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Bahamas: Shootout At Sea: Dominican ‘Poachers’ Held After Exchanging Fire With Rbdf Vessel

DOMINICAN poachers engaged the Royal Bahamas Defence Force in a shoot-out on the high seas before more than 100 of them were arrested after escaping into Cuban waters.

According to a press release from the RBDF, no Bahamians were hurt during the shoot-out, however 124 Dominican crew members are in custody and three “motherships” have been seized.

The arrests capped off a dramatic three-day joint operation between the RBDF, the United States’ Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Patrol.

On Wednesday, a US Coast Guard cutter, with a RBDF ship-rider on board, reported sighting a fishing vessel from the Dominican Republic north of Haiti.

The Dominicans aboard the vessel indicated that they were heading to The Bahamas, the RBDF said.

After being notified, the RBDF was directed to intercept the Dominican vessel in the event it entered Bahamian waters. HMBS Madeira later spotted the three vessels at daybreak on Saturday with skiffs in the water near Cay Lobos – a small cay on the southern edge of the Great Bahama Bank, 12 nautical miles north of central Cuba.

“Madeira deployed its sea boat with a boarding team to apprehend the motherships before they entered Cuban waters,” the RBDF said. “The Dominican vessels opened fire on the approaching boarding team while fleeing into Cuban waters. Madeira’s boarding party returned fire in self-defence.

“One of the three steel-hulled vessels ran aground in Cuban waters while trying to escape. None of the defence force boarding team members was injured during the incident. The defence force immediately alerted the Cuban Border Patrol of the incident and informed the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which sought the assistance of the Cuban government in apprehending the vessels.”

Cuba’s Border Patrol apprehended the three vessels with 124 crew members on Saturday and turned them over to HMBS Durward Knowles, which was on patrol in the southeastern Bahamas investigating a separate report of a suspicious vessel in the area.

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