China-Bahamas fishing talks alarm Florida officials

Posted at 8:42 AM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 18:34:51-05
THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE-- China is offering the Bahamian government $2.1 billion over the next ten years to split fishing rights, according to a report in the Nassau Guardian. 
The Bahamas would lease 10,000 acres to 100 different Chinese commercial fishing companies. 
The possible deal took local fishermen by complete surprise. 
“Shock. Just absolute shock,” said Captain Mike Genoun, editor-in-chief of Florida Sport Fishing.“It’s going to have a huge impact. An absolutely huge impact. Negative. There’s nothing positive about it whatsoever.”
Genoun said he is particularly concerned about the impacts of overfishing. 
“They will not only catch a few of the fish, they’ll catch them all,” Genoun said. “We’re already under a lot of pressure from commercial fishing, locally and abroad. To add that to the mix, commercial fishing by up to a hundred enterprises is just absolutely detrimental.” 
According to the reported terms of the deal, Chinese companies would be able to sell those fish back to the U.S.The tuna in your sushi could soon be coming from a Chinese company instead of a local fisherman. 
“That’s certainly going to have an impact on the price,” Genoun said.
Genoun said overfishing will also have an impact on tourism because Floridian fishermen will not go to the Bahamas if they can't catch certain types of fish anymore. 
"That's the reason we're going." Genoun said. "So if they think we're still coming to the Bahamas, that's just not the case." 
Florida wildlife officials have also expressed concern over the deal and they're not the only ones who are worried about what this might mean for the future of fishing in the Bahamas and beyond. 
“The impacts are going to be felt for a very long time and across a very big area,” Genoun said.
The deal is far from being finalized. Both governments are in talks but Genoun and other Floridian fishermen said they hope it will never come to pass.