Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner has condemned the Dominican poachers who continue to threaten the livelihood of many of her constituents.
Mrs Butler-Turner said the problem of illegal fishing continues in Bahamian waters despite “enthusiastic promises” by the government to address the matter 18 months ago.
“I speak on behalf of the fishermen of my constituency and for all Bahamian fishermen challenged by the illegal competition perpetrated against them and our country by fishing fleets from the Dominican Republic operating illegally within Bahamian territorial waters,” she said in a statement.
“I am told according to some reports, that the minister responsible for marine resources has presently as much as ‘thrown his hands in the air’, signalling the inability of his ministry and indeed of the government to provide adequate protection to Bahamian fishermen and their livelihood in the face of the incursion of the fishing fleets from the Dominican.
“As recently as today, Bahamian fishermen reported the presence of large ‘mother ships’ from the Dominican Republic accompanied by fleets of small fast vessels which poach Bahamian marine resources with impunity ignoring Bahamian law and disregarding Bahamian marine conservation initiatives.
“Our fishermen are able to see and locate the offending fishing fleet, but our Defence Force appears helpless to do the same. One is forced to inquire whether the Defence Force patrol fleet is operational,” she said.
Given that the minister in charge of the Defence Force said marines are being redeployed to assist police with New Providence’s crime problem, Mrs Butler-Turner said the public needs to know whether the country’s patrol vessels are adequately and properly staffed with experienced seamen capable of providing protection to Bahamian fisheries.
“Shortly after this government’s election some 18 months ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs led a delegation to the Dominican Republic to win the support of the government of the Dominican Republic for curtailing the illegal activity of that country’s fishermen,” she said. More....