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News : Grand Bahama Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Mellors produce support email from Ministry regarding net fishing
By K. Nancoo Russell, The Freeport News
Feb 25, 2010 - 5:00:19 PM

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Photo: Jenneva Russell

Freeport, Bahamas - The Freeport News writes: David and Paul Mellor, the brothers at the centre of a recent controversy surrounding their proposed tuna fishing program say they were in fact given written permission by the government to move ahead with their plans and would not have invested as much money and time had they not.

They claim their Bahamas Pelagic Aquaculture Tuna Fishing Program will harvest and farm tuna in growing cages for sale.

However, on Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources released a statement indicating that the government will not permit purse-seine or net fishing within the waters of The Bahamas and intends to make amendments to the Fisheries Conservation (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Act and Regulations to that effect.

Yesterday, the brothers told The Freeport News they do not wish to get involved in a fight with the government, but feel as though, if they are given the chance to explain what it is they are trying to do to the government, the outcome could be different.

They produced a letter addressed to them from the director of marine resources Michael Braynen, dated April 17, 2009 , which states that purse-seine nets are allowed in The Bahamas, as long as the mesh size is a minimum of two inches.

"I am not aware of any legal impediment to the use of such a fishing method by a Bahamian commercial fishing vessel to harvest tunas within the waters of The Bahamas or to the subsequent sale of such products within The Bahamas," the letter reads.

However, the letter also notes that aquaculture of any freshwater or marine organism is controlled by the Fisheries Resources Regula-tions and a permit is req-uired.

"Consideration of applications for such permits requires the submission of detailed information with regard to the site where the operation is to be carried out, the physical facilities that will be constructed, the species to be cultures, your source of supply, their diet, veterinary health requirement, the harvesting , processing and distribution and proposed markets of the end products and an evaluation of the potential environmental impacts for the proposed operations and any plans for the mitigation of any expected negative impacts."

In the letter, Braynen also notes that the circumstances do not allow a decision to be made on the matter at that time.

A copy of an e-mail from Braynen to the Mellors was also produced by them, in which Braynen writes, " As has been previously discussed with you, you do have the opportunity to target yellowfin tuna."

The fact that the government now appears to have changed its stance on the issue leaves the brothers at a loss, they say.

"Every one of you have jumped on-board including the Bahamas government without finding out all of the facts," they wrote in a statement provided to reporters.

"Our government was informed every step of the way and encouraged us to move forward with creating a valuable new industry in The Bahamas. They have know(n) our business model from the very beginning but it appears public pressure is becoming too much for them."

The Mellors say they have made several attempts to contact the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Larry Cartwright, to speak with him on the matter, but had been unsuccessful up to press time.

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