ministerofagriculturemarineresources

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

ministerofagriculturemarineresources

Agriculture Ministry Removes Debris from the Waters at Potter’s Cay Dock

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources said it has contracted a private firm through the eProcurement Portal to clear and remove remaining debris from the waters surrounding the Potter’s Cay Dock following a recent fire that destroyed vending stalls.

Why it matters

Last week, vendors complained that government was “dragging its feet” and they were still awaiting assistance. The Ministry of Agriculture quickly responded, calling the claim “misleading” saying it met with vendors and representatives of both vendor associations on the morning following the fire to plan the way forward.

Days following the fire, aspiring political groups showed up on site, video taping their attempts to clean up the space.

The Ministry said, “Before the contract for the clean-up could be awarded and executed, the vendors along with outsiders, including political personalities, began clean-up of the site. Debris remains in the water behind the stalls and will be removed as a part of the clean-up exercise.”

The big picture

Six vending stalls and dilapidated boats were burnt during a fire at Potter’s Cay Dock on April 12.  The blazing fire occurred shortly before midnight, destroying buildings on the eastern side of the dock.

What the Ministry is saying

The Ministry is saying the contracted firm will also remove parts of structures that ended up in the water as well as appliances such as refrigerators and stoves.

The work began on Wednesday morning and is expected to be completed on Thursday.

Worthnoting

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

More Bahamian Young People Finding a Place in Agriculture

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said an overwhelming number of young people have become attracted to agriculture in recent times.

Pintard said Bahamian young people are fascinated by the modern technologies in the sector.

“Young Bahamians are flocking to agriculture because of the ongoing discussion on precision agriculture, smart agriculture, climate-smart agriculture and those sexy subsections such as hydroponics, aquaponics, using new technologies to grow more of a smaller footprint,” he said.

Why it matters

For many years, the government has pleaded with young people to find an interest in the sector to ensure the country’s food security.

The typical Bahamian farmer is older, believed to be 65 years and older.

What’s happening now

  • An increased number of young people are applying to the government for land and farmer’s permit.
  • A significant portion is under 35 years.
  • Many professionals in the field are returning to the Bahamas to carve out a space in food security and sovereignty.

Pintard said, “We believe the future of agriculture in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is going to be in wonderful hands.”

‘Vocational Professions Quickly Becoming Primary Jobs’

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Michael Pintard encouraged a group of high school Apprenticeship Programme participants in Grand Bahama to “find their passion” and allow that passion to pay their bills, thereby positively change lives.

Speaking at the launch of the new programme on Saturday, January 9, at the New Life Worship Center, Minister Pintard said that vocational professions are rapidly becoming the primary jobs generating revenue that exceeds traditional occupations.

The apprenticeship programme was started by Dominick Roach and the New Life Worship Center, and has been designed to teach students of grades 7-12 about various vocations, including culinary arts, auto mechanics, plumbing, computer technology, electrical engineering and carpentry.

Classes will begin in two weeks on Saturdays, with some 20 students facilitated by professionals in various fields who have volunteered their time to the programme.

Minister Pintard told the high schoolers that such apprenticeship programmes are about self-empowerment.

Minister Pintard told the participants that Bahamians must learn to own the rock on which they stand, but pointed out that such ownership will only come about through the work of those who possess the skill sets.

The minister admitted that his generation and the one before him did not seize some key opportunities for skill development needed in The Bahamas. He said now is the time to prepare the next generation to take advantage of those opportunities to take the country to another level.

“My future, in large measure, depends on you young people and on the next generation. So, we are asking you who will be taking part in this programme to show up, listen and learn and stand firm.”

Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama K. Peter Turnquest, who also spoke at the apprenticeship programme, pointed out that back in the seventies vocational education was a key part of the educational system.

However, he noted, somewhere along the way it was determined that everything was more about academics and so the talents of many were neglected or pushed aside because focus was taken off vocational training.

“That was to our disadvantage,” said Mr. Turnquest. “I believe we are where we are as a result of the abandonment of those programmes. So, for New Life to reintroduce those programmes back to the community means that they are moving in the right direction.”

