The following letter from Mr. Chuck Pinder, a Spanish Wells fisherman was sent to the press and is reprinted here with the permission of the author.
Bahamas Fishing Industry Problems Swept under the TableChuck Pinder
I have sat back and waited all summer long to hear what this incompetent government is going to do about the illegal fishing by fishermen from the Dominican Republic. All summer long these foreigners which by the way Bahamas is the off season when crawfish spawn and reproduce these Dominicans have RAPED!!!!! In The Southern Bahamas. Numerous fishing boats out fishing for snapper or repairing traps (condos) have had interaction in which gas bombs were thrown and spear guns were held up at Bahamian Fishermen our own have been shot at by these invaders.
In May a Spanish Wells fishing boat named the Comfort Zone had a battle with them 30 miles in over the southern banks of the Bahamas 5 Dominicans were captured by them and out of 12 dinghies which were seized by our fishermen 540lbs of crawfish and numerous under sized grouper and hog fish were taken with no clue what the big boat had AND THIS WAS IN MAY!!!!!!
TIME AND TIME AGAIN for years we the fishermen of Spanish Wells have passed on information to The Ministry of Fisheries and also The Ministry of Defense. Lately all Crawfish Season long for at least the past two years the sightings of Dominican boats have been increasingly seen all over our southern fishing ground . They are killing our Conch Beds our Grouper and our Crawfish and any other type of bottom fish they can get.
To you our Fisheries Department WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!!! You create laws that you can’t enforce. Take for example THE Grouper Season, you make laws stopping the Bahamian Fishermen from catching grouper and THE DOMINICANS ARE GETTING ALL THEY WANT EVERY YEAR EVERY SEASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You listen to a bunch of people from foreign countries telling us that our marine life is in trouble. Well you know they are right but it’s in trouble because we allow foreigners to come into our country rape our marine life and then you start with your statistics telling us about the decline in this marine resource or that marine resource .The only problem we are having with our Marine Resources is that you either think you know it all or people in The Department of Marine Resources just don’t care. Maybe it’s time you start listening to the people that do and that would be us the hard working fishermen of this country and I say that coming from the island of Spanish Wells where 95% of the income of our island in dependent on fishing and also it’s the same place when you come here for a Fisheries Meeting YOU TELL US THAT WE ARE TO BEST AT WHAT WE DO.
And to The Ministry of Defense to the hard working Defense Force Officers that have chosen to serve our country I want to say thank you .But to the good Minister may I remind you that under articles of our Constitution you good Sir is mandated by law to protect the people and to guard our Bahamaland from people that wish to harm us poach our waters and also from people that infiltrate our country illegally. And so far This ADMINISTRATION has Failed MISERABLY.
These men and women of our Royal Bahamas Defense Force can’t do their job with the Defense Force Boats parked at PRINCE GEORGE WHARF. The Defense Force has to be vigilant and present in these areas, it’s does very little good to call in and have to leave from Nassau they need to be constantly patrolling the southern Bahama bank to get a grip on what’s going on.
And to you the Government of the Bahamas as a whole you have done more damage to the fishing industry in this country than any other Administration in the history of our country. Just about every branch of government in this country falls in this category first a few years back BEFORE the recession came you took away our Duty Free Tariffs on parts for our fishing boats we used to pay 7% then you changed that to 10% then you took that away and now we pay 65% on parts thank you F.N.M Government.
That was for the Ministry of Finance and now for the Ministry of Immigration AGAIN there are fishing boats tied up to Potters Cay Dock that are fishing in this country that there crew are Dominicans . A Bahamian Fishing boat came in this summer with over 20 thousand pounds of skinned conchs all the crew was nothing but Dominicans; what a disgrace and you want to know why our conch beds are dying out. You can start your immigration clean up out to Potters Cay Dock. And again thank you F.N.M. Government for allowing this to happen.
Wake up BAHAMAS it’s time to clean house as a born and bred Bahamian and proud of it for 43 years and a fishermen for 27 it’s time to rid this country of under the table politics F.N.M’s and P.LP’s alike need to see what we are becoming and that is a country with leaders that if it don’t affect them why bother. We are now being taxed to death by this government that in their last convention said WE GOT THE MONEY. And so I say to you like you asked former Prime Minister Pindling in 1992 WHERE’S THE MONEY?
This government is killing this country by taxing the very people that holds this country together THE MIDDLE CLASS. The poor can’t pay, the rich don’t care and the crooked is going to steal to get what they want, so who suffers THE MIDDLE CLASS. The hard working men and women of this country that struggle to send their children to school, put food on the table, pay their light and water bill and just try to make ends meet.That who is going to end up suffering the most. And once you break the middle class it’s all over then. Once again thank you F.N.M. Government.
I’m a hard working Bahamian Fisherman and I hate to see what our Fishing Industry is becoming, a lost jewel in this great country of ours millions of dollars worth of revenue lost by the Bahamian people stolen by illegal poaching, they come and take what they want when they want and however much they want. And this Administration does little to nothing about it. It just kills me to think what is this country is coming to when we are not willing to step up and take hold of this serious situation. Along with this situation on the 28th and 29th of July is the U.S. mini lobster season and for years that have fished the North Western Bank. Rouge Bahamian Fishermen have been working in that area well before the season opens and very little is being done.
You know Bahamas as you pass Fort Montagu Ramp as a little boy between the ages of 8 and ten years old I stood to the edge of the road holding bunches of fish to sell. Summer time I would go net hauling with my grandfather Mr. Purcell Pinder a descendent from Spanish Wells who was the first man to start selling fish at Montagu Ramp. My other grandfather Mr. Horace Sands was from Abaco and at that same age every August I would go to Great Guana Cay and go spearing CONDOS and that is where I learned to spear crawfish. Yes Ministry of Fisheries CONDOS being used in the Bahamas OVER 30 YEARS AGO.
To my friends and family in Abaco I hope you are reading this in the day or I hope you got a good flash light because I know you don’t have much electricity. Fishing is not just my job it’s in my blood and before I see it spilt for it, it’s high time that the government of this country do something about it. I hope you listening Mr. Christie because I feel sure that if you are listening and are willing to fix what’s broke all I got to say is IT AIN’T LONG NOW!!!!!
Former leaders have come and gone. Former Opposition leaders have come and gone in my 43 years all I’ve got to say is I don’t care which party you are for if you don’t do your job IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GO!!!!!!!! It’s time that we as a country stop playing party politics and keep the government on their toes. In my work place fishermen are suffering and we are suffering because of incompetence. I pray to the Good Lord that we find the people in this country willing to make a stand and say to whatever party enough is enough. Thank you for your time and may God Bless You and May God Bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Spanish Wells, Bahamas
July 27th 2010