Crawfish season opens, some fishermen discouraged

Although the recently opened crawfish seasons is considered one of the most profitable times for local fishermen, one veteran revealed that selling crawfish is no longer profitiable for some.

In a telephone interview with Eyewitness News yesterday Mavros shared the fact that for him and many of his fishermen colleagues, crawfish season , which opened August 1,  is not as profitable as many might think.

“Crawfish season is usually kind of slow,” Mavros said.

“It’s so slow, we don’t really bother with it too much and I don’t get excited anymore about crawfish season,”

According to Mavros, the best time to fish for crawfish (during the season) is when the weather is inclement or when there is “rough weather” because the crawfish travels closer to the shore during that time, making it dangerous even for fishermen who may venture out in said conditions for the catch.

Mavros further highlighted that illegal foreign (and domestic) poachers have made it exceptionally challenging to make any real profits off Crawfish because he has to pay all necessary costs and fees in order for him to be a compliant fishermen but competing with non compliant fishermen.

“You have guys like me who have to pay for business licenses and permits to sell crawfish legally trying to compete with guys who advertise in different Facebook groups like ‘Things for Sale’, below Market price…they are pretty much just flipping their money. Whereas someone like me who have a license business, I have to pay top dollar and they all have to be legal size crawfish,” Mavros affirmed.

Despite Mavros’ claim about profitability, Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) President Adrian La-Roda told Eyewitness News, that crawfish, also known as spiny lobster, still generates more money for Bahamian Fishermen, although La-Roda shared similar sentiments about the poaching situation.

“There is no doubt that lobster is the main fisheries of The Bahamas,” La-Roda said.

“It generates the most revenue for fishermen and commercial fishermen look forward to this season because this is the time the generate the most money.”

La-Roda also emphasized the fact that Bahamian waters are always threatened by illegal poachers and unregulated fishermen.

“Our fisheries are impacted by Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Poaching by fishermen from other countries like the Dominican Republic and day fishing that comes out of the United States (U.S.), mainly South Florida,” La-Roda confirmed.

“The number of day fishing operators out of South Florida has increased so much now they do charters to The Bahamas and engage in illegal fishing, which cause the fisheries industry to lose up to $30 million a year.”

As it relates to poachers from Dominican Republic, according to La-Roda, the country loses up to $60 million a year.

Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert also stressed the importance of having a closed crawfish season and pushed for stiffer penalties for poachers to ensure the sustainability of the fishing industry and fish stock in Bahamian waters during the opened season.

“Scientists and people invloved in conservation and fishermen alike, all recognize the importance of closed seasons to ensure the sustainability of our fishing industry and fish stock,” McKinney-Lambert said.

“I can’t emphasize enough that it’s absolutely essential that we deal very firmly with poachers, foreign and local.”