“I want to thank the Instructors who have committed to this programme because it’s a major sacrifice. So I congratulate you for that.”

By Andrew Coakley–BIS

(BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

Pintard Dismisses ‘Not Sufficient Bahamian Divers’ Claim

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.”

Pintard Defends ‘Bahamians Only’ for Commercial Fishing

Minister of Agriculture Michael Pintard defended the Fisheries Bill that passed in the House of Assembly on Wednesday. Pintard appeared on Beyond the Headlines hosted by Clint Watson the next day, expressing disappointment in parliamentarians who referred to a clause in the bill as “discriminatory.”

But the agriculture and marine resources minister received support from local fishermen and organizations like The Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance who called the new legislature “progressive.”  And The National Fisheries Association added that the bill is “comprehensive” and “put[s] Bahamians first.”

Why it matters

Local fishermen have long complained that foreign fishermen poach in Bahamian waters, depleting their catch while negatively affecting their livelihood. Reports show that many foreign fishermen from the Dominican Republic marry Bahamian women for work permits to be able to fish in Bahamian waters.

What the Fisheries Bill actually says

The Fisheries Bill 2020 regulates the fishing industry and prevents non- Bahamians from commercial fishing in Bahamian waters.

The clause in the bill that was criticized says, “No person shall engage in fishing or be employed on a commercial fishing vessel for fishing other than sport fishing in the fisheries waters; and use or be employed on a commercial fishing vessel licensed under this act for fishing other than charter sport fishing unless that person is a citizen of the Bahamas. 

Former Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest called the clause discriminatory

Peter Turnquest stood to his feet to ask, “Does that mean that spousal permit holders and permanent residents are likewise excluded from being able to fish? And if that is, in fact, the case, how do we square that with the constitution and general human rights? Because I would think that any spouse of a Bahamian should have the right to support their family in whatever their skill is and I think it’s a slippery slope because if you start with fishing, then is the hotel industry next?

“We do not want to continue to perpetuate a discriminatory policy against Bahamian women in particular because let’s face it, that’s what we’re talking about.”

How Michael Pintard responded

  • “I am disappointed in some of the comments I have heard from policymakers who would represent a fishing community that requires assistance. We have one of the lowest subsidy packages for fishers. When I go into the parliament, I am fighting for those communities that I represent to make sure I give them the best possible chance of succeeding,” he said.
  • “While I will highlight like any other socially conscious Bahamian would, any adequacy in the bill, a disproportionate amount of my time will be spent fighting for those men and women who are in a country right now where thirty plus percent of the people are unemployed and need opportunities. I signed up to be a part of exploding opportunities for them as opposed to putting a damper on what we’re seeking to do in abroad way to make sure the Bahamas can take advantage of the resources that we have,” Pintard said.

Govt Ending Queen Conch Exportation in 2022

The government is taking extreme measures to preserve the Bahamian conch by ending its exportation by 2022.

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said, “We have over the last two years, going into the third year, gradually decrease the conch quota. And so by 2022, there will be zero export of conch from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”

Why it matters

Research shows that conch is in danger of being overfished and is under threat of extinction in the Bahamas. The conch population is decreasing faster than it is able to reproduce.

What Michael Pintard says

Before the passage of the Fisheries bill, Pintard told the House of Assembly:

  • People leave a graveyard of conch shells which is a foreign practice that will come to an end through the new legislation.
  • Tourists can no longer harvest conch in Bahamian water and consume it. The conch will not be a part of the bag that they are able to catch in Bahamian waters.
  • Sports fishermen will have a boat limit on the number of fish that they can catch. The legislation puts an end to bag limits and has implemented boat limits instead.

“Those loopholes that people use to fill their coolers and their deep freeze and sell, we are now closing those loopholes.”

 

OK, Turnquest Resigned. Now What?

By now we are aware of Peter Turnquest’s resignation as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister as Finance following allegations of fraud when he served as a manager and director in two aviation companies. The writ filed in the Supreme Court does not name Turnquest as the defendant in the case, but mentions him in his role as manager of the company responsible for the “bogus loans” that totaled nearly $30 million.

