Bahamas National Trust condemns “abuse” of fisheries laws
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An American family visiting in The Bahamas received widespread criticism on social media after posting photos of them fishing bull sharks in Abaco to eat.
The Fisheries Resources and Conservation Act prohibits the possession, sale, fishing for or landing of sharks or shark parts in The Bahamas.
Kansas Pitts, whose Instagram handle is ‘pittspartyofsix’, recently posted several photos of the group holding up bull sharks on a boat and out of the water.
The sharks had reportedly been caught via hook and line.
The location tagged was Nunjack Cay located in Great Abaco, a protected cove known for its abundance of sharks, stingrays, turtles and other marine life.
The caption under the post heralded the catch and expedition.
The post, however, was later removed amid social medial backlash.
“This was my first bull shark catch and it was awesome,” read the post, which received at least 90 likes before it was removed.
“A few nights prior, I hooked up into an enormous one (Grey said about eight foot, but it’s up to 10 foot now) at our dock.
“I took the poll and ran down the dock with it [on] my shoulder to set the hook and fought him with the poll over Jons shoulder, unable to even get a turn in. He threw the hook; no idea how because it had to be set.
“So, I was so upset we didn’t get him to shore, so I could see him closer and not just from the dock. Fast-forward to yesterday and we went up to an estuary to find some mangroves that weren’t dead from the storm to look for lobster. They are in the mangroves like crazy in the [Cays]. No lobster, but tons of turtles, which was awesome.
“Then we decided to stop and fish. In come the bull sharks (yes the same basic spot that we were just in the [water] lobstering). Small ones and a few huge ones. This was the only one that we got in and she was all mine. So, for the first time last night, we ate shark and fried. It tasted kind of like chicken lol (laugh out loud). Greyson also caught a nurse shark that was released safely.”
Apparently unaware of the illegality of the catch, Pitt continued that she was worried about posting the catch because of how offended people can get, but said: “I am a firm believer if you consume what you catch and it’s not endangered and within the law, then it is completely what we were created to do; forage for food in some ways.
The post continued: “And honestly, as expensive as groceries are on the island with a family of six, we are trying to catch as much as we can to actually eat (lobster, fish and now…. Shark). Nurse and starfish were released properly.”
A flurry of posts condemned the catch and called on authorities to hold the family accountable for the apparent breach of the law.
In a subsequent post on Saturday, the family uploaded a photo of the Bahamas Fisheries (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Act, with an apology.
“Just FYI (for your information) for today, if you are visiting The Bahamas,” Pitts wrote.
“I have been educated thus I removed the post regarding the shark I caught while we were fishing. I apologize to all I offended and should have been more prudent in my research of the legalities of catching a shark in a country I am visiting.”
When contacted, Bahamas National Trust Executive Director Eric Carey condemned the “abuse” of the fisheries act and said his chief warden in Abaco has contacted police.
“They are abusing a Bahamas-protected area and secondly they are abusing the fisheries regulations, which protect sharks,” Carey told Eyewitness News.
“And while we understand that someone may not take the initiative to understand local regulations, the laws that are in place pertain.
“Ignorance doesn’t excuse the fact that the law is the law. I actually have my chief Abaco warden is speaking with the police. These people need to be investigated. We hold Bahamians fully responsible for Bahamian law. We also need to hold those who visit our country fully responsible for Bahamian law.”
He added: “I really find it reprehensible. Notwithstanding the fact that amid COVID, we are encouraging people to vacation in place, the same way you would not pick up and do something illegal like smoke weed or sniff cocaine, you also have to respect the environmental laws.”