Categorized | National News

Inroads To Alleviate Dominican Poaching

Foreign Affairs Minister, Darren Henfield  says  talks between the Dominican government and The Bahamas government  are  going extremely well despite fourteen Dominican poachers being apprehended within the past seven days. 

Speaking with reporters before the weekly Cabinet meeting, Mr. Henfield said the next step between the two governments is to sign a memorandum of understanding.  

“Discussions with the Dominican government have been going tremendously well.

“About two or three weeks ago a team from the Dominican Republic came (here)  led by  Minister Espinoza, who is responsible for External Relations, to a certain extent, and she brought with her members from the Fisheries Association from the Dominican Republic and made some commitments that the Dominican government would do more to help the alleviate this problem of incursions into our waters to fish illegally,” Mr. Henfield said. 

 During the meeting which occurred in November, both governments agreed that any incident of illegal fishing is a serious matter, which must be addressed comprehensively and expeditiously to prevent further occurrences. 

Mr. Henfield revealed that there were some indications that suggested that the Dominican government would help to prevent its fisherman from entering Bahamian waters illegally. 

“Some of these indications seem to suggest that they will put indicators on Dominican  fishing vessels that leave, that these vessels would have to report to the Dominican government before they leave and that they would continue to communicate to their people that fishing in the Bahamas is illegal and you could end up in prison for a very long time. 

“The next step for us now is to have our technical people sit in a room and hammer out memoranda  of understanding as to how we will proceed when we address this issue. 

“For them it is a concern that their fishermen are in prison at Fox Hill for such an extended period of time,” Mr. Henfield said.  

Also present at that meeting, according to Mr. Henfield were “members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Commander of the Defence Force Tellis Bethel, and several of his senior officers, as well as people from Agriculture and Fisheries and other government agencies concerned with this matter”.

During the Christie administration, the two governments sat in talks on the same issues.  However Mr. Henfield said the agreement was “hammered out” but not finalized.  

However, he added that he is “confident that they [Dominican government] are willing now to work and cooperate with the Bahamian government as we move forward”. 

“We indicated to them that Dominican fishermen are becoming more and more aggressive toward Bahamian law enforcement and even Bahamian fishermen in the past.

“We also commended our Royal Bahamas Defence Force for their level of discretion that they use in not using far more superior fire power to open up on a Dominican fishing vessel fleeing into Cuban territory.

“I  am confident with our Defence Force working with Dominican law enforcement, and  the Fisheries Association of  the Dominican Republic, doing what they promised to do; with us working with their government,  as well as the Cuban government, we are going to make real inroads into this matter of illegal poaching in Bahamian waters,” Mr. Henfield said. 

Last Friday seven Dominicans were charged in magistrates court for illegal fishing, which resulted in a $413,000 fine on each person or jail time. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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