Foreign fishermen in limbo with lawsuit pending

NASSAU-Twenty foreign fishermen, with a right to work in the country, have been shut out of a second crawfish season.

The Dominican and Honduran divers filed a class action lawsuit in December 2019 accusing the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources of violating immigration laws by refusing to renew their dive compressor permits.

But the season ended and reopened without a judge hearing their complaint.

Now, with Justice Keith Thompson about to retire, the case will be assigned to another judge.

During the 2019/2020 season, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Dion Smith asked the court to direct 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.

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.

Meanwhile, local crawfishermen fear that their profits will take a hit due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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  1. Sorry but I cannot understand this. Why are Bahamian businessmen employing non Bahamians when so many Bahamians are out of work. ? Yeah I read that they married…May I suggest marriages of convenience. Look at the background and dig a little deeper… I may be blind but I aint stupid. Immigration Dept…Heads Up please

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