Thursday, February 9, 2023

Pintard Dismisses ‘Not Sufficient Bahamian Divers’ Claim

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Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard is dispelling the claim that fish houses cannot find sufficient divers to meet the demands for their commercial fishing dive boats.

The big picture

  • One component of the Fisheries Bill 2020 prevents non- Bahamians from commercial fishing in Bahamian waters.
  • Fish houses such as Fish Farmers Ltd.; Three Ro Bahamas Ltd.; Audley Seafood Ltd.; Geneva Brass Seafood; Paradise Fisheries Ltd. regularly hire non-Bahamian fish divers for their commercial fishing.

Why it matters

  • Attorney Alfred Sears, QC, has presented a letter to Pintard threatening to file a constitutional motion against the government over the Fisheries Bill 2020 and the Immigration (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
  • Sears called the amendment to one aspect of the Fisheries Bill 2020 “unconstitutional, illegal and will irreparably harm” his clients, as there are not enough qualified and experienced Bahamian commercial fishing divers in New Providence to meet the demands of the lobster season.

What Michael Pintard says about finding qualified Bahamian fishing divers

Michael Pintard in an interview with the Nassau Guardian says the department of fisheries distributes more dive permits to Bahamians than to non-Bahamians, each year.

He said, “We issue, generally, 1,000 dive permits to Bahamians.”

“On the best year where you have the majority of persons applying who are non-Bahamian, around 60 dive permits.

“So, 1,000 versus 60, and on the low end, 800 versus 40, just so that you can get the context when people talk about the lack of availability of Bahamians who are interested in diving.”

He added, “When commercial vessel owners say the industry could collapse with devastation to this important sector, it is untrue. The statistics do not support that. Those permits these guys are getting, they are getting them for captain and engineer. The Bahamas, we have a lot of captains. We don’t need a non-Bahamian captain on a vessel.”

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