By Khrisna Virgil
Nearly $100,000 in fines were collected from the captain and crew of a Dominican vessel which was arrested for illegally fishing in Bahamian waters.
In December, 17 Dominicans were caught but 33 others evaded capture after the group of 50 were spotted poaching near Cay Lobos just off the Great Bahama Bank.
But according to Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) officials in a press statement yesterday, six charges were brought against the captain and crew of the Dominican fishing vessel for poaching 10,750 lbs of seafood. The captain was fined $50,000 and each crew member $1,000.
Two crew members, found to be repeat offenders, were fined an additional $5,000. Altogether, the courts collected from the group a total of $96,000.
Among the goods confiscated from the group’s 70ft boat called the “Rubi 1” were 4,374 lbs of legal sized whole crawfish and 1,337 lbs of under-sized crawfish.
Two pounds of egg bearing crawfish were confiscated. RBDF officers also found 687 lbs of legal sized Nassau Grouper and 233 lbs of the under sized fish. Mixed fish weighed 4,125 lbs.
The statement said: “Late in December of last year the Defence Force successfully apprehended a 70ft Dominican fishing vessel in the area of Diamond Point 19.1 nautical miles south east of Cay Lobos just off the Great Bahama Bank.
“‘RUBI 1’ and her cargo was detained and escorted into Coral Harbour Base and turned over to officers from the Fisheries Department and the Ministry of Finance for further processing. Subsequently, a large quantity of fisheries products were removed and transported to Geneva Brass Seafood, for weighing and storage.”
The Ministry of Finance has yet to make public the market value of the confiscated seafood.
Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Eric Carey said the fines are proof that the government is serious about protecting the resources of the Bahamas.
“$100,000 is not an insignificant fine,” Mr Carey said, “it sends a very clear message and ensured that their trip was not a very profitable one. I believe the fines levied against the group of Dominicans is sufficient deterrent.”
Mr Carey urged Bahamians and foreigners alike to heed fishing laws as unregulated fishing is extremely detrimental to various species in the ocean.