Bahamas: Pintard Promises Stiffer Penalties Against Poachers
MARINE Resources Minister Michael Pintard yesterday promised stiffer penalties for poachers caught in Bahamian waters as he described as “tragic” the quantity of undersized lobsters caught by the 124 Dominican poachers who were arrested over the weekend.
#Mr Pintard said Cabinet is set to review tougher amendments to the Fisheries Act, promising the government will continue to be aggressive against poachers.
#The poachers, who engaged in a shootout on Saturday with Royal Bahamas Defence Force on the high seas before they were arrested, were brought to the capital yesterday morning and remanded to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
#Mr Pintard could not confirm at the time whether the poachers will be charged with attempted murder, adding the investigation is continuing. However, he predicted the $3m fine levied against 46 Dominican poachers in August will “pale in comparison to what will come in the future, as well as the time spent incarcerated.”
#RBDF Commodore Tellis Bethel added that this was the largest arrest that has taken place in the last year. After the three steel-hulled Dominican vessels were docked at the RBDF Coral Harbour Base, Mr Pintard, law enforcement officers, and members of the press were allowed to tour the severely rusted boats and see the torrid living conditions on the vessels.
#Speaking to reporters on the docks, Mr Pintard expressed concern about the impact poaching has on the sustainability of the country’s marine life.
#“When you go on these vessels, you (can) clearly see that the poachers who are coming in our waters have no concern about future generations, whether they are Bahamians or others, who we feed by virtue of the fact that the Bahamas is a breeding ground for a number of marine species,” Mr Pintard said.
#“It is tragic when you go into the hold and you see the amount of catch, the fact that so many of the lobsters that have been caught and fished are undersized.”
#Mr Pintard added it is “too early to tell” the estimated dollar value of the haul, noting this will be reported after fisheries officers and the Ministry of Finance have done their inspections.