Foreign divers sue for access to crawfish season

NASSAU-Twenty foreign fishermen have filed a class action lawsuit accusing the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources of violating immigration laws by refusing to renew their dive compressor permits.

The Dominican and Honduran divers, through their lawyer Dion Smith, have asked the Supreme Court to compel Minister Michael Pintard to issue the permits so that they can continue to harvest crawfish for their Bahamian employers.

The plaintiffs have Bahamian spouses and hold either permanent residence or spousal permits, which allow them to work without restrictions, the lawsuit alleges.
Despite this, they were refused permission to participate in the 2019/2020 crawfish season.
At a press conference held before the crawfish season opened on August 1, 2019, Pintard said, “The government is taking a policy decision to go back to the practice of protecting this sector for Bahamians. And while this minister is awaiting the written Cabinet approval with respect to it, we have no intention from this ministry’s standpoint to issue any compressor permit to any person, unless otherwise directed by the Cabinet of The Bahamas.
Smith says the minister’s decision has caused hardship for the plaintiffs.
The crawfish season closes on March 31, 2020.
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