A recent article in Grand Bahamian newspaper The Freeport News
addresses the issue of illegal bonefish activity.
By Nathaniel Lewis
There has been a recent series of complaints to police officials over the illegal harvesting and sale of bonefish, which is beginning to concern both sports fisherman and residents alike.
Local bonefisherman of 25 years, Greg Vincent says that the illegal fishing and selling of bonefish in The Bahamas is an "extremely important issue."
"The sports fishing industry based on a recent economic study has been valuaed at $141 million in annual revenue for the Bahamian economy.
"However those figures were also taken a year and half ago during a recession so the reality of it is, it's probably much higher than that" he said.
He further commented that in his view, one of the reasons this matter is not being addressed as aggressively as it should is because most Bahamians don't know the real value of bonefishing and it's economic benefits to the Bahamian economy and that most are unaware that there are fisheries restrictions as it relates to the fishing of this particular fish species.
"You're not allowed to net them and more importantly you're not allowed to buy and sell them" he said.
Vincent said that if citizens are offered a bonefish for purchase (they should be aware) that it is an illegal act and fisheries officials need to be informed as well as the police.
He said "I think the situation has been abused for too long, it's been overlooked for too long and I think what's been creeping into this is complacency. "
Vincent said that steps can be taken to prevent this from happening, and one of the best ways to implement this he says, is increasing funding for fisheries.
"Fisheries in general is probably one of the least funded arms of the government" he said.
He also said that when it comes to fisheries, there's very little to almost no enforcement and this too needs improving.
"Bahamians need to come together to police our waters ourselves and report any illegal activity, " he said.