Over the years there have been frequent reports in the local papers of poachers being caught in Bahamian waters by the RBDF. Just yesterday there was an article in the Tribune where 44 poachers were caught and prosecuted.
You might skim the headline “44 Dominican fishermen fined for poaching” and think, ‘good the system is working’. That is until you read the details and do some research like I did.
I was shocked and amazed at how the laws of this country are a joke that they allow the resources of this country to be plundered by foreigners. I am again left to wonder what our government officials are doing when a key industry and natural resource is allowed to be exploited like this.
The article listed the catch of two vessels as
- 642 lbs of assorted scale fish
- 740 lbs of Parrot fish
- 1034 lbs Crawfish tails
- 1336 lbs of whole Crawfish
The vessels were capable of carrying much much more fish than they were caught with (10,000 lbs per trip). The captains of each vessel were charged $50K and the crew $500 each.
I don’t know much about fishing but based on what fishermen here in the Bahamas make, I know that $5oo is a Joke and so is $50K for the captains. They could easily budget for these fines.
As a Dominican fisherman you know that if you fish in The Bahamas you only risk a $500 fine (if caught). On the other hand, you stand to make around US $10,000 per trip…. hmm, what whould you do?
Further research on the topic led me to even more shocking information. It’s just incredible what goes on in this country that ordinary Bahamians have absolutely no clue about.
These shocking facts will leave you incredulous
- The European Union require Bahamian sea food processors to be certified under the EU’s new catch certificate program which is aimed at reducing exploitation of global fisheries by ensuring that all crawfish are of legal size and condition
- The Bahamas seafood processors exports $87 million to Europe each year, which is 40% of the yearly seafood export.
- The Dominican Republic (DR) as a population of 9.6 million people and receives more than 4 million tourist annually (so they don’t need to export to Europe and thus are immune to pressure on exploiting their resources… which is why they have none.)
- Along the northern DR coast are three major ports and several huge resort centres, one of which – Punta Cana – has more hotel rooms than the entire Bahamas.
- Punta Cana hotels have lobster on the menu for US$16, about half the price of a typical lobster tail dinner in Nassau.
- American statistics show that 89,000 pounds of lobster tails were legally imported from the Dominican Republic in the past year
- According to international conservation organizations, there are no commercially viable stocks of spiny lobsters in DR waters.
There you have it… Are you as upset about this as I am?
Lets me go over that one more time
The Dominican Republic has NO Lobster in their waters, but are able to export 89,000 pounds per year AND serve Lobster dinners to 4 million visitors at only US $16 per plate.
The low price of lobster at the resorts (where prices are always higher) and the exports suggest that there is an abundance of Lobster in The Dominican Republic… but they don’t have none in their waters… wtf?
Where all this Lobster coming from?????
Why does it seem that whenever you look closely into anything in this country you find government slackness or out right corruption? I won’t claim corruption in this case but to allow this state of affairs to continue is unconscionable!
Here are some additional Mind Blowing information that exposes our government failure from a report produced by Dr Kathleen Sullivan Sealey, of the University of Miami’s highly respected Rosenstiel School of Marine Science.
- Sullivan Sealey estimated the number of lobsters taken out of Bahamian waters by poachers based on 30 vessels making six trips a year, with a catch of 10,000 pounds per trip; “This conservative estimate of illegal landings is a staggering 35 per cent (or 4.3 million) of the known export of 12.5 million lobsters from the Bahamas.”
- Based on interviews with Defence Force officers the report indicated that the interdiction of poachers is not a priority for the patrol vessels.
- “The RBDF is itself a significant fishing entity, with both shipboard and island-based personnel engaging in recreational fishing as a way to supplement incomes.” <— o_O
Bonus incredulous fact
- The Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance’s (BCFA) chief, Adrian La-Roda, told Tribune Business that when caught, poachers are not stripped of their cargo, but made to pay a $10,000 fine – 0.5 per cent of the total value of their catch.
What is the Solution?
The solution to this problem is not that difficult, our legislatures just need get off their fat asses and do their jobs.
- Ensure that poaching is a focus of the RBDF and they have adequate resources
- Increase fines for poaching crew by 2000% and fine Captains a percentage based on value of total capacity of ship
- Increase jail terms to 3 years for crew and 10 years of Captains
- Jail terms mandatory in addition to fines for second offence
- Seize catch, gear and vessels
These laws should greatly reduce poaching and the supply of Lobster in the Dominican Republic. Since they will still have 4 million visitors per year, this can be another export market for us and help build our fisheries industry at the same time.
What y’all think?