Larry Smith, the Bahamas Pundit, wrote recently about problems of lobster poaching in the Bahamas. Here are some excerpts from that article:
A recent report by a leading University of Miami marine scientist has confirmed that poaching by commercial fishermen from the Dominican Republic is the greatest single threat to Bahamian seafood resources.
The report on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing was produced for the Bahamas Lobster Fisheries Improvement Project. This initiative is sponsored by local seafood processors in a bid to win endorsement for Bahamian crawfish exports under the European Union’s new Catch Certification programme.
Without this endorsement, which is aimed at reducing the over-exploitation of global fishery resources, Bahamian lobsters will be banned from the EU. And this lucrative market takes about 40 per cent of the 12.5 million lobsters we legally export every year (based on a four-year average), a catch valued at more than $87 million.
American statistics show that 89,000 pounds of lobster tails were legally imported from the Dominican Republic in the past year, but according to international conservation organizations, there are no commercially viable stocks of spiny lobsters in DR waters. In these circumstances, it is obvious where the lobsters for Dominican resorts and exporters are coming from.
From the DR’s northern coast, it takes less than three days to reach the Great Bahama Bank in a fishing vessel making 10-12 knots. These vessels are typically 65 feet long, and each is attended by a number of smaller skiffs. Fishermen operate from the skiffs using hookahs and spears, at depths well below 60 feet. And divers fish to depths of over 200 feet, reaching deep reef resources not legally fished by Bahamians, according to the IUU report.
“The potential for large illegal lobster landings in the Dominican Republic is huge. The implications in terms of lost jobs, lost revenue to the government, and lost fisheries resources is in the tens of millions of dollars,” the IUU report warned. “This is a serious threat to national security and economic growth.”
Click over to Larry’s blog to read the complete posting.
Previously on Green Antilles: Funding obtained for regional conservation of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster and Environmental certification coming for Bahamas lobster fishery.