Bahamas’ fisheries face huge losses in wake of Hurricane Dorian

The spiny lobster fishery in the Bahamas was set to become one of the most lucrative in recent memory, but Hurricane Dorian’s impact will set the industry back severely.  

An estimated 95 percent of fishermen in the northern Bahamas have lost their boats after the Category 5 hurricane slammed the islands from 1 to 3 September. 

“It’s going to be a big setback for the industry,” Keith Carroll, vice president of the Bahamas Commercial Fishers Alliance, told Eyewitness News.

Before the storm, Carroll told The Tribune newspaper that more access to foreign markets has resulted in higher demand – and prices – for crawfish and spiny lobster.

“We can ship our lobsters all over the world and they would be accepted. We have more markets. We don't just have to depend on Europe and America,” Carroll said.

Fishermen were bringing in the “highest price ever” for crawfish at the beginning of the season, ranging from USD 14 to USD 15.50 [EUR 12.69 to 14.05] per pound, according to Carroll. 

However, Carroll now predicts that the Bahamas fishing industry will lose 30 to 40 percent in revenue. Fishermen in the northern Bahamas who can salvage their boats will likely not be able to do so in time to capitalize on the crawfish and spiny lobster season, which started on 1 August.

Meanwhile, some seafood companies in the United States are helping to aid victims in the Bahamas. 

StarKist is matching the first USD 25,000 (EUR 23,000) raised in donations through Feed the Children to assist in recovery, as well as sponsoring a semi-truck filled with food and supplies that will soon be deployed to the Bahamas.

"It's important to StarKist to support children and families during their time of uncertainty," said Michelle Faist, senior manager of corporate affairs for Starkist, in a press release. "There are many families who have been displaced and don't have the most basic daily essentials to get them through their everyday lives. We know that by working closely with Feed the Children, we can best help those who've lost everything to move forward and begin their difficult journey through recovery.”

Two scallop boats from Newport News, Virginia, will bring supplies to Grand Cay, Bahamas, a small fishing community with about 400 residents, the Daily Press reported. The boats will travel 800 miles to deliver tools, clothing, water, food, wood, and other building materials collected by Chesapeake Bay Packing from the local community.

The owner of Fleet Fisheries, which owns the two scallop boats, has ties to fishermen in Grand Cay in the Abaco Islands, the newspaper reported.

Angry Tuna Seafood Company, a restaurant in Panama City Beach, Florida, held a fundraiser for Bahamas victims on 15 September. All proceeds from the fundraiser, as well as water and other items donated by people in the community, will be transported to the Bahamas by private plane and boat.

Tim Jacobi, the restaurants owner, told WJHG/WECP that the eatery wanted to help Bahamas victims because of all the help they received after Hurricane Michael.

“…It’s a personal thing, it's not a corporate entity thing, we're going there because our families are interested in helping their families," Jacobi said.

Photo courtesy of StarKist


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