The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) held a public meeting on July 18 at the Anglican Parish Hall, and Angee Doerr, a PhD candidate from the University of California-Davis, delivered a presentation on the “Socioeconomic and Ecological Impacts of Condos on the Bahamian Spiny Lobster Fishery.”
Currently, the lobster fishery is a part of the Fishery Improvement Program (FIP), which is part of long-term goal to gain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. Doerr’s presentation took on a two-part structure based on what she has already accomplished with her research, and on what she will be doing in the coming months.
She began her presentation by providing background details on the spiny lobster, and the types of fishing methods used to capture it. Of all the fishing methods used, condos were believed to be the most popular method used by commercial fishermen in The Bahamas.
While the impacts of lobster condos on the marine environment have not been yet been scientifically studied within The Bahamas, Doerr said she plans to focus her research on the socioeconomic impacts of condo use with regard to why fishermen use condos, how many they use and where they place them.
So far, Doerr said that there are also some concerns regarding the ownership of lobster condos and the lobsters found in them. The threat that poachers pose comes up in every interview. Overall, she has received overwhelming feedback that indicates how positively fishermen feel about the use of condos, and in preserving the future of the lobster fishery.
Grand Bahama, Abaco, New Providence, Spanish Wells, Andros and Long Island are the islands targeted for her surveys, which focus on collecting information on demographics, factors influencing condo deployment, and environmental impacts to name a few.
Doerr explained that in Phase One of her research, 12 fishermen were interviewed and represented the aforementioned islands, and she also met with representatives from the Department of Marine Resources, BNT, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Bahamas Marine Exporters Association (BMEA). The remainder of her research will be dedicated to ecological and environmental surveys.
Doerr was hopeful that the potential outcomes of her research this summer will provide stakeholders with information to better manage condos in The Bahamas.
In attendance at the meeting were BNT staff members namely David Knowles, director of parks for the Bahamas National Trust; and Fisheries Officers Jeremie Saunders and Leon Pinder from the Department of Marine Resources.