Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bahamian Fishermen Fear over Oil Spill in The Bahamas

Fear over oil spill
Freeport News Reporter

Local fishermen are expressing concerns about the possibility that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could reach Bahamian waters, and affect the marine life which is the basis of their livelihood.

Cordero Gardiner spoke with The Freeport News yesterday on the matter, and said he has been following the international news stories on the disaster and was alarmed by the thought of what could happen to the seafood industry.

"I already feel a little frightened because things are already slow. If that (oil spill) comes now things will be worse. If it comes this way we won't be able to go out there and dive. We will be stranded, no money making, no money to support the family," he said.

Gardiner said he owns two boats and goes out to sea daily with his two workers to catch fish and conch.

"We were now talking about that, wondering what would we do. This is all we do. We are fishermen. I never had another job in my life. The only thing I know about is fishing, that's all I do."

It has already been a struggle recently to get business, he said, since the seafood vendors who were previously located around the island were made to relocate to the Goombay Park area in preparation for the Grand Bahama Port Authority's construction of its Farmers Market.

The less accessible location and the fact that all the vendors are forced to compete for the same business has meant lower sales for him, he said. A possible ban on fishing, which is what has been implemented in Louisiana following the spill would be devastating, he added.

Another fisherman, Jer-maine Plakaris, shared similar concerns.

"I am concerned about how it's going to kill our reef, or damage our shores. It will make it little harder for us. I don't know if they're doing anything here about it but I know we going to be in plenty problems because it will affect our fish too," he said.

"This is our livelihood. I don't know what we would do. The only thing we could do is go out further but the oil could still be out there. Plenty people could be poisoned from the fish. Even if you go to another area, the fish could still be contaminated."

In a press conference on Wednesday, Minister of Environment Earl Deveaux said the government is considering following the United States' lead of providing some funding for fishermen who would have been out of work as a result of the oil spill.

Both Plakaris and Gardiner agree that the government should step in insuch an instance.

Speaking to the probability that the spill would indeed affect local waters, Deveaux said Wednesday that something as simple as a change in weather can be a determining factor.

"It's May and next month is June, which is hurricane month and a high pressure system or a low pressure system could change the course of the wind and this thing which is already 2,500 square miles big, which is half the size of our country, is not controlled by any man. It can sweep around Key West, we pray to God it doesn't but it could and when it does and however fast it does it is very likely to affect Bimini, Cay Sal, Grand Bahama and migrate to the west coast of Andros and Abaco," he said.

Today, scientists are to be dispatched to Cay Sal, which is the area the government feels is most vulnerable, to take water and marine samples and determine against the likelihood of the spill turning south and heading into Bahamian waters.

The government is deeply concerned about the oil spill and its likely impact on The Bahamas," Deveaux said. The country's Oil Spill Con-tingency Team, which has been mobilized, will work to refine the country's options, marshall national and international resources and to keep a watchful eye on the spill, the minister disclosed

freeport nassauguardian