Bahamian Fishermen Endangering Their Own Livelihood

On Monday past the Department of Fisheries and police apprehended a local fisherman, who is believed to be a repeat offender, in possession of undersized crawfish.

Repeatedly, over the years authorities have warned fishermen not to net the undersized Bahamian delicacy, but were encouraged instead to allow them to spawn and mature.

However, the warnings seemed to have fallen on deaf ears and fishermen continue to trap the “baby” crawfish for resale. In recent times authorities at the local Fisheries Department have beefed up their patrols at sea and together with the assistance of the Defense Force and the police marine unit, have caught and put before the courts fishermen who have broken the law regarding the capture of the undersized shell fish.

However, the latest arrest mentioned above, revealed that the culprit is an alleged repeat offender which indicates that, obviously, some of these men are not learning their lesson.

Being taken to court and ordered to pay a minimal fine apparently, is not the answer to the problem that is continuing to plague the Bahamian crawfish.

While authorities are working to do their part in keeping a watchful eye out for offenders and with the courts levying the fines put on the books by lawmakers, these culprits appear to have a “don’t care attitude” about their actions – which can literally be described as “rape of the crawfish colony.”

Aren’t these men aware that, like foreign fishermen who cast their lines in Bahamian waters without proper authorization, they too are destroying their own livelihoods?

Do they understand that if they continue to harvest the small creatures that they do harm to an industry that can make them wealthy, if they allow the crawfish to grow to full size?

Are they so desperate to make a few dollars by continuing to snatch the small crawfish from the sea for resale?

Yes, these are tough economic times and yes, there are households that depend on the fisherman’s income of the day; however, there must be a line drawn in the consciousness of the diver or the trap setter as to the size of the crawfish which can be kept or thrown back to sea.

While all the blame, one may say is laid at the feet of the fishermen, fault can also be placed at the door of those who continue to purchase the undersized crawfish, knowing full well that the salesman is in breach of the law.

As the proverb states, “the receiver is just as guilty as the offender,” which begs the question, should a fine be levied against the receiver as well? That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, fishermen – those who continue to breach the law – should weigh the pros and cons of their illegal act and question themselves as to how their continued actions will harm their future and by extension that of a vital Bahamian delicacy.

Maybe a fine can be paid with ease, but if the vessel is confiscated and the fisherman cannot go to sea to catch the small crawfish for resale … maybe then the message will get across and the lesson will be learnt.

Just maybe!

Freeport News Editorial