By Natario McKenzie
The Bahamas must play a greater role in global fisheries management, the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance head said yesterday, warning that failure to combat illegal poaching issue could devastate this nation’s exports in a similar manner to Belize.
Adrian LaRoda said: “This nation should be the voice driving policies and sustainability standards.
“If we continue to sit in the back we will remain invisible. People won’t hear about the problems we have unless we make our presence felt and voice them in the global arena. We have the fisheries resources and more sea than all our Caribbean neighbours combined. We should be driving policies in global fisheries management and sustainability.”
Mr LaRoda warned that if the Government did not take illegal poaching seriously, this nation’s fisheries exports could suffer the same fate as Belize’s.
He was referencing the first major sanction by the European Commission on nations that allow illegal fishing operations to carry on under their countries’ flags. Fish imports from Belize, Guinea and Cambodia are to be banned from the European Union (EU) as a result. Three more countries have been warned their imports are in danger.
The three countries banned were warned last year that the EU Commission was preparing to end imports of their fish products, because of concerns they had failed to take action over piracy and illegal fishing.
“Due to the fact they didn’t put a handle on poaching, their lobster products have been banned from the EU. The country itself didn’t seem to want to take poaching seriously enough to ensure that their fisheries would remain sustainable. Such a move is devastating for the economy of Belize, and the same thing could happen here if we don’t take poaching seriously,” Mr LaRoda warned.
A ministerial team lead by national security minister Bernard Nottage, along with Minister of agriculture and marine resources, V Alfred Gray; minister of state for national security, Keith Bell; and financial services minister, Ryan Pinder, are scheduled to meet fishermen in Spanish Wells today.
Mr LaRoda expressed disappointment that the Alliance had not been formally notified. “This is the problem we face, operating by segregation,” he added.
“I don’t know why they did not advise the Alliance that they planned to have a meeting in a community as important as Spanish Wells. It would have been the proper thing to do, at least out of courtesy. We are representative of the fishermen in Spanish Wells and throughout the Bahamas.”