The Bahamas Weekly Facebook The Bahamas Weekly Twitter
News : Grand Bahama Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

BNT Expresses Concern over prospect of large scale tuna fishing
By Lynn Gape
Feb 16, 2010 - 11:32:25 AM

Email this article
 Mobile friendly page

Freeport, Grand Bahama - The Bahamas National Trust has been inundated with calls from our members and other concerned citizens regarding a fishing vessel in Grand Bahama being outfitted to net tuna on a commercial scale. The BNT feels a moral responsibility to comment on this proposed commercial fishing enterprise.

For millennia, human populations have depended on the oceans for food, livelihoods and the very air we breathe. This dependence carries with it a responsibility to safeguard the living systems that support us. Numerous scientific studies show that despite the enormous size and scale of the Earth ’s oceans, they are increasingly affected by human activities. Most commercially important populations of ocean wildlife have been in decline for decades. Food webs are becoming less robust, and marine habitats are continuously being altered and degraded. While many human activities strain the marine environment, the primary factor in the oceans’ decline is our demand for seafood. The science is unequivocal and for the most part the news is not good. Through the combination of industrial-scale fishing and ineffective management, a significant number of major commercial fisheries are in need of rebuilding and many have collapsed. Other populations of ocean wildlife, from turtles to seabirds, are imperiled. As a result, total global landings of wild- caught fish have slowly declined over the past two decades,

It would appear that the fishing vessel currently in Freeport plans to target Yellowfin Tuna. Yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean are managed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Yellowfin tuna fisheries under ICCAT do not presently have the detailed country-based quota systems found for Atlantic bluefin tuna. Stock assessments to date have determined that yellowfin tuna are fully exploited in the Atlantic with harvest levels near maximum sustainable yield. Concerns are growing over increasing catches of Yellowfin tuna, especially by longline fleets that are making unregulated harvests in the Atlantic outside the authority of ICCAT.

Some fisheries experts believe that with the Atlantic harvest of tuna near maximum sustainable yields that the warm waters of The Bahamas and the Caribbean may be the last stronghold of this important fishery species. Some scientists also believe that the southern end of the tongue of the ocean may be the breeding site for some Atlantic tuna stocks and should be considered as a marine no-take reserve.

BNT is additionally concerned over the purse seine net method which is reportedly being planned for use by the Freeport vessel. Purse seining establishes a large wall of netting to encircle schools of fish. Fishermen pull the bottom of the netting closed —like a drawstring purse—to herd fish into the center. This method is used to catch schooling fish, such as tuna, or species that gather to spawn, such as squid. There are several types of purse seines and, depending on which is used, some can catch other animals, such as dolphin, who often travel in the tuna schools. This method indiscriminately catches not only adult tuna but also immature tuna, thus dealing the fishery the additional blow of juvenile mortality.

Yellowfin tuna are a popular sports fish in many parts of their range and are prized for their speed and strength when fought on rod and reel. Many anglers believe that large yellowfin are pound for pound the fastest and strongest of all the big game tunas: renowned American author S. Kip Farrington, who fished the classic giant bluefin tuna fisheries of Bimini and Cat Cay in the Bahamas rated the yellowfin tuna as equal to a bluefin 'twice his weight'. Sports fishermen also prize the yellowfin tuna for its table qualities

Sportsfishing makes an important contribution to the Bahamian economy. Sportsfishing also contributes to development on islands other than New Providence and is also an avenue through which foreign exchange enters the country. Overfishing this highly sought after gamefish that is a critical factor in our billion dollar tourism and second home owner economy would appear to be short sighted. Further, this destructive method of fishing can also target other important sports fish species such as marlin, dolphin (Mahi mahi) and others, resulting in a devastating impact on our important sportsfishing industry

The Bahamas has resisted attempts by the Taiwanese, Japanese and Koreans to set up industrial fisheries operations on the premise that there was just not enough volume to allow it. The Bahamas ’ other premise has been that until our fish stocks could be restored to 1930’s levels we would resist outside and internal mass harvesting methods.

The BNT was founded by such respected conservationists as Oris Russell and Herbert McKinney who continually taught its officers and members that “so long as we keep our fishery to traditional methods we will never have crashes in our fish stocks.”

The Trust would urge government to re-consider any permits issued to the vessel in question and to move swiftly to enact policy to outlaw this unsustainable practice, and prevent what would undoubtedly be the beginning of the end of our lucrative sportsfishing industry.

We would hope that in this time when market forces are driving demand for seafood from sustainable sources, and that consumers are asking for seafood that is both good for their health and the health of the oceans, that the government of The Bahamas would continue to regulate our fishing industry so that there will be fish to catch – and people to catch them – for generations to come.” said Eric Carey, Executive Director of the BNT.

Bookmark and Share

© Copyright 2010 by thebahamasweekly.com

Top of Page

Receive our Top Stories

Preview | Powered by CommandBlast

Grand Bahama
Latest Headlines
GBPA Announces Six Senses GB Hotel, Villas & More
GBDRF & SBP Bahamas jointly donate $450,000 to launch new home repair program for Grand Bahama Island
GBPA Launch Freeport Business Portal
The Grand Bahama Port Authority’s GB Ambassador program enables global understanding of Freeport’s rich offerings
Dr. Hamid Seyfi departing Grand Bahama