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Foreign divers sue government over permit denial

Twenty foreign divers shut out of the crawfish season are taking the government to court over its decision to deny them special compressor permits.

The Dominican and Honduran applicants, who either hold permanent residency or resident spousal permits with the right to work without restrictions, are employed as divers on Bahamian-owned fishing vessels.

However, their lawyer Dion Smith said they have been unable to work because of the minister’s decision, which he said was made without regard to the provisions of the Immigration Act.

Smith said the men risk losing their jobs if the refusal remains in effect before the court rules since the crawfish season ends in March 2020.

The minister of agriculture and marine resources and the attorney general are named as respondents in the application for leave to apply for judicial review.

The applicants were arbitrarily refused compressor permits for the 2019/2020 crawfish season, which runs from August 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020, although they received permits for the past season, the complaint alleges.

They applied for renewals for the current season; however, on August 1, the minister announced no one on a work permit, resident spouse permit, or permanent resident permit would be allowed to participate in the season.

Smith has asked a court to allow the applicants to fish on the vessel pending a decision of whether the denial was lawful.

He has also asked the court to compel the minister to issue the compressor permits to the applicants; declare that the minister’s decision went against the provisions of the Immigration Act; and declare that the decision to deny the permits, without notice, violated the principles of natural justice.

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