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Dive program taking shape

Before the end of the year, the government will be offering a training program for Bahamians interested in the lucrative field of dive fishing. FILE

Before the end of the year, the government will be offering a training program for Bahamians interested in the lucrative field of dive fishing.

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said more Bahamians can benefit from the multimillion-dollar dive fishing industry that is currently saturated by foreigners.

The program that is being rolled out is a collaborative effort between the ministry, the National Training Agency, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, Pintard said.

“We have completed, by and large, the design of the dive program. As I’ve mentioned earlier, we are pivoting in terms of reducing this demand that presently exists for foreign labor in the dive industry,” the minister said.

“We believe that given the amount of Bahamians who are unemployed or are not on other vessels – because there are quite a few Bahamians who are on vessels – we believe there needs to be an opportunity created for those who don’t have certification to obtain it so that they are in a position to take advantage of what is a very lucrative industry. That program, we are hoping to roll out by the end of the year.”

Last year, the overall catch of fisheries products was somewhere around $71 million, with the lobster component of it making up the vast majority, Pintard said.

“A part of why persons absolutely love it is that boats often operate under the promise of providing shares,” he said.

“And again, as we visit fishing communities, persons who have operated in that capacity have their own homes, have spin-off businesses as a result of the revenue they’ve generated, and a number of them have purchased their own vessels but still choose to work in a share system on another particular boat. So, it’s a very lucrative business.”

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