Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources - Government of The Bahamas

11/05/2019 | Press release | Archived content

Response To Article Claiming Lobster Sector Severely Impacted Due To Dorian

The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) does not agree nor concur with the captioned headline 'Bahamas' $75 Million Spiny Lobster Fishery Has Been Set Back Years in the Wake of Hurricane Dorian.' The article was written by Daphne Ewing-Chow, an environmental writer with a focus on food and agriculture and was published on the site on October 31st, 2019.

While the fisheries sectors in both Abaco and Grand Bahama have been adversely impacted, it has not been to the extent of the 'huge loss to the spiny lobster fishery' as implied by the article. Please note the major islands of New Providence, Eleuthera inclusive of Spanish Wells, Long Island, Andros and the remaining southern islands where commercial fishing is prevalent, remains untouched.

In fact, the majority of fishing for spiny lobster takes place on the Great Bahama Bank, which is well out the impacted zone and remains fertile grounds for our fishers. Damage assessments of the Little Bahama Bank are continuing.

While we suspect that the marine habitats may have been adversely impacted, damage assessments continue and therefore, the article's conclusion that the long term sustainability of the sector are premature. Ms. Ewing-Chow's concern about the standards of exported product may be misplaced as all marine products exported from The Bahamas meet international quality assurance standards. In fact, The Bahamas ranks among world leaders in quality assurance compliance as our current good standing with HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) confirms.

The article by Ms. Ewing-Chow was the basis of an article in today's Punch by Nikki Kelly that also contains some statement we wish to address. While it is a fact that the government has not issued a statement speaking specifically to the impact of Dorian on the Marine Resources sector, just last week the Prime Minister indicated some relief that would be coming to our fishers. We will have more information on that development later. Our department of Marine Resources has conducted several assessment visits to Abaco and Grand Bahama, some of which included our international agency partners which include the FAO.

Our assessments have been challenged by the fact that fishers from the communities of Marsh Harbour, Dundas Town and Murphy Town, which are in central Abaco, have been displaced. This factor obviously makes gathering data from them difficult. Fishing operations in the north and south of Abaco have resumed. Further, it is known that processing facilities in New Providence are currently obtaining product from North Abaco at this time. We also understand that efforts are currently underway to restore the fish holding facility located in Dundas Town. The same applies for Grand Bahama where they impact of Dorian on the sector was felt mainly in East Grand Bahama inclusive of Sweetings Cay.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources will be issuing a very detailed and comprehensive report as soon as we conclude our assessments. This report will highlight the impact of Dorian on the sectors as well as our efforts to rebuild in the short and long term using climate smart approaches. You will also be advised of the outcomes of three international trips made recently by myself and department personnel where the international community was updated on Dorian's impact on our country's fishers and farmers.

Please note that the impact of incomplete sourcing for the articles mentioned can have negative economic implications for what has been a highly productive and important sector for our country. Our hope is to come back to the public very soon to update on the concrete measures being taken to bring the sector to full strength.