Four suspected Dominican poachers caught near Inagua

Four suspected Dominican poachers were caught in Bahamian waters on Saturday, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) said yesterday.

The RBDF said the U.S. Coast Guard spotted a 20-foot go-fast boat southeast of Great Inagua. The coast guard reported the sighting to the RBDF, which dispatched a boat to investigate.

“The vessel was subsequently apprehended and taken to Inagua,” the RBDF said in a statement.

“On-board the vessel were four Dominican fishermen along with fishing apparatus and a grouper.

“The men, along with the boat and fishing apparatus, were taken into custody and handed over to police and immigration officials at Great Inagua.”

The defense force said this was the third group of foreign fishermen caught in Bahamian waters in the last two weeks.

Just last week, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield said he is confident that talks with the Dominican government will result in the implementation of new measures to address the longstanding issue.

“I think discussions with the Dominican government have been going tremendously well,” said Henfield when asked about the matter outside Cabinet.

“A team from the Dominican Republic came, led by a minister, Minister Majorie Espinoza, who is responsible for external relations to a certain extent, and she brought with her members from the fisheries association in the Dominican Republic and made some commitments that the Dominican government would do more to help alleviate this problem of incursions into our waters to fish illegally.

“Some of these indications seem to suggest that they will put indicators on Dominican vessels, fishing vessels that leave; that these vessels will have to report to the Dominican Republic’s government before they leave and that they will continue to communicate to their people that fishing in The Bahamas is illegal and you could end up in prison for a very long time.

“In that meeting, also present [were] members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the commodore of the defense force Tellis Bethel, and several of his senior officers, as well as people from agriculture and fisheries and other government agencies concerned with this matter.

“The next step for us now is to have our technical people sit in a room and hammer out memorandums of understanding as to how we will proceed forward, when we address this issue.

“For them, it is a concern that their fishermen are in prison in Fox Hill for such an extended period of time.”

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