Pintard: Govt considering pelagic fishing
Despite the cries of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and conservationists, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said government is seriously considering whether it will allow pelagic fishing in The Bahamas.
Pintard said The Bahamas hasn’t done enough research into other marine species that hold economic potential for local entrepreneurs, which include pelagic fish, that require fishermen to go out further and into deeper water to access them.
“There are other species that are going underutilized, we know the traditional ones, we are seeking to protect them given the challenges that they face, so we’ve applied seasons, we’ve determined sizes and a wide range of measures to protect them,” he said.
“But it also includes looking at some species that have been treated as sacred cows. So for example, the tuna, which is recommended to be protected by some NGOs; we have to make a determination based on the stock in Bahamian waters, their pattern of development and migration, whether it is in our national interest to observe certain protocols that others are suggesting that we do.”
Renward Wells, the previous minister of agriculture and marine resources, was criticized by conservation group Save the Bays (STB) in April after he spoke of the need to expand the fisheries sector to include pelagic fishing.
STB Chairman Joseph Darville called the prospect terrifying.
As for increasing fisheries exports, Pintard said the ministry is seeking to capitalize more from crawfish, which is the most exported fishery resource in The Bahamas.
“In terms of export numbers, we have just, as you may be aware, gotten the designation that we have a safe resource in spiny lobster. So, by getting the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) designation, we are now in a position to better market that particular product, because internationally persons and corporations are not prepared to import any marine species that may not be safely harvested,” he said.
“So, we believe that that designation is to the marine resources as the organic designation is to farming, and so that is going to go a long way.”