Department of Marine Resources pushes back against Forbes article

Department of Marine Resources pushes back against Forbes article
Gregory Bethel, acting director at the Department of Marine Resources (center).

An average of $56.7 million worth of spiny lobster landed between 2014-2018

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Spiny lobster landings have averaged some 5.1 million pounds between 2014 to 2018, with a corresponding average value of $56.7 million, according to statistics from the Department of Agriculture and Marine Resources.

Department officials held a press conference yesterday to refute the contents of a article which suggested that The Bahamas’ spiny lobster industry has been “set back years” as a result of Hurricane Dorian.

The article written by Daphne Ewing-Chow, an environmental writer with a focus on food and agriculture and was published on the site on October 31st, 2019.

Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard who did not attend yesterday’s press conference had already pushed back against the suggestions in an interview with Eyewitness News Online earlier this week, stating that the country is still able to satisfy the demand for spiny lobster.

Pintard revealed the government intends to donate small dinghies confiscated from Dominican poachers to impacted fishermen.

Gregory Bethel, acting director at the Department of Marine Resources said: “While the fisheries sectors in both Abaco and Grand Bahama have been adversely impacted, it has not been to the extent of the “huge loss to the spiny lobster fishery” as implied by the article.

“Please note the major islands of New Providence, Eleuthera inclusive of Spanish Wells, Long Island, Andros and the remaining southern islands where commercial fishing is prevalent, remains untouched. ”

He added: “In fact, the majority of fishing for spiny lobster takes place on the Great Bahama Bank, which is well out the impacted zone and remains fertile grounds for our fishers.

“Damage assessments of the Little Bahama Bank are continuing. While we suspect that the marine habitats may have been adversely impacted, damage assessments continue and therefore, the article’s conclusion that the long term sustainability of the sector are premature.”

According to the department, total fishery product landings for The Bahamas over the period 2014 – 2018 have averaged some 7.7 million pounds.

The average value of fishery product landings over said period was $66.4 million.

On average, over the past five years (2014 – 2018), Abaco has accounted for14.3 per cent of total weight and 14.3 per cent by value of all fishery products landed in The Bahamas.

Grand Bahama accounted for 14.3 per cent of total fishery product landings by weight and 13.0 per cent by value over the same period (2014 – 2018) for The Bahamas.

In 2018, Abaco accounted for 5.7 per cent by weight and 5.8 per cent of the value of all spiny lobster exports from The Bahamas.

During the same year, Grand Bahama accounted for 2.4 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively of spiny lobster exports.