Fishermen Speak Out On Corruption In The Fishing Industry

Tuesday 17th, July 2012 / 09:53 Published by

Burton Bowleg and Clarence Moxey

A group of Bahamian fishermen are blowing the whistle over widespread corruption, poaching and a continued influx of illegal workers.

Burton Bowleg, a Bahamian diver for 14 years, believes the corruption has never been worse. With Dominican captains and fishermen permeating the industry, the unemployed angler said it has become increasingly difficult to find work. Illegal foreign workers, chiefly from the Dominican Republic, are beginning to dominate the sector. Dominicans offer a cheap labor alternative and often work outside the rules and regulations of the sector with impunity, he said.

Bowleg’s story, while known to many in the industry, serves as a glimpse into an industry rarely seen or understood by the public. He explained that Bahamians don’t typically come forward because fishing houses, the owners of boats and even authorities have become intertwined in a tangled web of kick-backs and bribes.

“What they do is, they give them money, and whatever happens, they just forget,” Bowleg said.

V. Alfred Gray, the minister of agriculture and marine resources, agreed that there are “many problems that need to be resolved”.

The senior government official cast blame on the “deceitful owners” of boats that hire foreigners and lead officials to believe they are simply working as engineers, rather than actively fishing in Bahamian waters.

According to the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance (BCFA), the number of illegal fishermen has risen sharply since 1992, growing from a couple dozen to now hundreds spread throughout the industry.

Clarence Moxey, a diver for the past 20 years, told Guardian Business it is extremely difficult, as a Bahamian, to compete in an industry populated with foreigners. Engineer or not, he questions why, in a country suffering from unemployment, their services are required at all.

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