A 70-foot sportfishing yacht was stopped and had its fishing equipment confiscated while fishing in a protected marine park in the Exumas. Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a no-take zone, according to the park warden.
The vessel and its crew were intercepted about 1nm ESE of Warderick Wells Cay.
“Upon instruction from the Park Administrator, the vessel was boarded by a joint team consisting of the Park Warden and two Royal Bahamas Defence Force Marines,” the park announced in a statement. “Upon completion of a thorough inspection, and confiscation of all fishing apparatus, the Park Administrator and an RBDF PO joined the vessel. Under their command, the vessel and its crew were then escorted via military and park patrol craft to Blackpoint, Exuma, where the vessel and crew were handed over to the Royal Bahamas Police Force for further processing.”
When caught, captains and crew often say they didn’t realize they were in the park, park officials say, but the officials note that the park’s boundaries are marked on both electronic and paper charts, including in the Explorer chart book.
Boundaries of Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park run from Wax Cay Cut in the north to Conch Cut in the south, and extend outward 4nm to the east and west. The park is managed by the Bahamas National Trust. Bahamian law allows severe consequences for a poaching or fisheries offense. Park staff maintain patrol o ensure both conservation and safety are maintained within the park.
Fishing, shelling, and conching are prohibited within the park. Anyone witnessing such activity is asked to call “Exuma Park Warden” on VHF09. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force maintains an operations base at Warderick Wells, and assists park staff with enforcement. Contact “Defence Force” on VHF16.