Turnquest in his resignation letter maintains his innocence, calling the matters “unfounded” and “untrue.” However, in the court of public opinion, some have found him guilty. It is important to remember that these allegations are simply accusations that need to be proven by the court system.

However, Turnquest saw it necessary to resign considering his post as Minister of Finance, and determined that the allegations will distract the work of government as it seeks to maneuver the country’s economy through the pandemic.

Who will replace Peter Turnquest?

Turnquest was second in command to Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and rose to the position in 2014 when other party members opposed Minnis’ leadership. He eventually became finance minister in 2017 when the Free National Movement won at the election poll.

Under Turnquest’s watch, we have seen an increase of Vat from 7%– introduced by the Progressive Liberal Party, to 12% and a number of downgrades. But all in all, Turnquest has handled them decently, while remaining steady-handed and committed to public finance reform.

Minnis said he will become interim Finance Minister and will make an appointment in “due course.”

Scanning the Cabinet, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar will make a superb minister of finance considering his background in accounts and the many successes he’s had in the country’s primary industry, tourism, and his shrewd business skills.

Agriculture Minister Michael Pintard is well suited for the position of Deputy Prime Minister. He is young, articulate, thorough, and well-liked. Pintard is a man of few words in the House of Assembly, but when he speaks, it’s substantive. In addition, heading into the 2022 general election, Pintard is best suited to go head-to-head with PLP’s Deputy Leader Chester Cooper, who may change voters’ minds at the polls if they reconsider Minnis as prime minister.

Pintard can be to Minnis what U.S Vice President Mike Pence is to President Donald Trump. Pintard balances Minnis in every way.

For now, it’s a waiting game to see what happens next.

A Disease is Consuming the Country’s Coral Reef System. What You Need To Know

The Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease is destroying the coral reef system on the south coast of Grand Bahama and Minister of Marine Resources Michael Pintard fears the disease is attacking corals in other parts of the country.

Scientists from Perry Institute for Marine Science confirmed that the threat seems to be making its way to New Providence.

Pintard warned that this is a challenge that lies ahead for the Bahamas as the disease has largely gone unnoticed by the public.

Why it matters?

Corals house fish species and provide protection from storm surge as it shields the shorelines from waves, storms, and floods, helping to prevent property damage and erosion.

The Bahamian local economy receives billions of dollars from tourists through diving tours and recreational fishing trips.

In response to the disease, Cabinet has approved the formation of a task force to mitigate its spread. Pintard said the Ministry of Tourism recently approved to underwrite the cost of an assessment of western New Providence, where the disease has also been spotted.

What causes the disease?

ipoloria labyrnthiformis (grooved brain coral) Infected with SCTLD at Traveler’s, Sandyport, Baha Mar and Lighthouse Boulders © Hayley-Jo Carr (PIMS & Reef Rescue Network)

There is little knowledge on why the disease occurs and scientists do not know the definitive pathogen that is attacking the corals.

Since late 2019, the ministry was notified of the outbreak in Bahamian waters but the suspected bacterial disease was first discovered in Florida in 2014, and has since been detected in a number of countries in the wider Caribbean.

How widespread is the problem?

This disease is a problem because it has a very high mortality rate and it affects over ten species of corals.

Perry Institute for Marine Science said the following corals were most commonly infected:

  • Montastrea cavernosa (large-cup star coral)
  • Pseudodiploria strigosa (symmetrical brain coral)
  • Dilporia labryinthiformis (grooved brain coral)
  • Pseudodilporia clivosa (knobby brain coral)
  • Orbicella annualaris (lobed star coral)

Scientists said its survey of 1,257 corals in New Providence, 37% of them were infected with the disease.

The Perry Institute said urgent attention is needed to protect the corals from the disease.

“Based on the data we have now, we believe vessels commuting between Grand Bahama, New Providence and Florida may have expedited the spread of SCTLD.” 

Featured Image: Perry Institute for Marine Science