Massive seafood exports cause for concerns, says conservationist

Joe Darville.

Save the Bays (STB) Chairman Joseph Darville berated Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Renward Wells for the increase in seafood exports from $100 million to $200 million annually, stating that the increase will completely wipe out some of the best-tasting fish in The Bahamas.

In an interview with Eyewitness News on Monday, Darville emphatically explained why conservationists are pushing back against government’s plan to increase fish harvest in The Bahamas.

“Presently across our planet there is a serious threat to the survival of marine species; it’s being depleted astronomically,” Darville said.

“To be aggressive in trying to double (export) to the take from the ocean is ludicrous.

“What we don’t want to do, is do what other countries have done and that’s to completely wipe out some of the best-tasting fish in The Bahamas.”

According to Darville, the increase in longline fishing and other aggressive fishing methods, is helping to deplete The Bahamas’ marine resources such as the grouper, lobster and conch.

The stocks, he said, are diminishing tremendously.

“…because of the diminishing supply of our national grouper, it’s difficult to find grouper cutlets in The Bahamas; it’s tilapia or swai fish … fish we have to import, that is usually grown in tanks and then harvested for consumption,” Darville said.

“If that’s the route we’re going to take as a country, then we are up the creek without a paddle.  Future generations will have nothing to take from the marine life.”

The Bahamas Commercial Fisheries Alliance  (BCFA) Vice President Keith Carroll announced that The Bahamas “was only scratching the surface of its fisheries potential”.

“There is a regulated size but there is no monitoring of the situation; no actual regulations,” Darville lamented.

“We are always prosecuting the Dominicans but, Americans are greater poachers in our waters than Dominicans.  These Americans come in quickly with their fast boats and yachts and brag about all the lobsters and groupers they brought from the waters in Grand Bahama.

“…they come and they dive in tanks, which by the way, Bahamians are not allowed to use … So, they take indiscriminately because they can go down and stay down (in deep waters); walk around the reefs and clean it in half an hour.

“…I am passionate about this because I grew up on the island, Long Island, and we depended upon the land for food.  When there was no corned beef, my grandmother used to say, “boy, go out to the sea and grab a few grunts.”

Eyewitness News was unsuccessful in reaching minister Wells for comment up to the publishing of this article.