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RBDF apprehends 96 suspected Dominican poachers

Almost 100 suspected Dominican poachers were picked up by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force(RBDF)along the Ragged Island Chain Saturday morning, According to an RBDF statement released yesterday.

The Defence Force statement revealed that officers intercepted two sixty-five foot vessels shortly after seven o’clock a.m. Saturday and apprehended 96 persons. When they boarded and searched the vessels they discovered a”large quantity”of shell fish and scaled fish, according to their report.

“The search led to the confiscation of a large quantity of shelled and scaled fish and the arrest of nearly one hundred persons(approximately 96)believed to be Dominican fishermen onboard,”the statement said.

“The apprehended craft are being escorted by Defence Force vessels to the capital, where the foreign fishermen will be turned over to the relevant authorities for further processing.”

Another poaching vessel apprehended recently by the U.S. Coast Guard was determined to have originated in the Dominican Republic.

According to Pinder, poachers remove close to one million pounds of spiny lobster from Bahamian waters every year and have been known to threaten local fishermen with semi-automatic weapons.

He contended that they gather such large hauls of marine life by bringing with them a large number of smaller boats that fish numerous areas and then bring the hauls back to larger mother ship.

“That’s why they are killing us,”he said.”They bring 20 to 30 speed boats.”

Meanwhile, Chief Counselor for Spanish Wells Abner Pinder revealed that there was a clash between Bahamian fishermen and poachers recently.

“There was some kind of minor fracas one week to ten days ago,”he said.”Nothing serious lately.”

Saturday’s apprehension was carried out by the RBDF Dauntless P-48, , according to the release. The vessel is one of the Defense Force’s smaller, faster vessels.

The RBDF said it will remain vigilant in the Ragged Island Chain, as numerous reports of poaching have sprung up recently.

“The Royal Bahamas Defence Force remains concerned about the volume of reports that they have been receiving concerning the increase of poachers in the Ragged Island chain, and maintains its commitment in actively investigating these reports, as evidenced by this latest arrest,”the statement said.

Pinder said since the end of September Bahamian fisherman have spotted a number of poachers in Bahamian waters.

According to him, the marine life taken from this latest apprehension may be sold by government and the money put into the treasury.

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