NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With Europe, the country’s major export market for lobster also severely impacted by COVID-19, there is growing concern over the how the upcoming season could be impacted.
Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA) president Adrian LaRoda told Eyewitness News that fishers did not want to be faced with a situation of having no market to absorb the yield from the upcoming season.
The crawfish/spiny lobster season runs from August 1 to March 31.
“Europe is a major market for our spiny lobster exports,” said LaRoda.
“With COVID-19 and government imposed restrictions forcing restaurants to close and many people likely less inclined to dine out, there is likely to be an impact. We will have access but the appetite isn’t there, not because they don’t want to but they are prohibited from enjoying that lifestyle, dining out etc.
“Our domestic market can’t absorb all of the product we harvest, especially when the hotels aren’t open. We don’t want to end up with product that we cannot sell,” he said.
The government has announced in the 2020/20201 budget that for the agriculture and fisheries industry, it will reduce the duty on fishing materials from 45 percent to 20 percent, effective July 1, 2020.
Some of these items include: Fishing rods, reels, lines, tackles and other materials.
LaRoda said: “In the long term they will benefit the industry. In the short term not so much and the reason I say that is because it will take persons some time to get out of the stagnation of this lock down. If the lockdown continues for another month that will put commercial fishermen on the threshold of preparing for the lobster season.”
He continued: “Fishermen may not have sufficient time to adequately prepare for the August 1 start. In the long term any tax break is good. Fishermen who have always enjoyed tax breaks it seems will continue to do so. I don’t see anything in the budget saying otherwise however for those who may want to now do so in time for the 2020/2021 lobster season they may not see an immediate benefit.
“Over the long term however, it could make a marked difference to the revenue of fishermen barring any event that puts a stop to commercial activity,” he said.