No Bahamian interest in commercial ‘specialty’ fishing
Fisheries Minister V. Alfred Gray said that, over almost a decade, he hasn’t seen any local attempt to develop what he considers an untapped market for speciality fish farming operations on a large scale level in The Bahamas that could lead to a boost in economic growth.
“I have been minister for almost 10 years, and I don’t remember any applications being sent to my ministry for those expensive kind of fisheries. There are dozens of commercial fishing operations but they normally go for the grouper, lobster and the conch.
“But, nothing to do with those kinds of fish that would bring millions of dollars, if you can catch them. The untapped market for speciality fish can boost economic growth. We would support them to the extent that we are able,” he said.
Gray told Guardian Business yesterday that the government welcomes Bahamians who are interested in going into commercial fishing of that kind.
He explained that funding through the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) for that particular venture is available for Bahamians.
“But, very few Bahamians seem to want to do anything,” he said.
Government policy presently reserves the commercial fishing industry for exploitation by Bahamian nationals.
Only commercial fishing vessels that are 100 percent Bahamian owned are considered Bahamian and therefore allowed to fish within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
All investment projects with non-Bahamian interests must have the approval of the government’s National Economic Council (NEC).
Gray said, “The government is open to foreign investments in fish farming for speciality fish, even though they cannot fish outside the sports fishing industry. But if there is an industry for fish farming that is to be created, local or foreign investors are encouraged in that regard.
“We welcome anyone who would want to set up a fish farm. There is absolutely no room for foreign fishermen but if they want to set up a fish farm, that would be synonymous with a land based operation because it’s enclosed.”