Categorized | National News

Dominicans Paying “Lip Service” on Poaching Issue

With the crawfish season now closed, making it illegal for fishermen to go in search of this catch, local fishermen have expressed concern that this off period could become peak season for foreign poachers to rape Bahamian waters.

Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister V. Alfred Gray acknowledged this concern Tuesday and noted that while poaching continues to be a problem for The Bahamas, the government is doing all it can to address this activity.

Most recently, the minister said Parliament approved the government’s resolution to borrow more than $200 million for the purchase of nine Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) vessels.

The first of these vessels is expected to arrive in June.

But Mr. Gray admitted that the government is growing frustrated with the Dominican Republic’s government, who he said continues dragging its feet with cracking down on its fishermen.

“Once these boats are in place, I have a strong feeling, with or without the support of the Dominican government; the Government of The Bahamas will be in a magnificent position to police our borders and prevent poaching in any material way…only time will tell and we are waiting for those boats to come to assist the process of guarding our borders,” the minister said.

The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic have been in talks over the issue of poaching for several months.

Mr. Gray said the government received a commitment from the Dominican Republic to outfit some of its vessels with GPS systems making it easier to track the movement of those vessels leaving that country, but to date he adds, nothing has happened.

“We spoke to no less a person than the president of the Dominican Republic and we left the Dominican Republic believing that we had a deal and obviously the deal has not yet materialised, we still hope that it will,” he said.
The minister said even while it appears the Dominican Republic is merely paying lip service to the concerns of The Bahamas, this country’s government is resolute in addressing poaching which robs The Bahamas of millions of dollars and puts fishermen and RBDF officers in tremendous danger.

“All the talks are over,” he added. “It’s just a matter of signing the Memorandum of Understanding and implementing what we had agreed and so we’re still hopeful. With their [the Dominican Republic’s] assistance or without their assistance, we have an obligation to police the Bahamian waters and when these boats arrive in time we will do so. I just ask patience on behalf of our fishermen because we are doing our best.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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