My Dear Bahamian Fishermen:
August 1st is the opening of the crawfish season and once again the fishermen are filled with mixed emotions, praying and hoping for a successful season in 2017/18. I have on many occasions addressed your plight and you have my continued commitment that I will speak to the issues important to the protection of this vital industry for Bahamians.
The PLP and 1 would like to wish all fishermen of the Bahamas a prosperous and safe crawfish season and maiden trip as the crawfish season opens on August 1st. The PLP recognizes the importance of this industry to thousands of Bahamians throughout our archipelago of islands, including Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Abaco, Long Island, Exuma, Andros and many others.
I along with the Bahamian people wish to emphatically remind Hubert Minnis and the FNM that fisheries and the crawfish industry might be the most important industry to many in our Family Islands. In March, 2014 the former PLP Government took a major step in the right direction, with the expansion of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force’s patrol fleet and the development of three shore-side docking facilities. The fishermen were delighted that the government was prepared to spend north of $232 million on this initiative, which will not only strengthen the patrol capabilities of the RBDF, but also play a major role in the protection Bahamian waters and fisherman from illegal poachers. Prior to that there was an explosion in illegal poaching during the off-season by foreign vessels, most noticeably from the Dominican Republic.
The illegal poaching has put at risk in previous years our entire marine resources as the illegal fishing is done without regard to species, maturity or sustainability of the catch. Entire areas are wiped out by the illegal poachers. We need to be serious about protecting this fragile industry so Bahamian fishermen can have a future in it. The PLP believes in taking whatever enforcement necessary, to preserve fishing in Bahamian waters for Bahamians. 1 ask the FNM government to continue with the patrols and to build upon the foundation of the previous Government and continue to protect the fishermen of this country.
Again, the Progressive Liberal Party and I wish the fishermen of the Bahamas a safe crawfish season and a bountiful catch.
Sen. Clay Sweeting
July 30,h, 2017