engaged in illegal fishing at the time of the incident.

No marines were hurt, nor were any of the vessels damaged during the testy encounter.

The crawfish season opens tomorrow and runs to March 31, 2018.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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