As of Tuesday, September 6, 2022
By LYNAIRE MUNNINGS
EIGHTY Haitian migrants were apprehended when their vessel was intercepted in the Ragged Island chain on Sunday.
Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Raymond King said the group will be taken to Nassau.
“Based on intelligence from a local fisher, fishing along the Ragged Island chain provided intelligence yesterday (Sunday) of a migrant vessel that was moving along the Ragged Island chain off Water Cay,” he said yesterday on the sidelines of The Bahamas Partnership Forum at SuperClubs Breezes.
“We dispatched our aircraft to confirm that sighting and two of our vessels which intercepted that vessel and is reported to have some 80 persons on board and those persons are being transported to the capital as we speak,” he added.
Mr King provided reporters with an update on illegal migration activity for the year.
He said the country continues to experience an influx of migrants either transiting through The Bahamas towards the United States of America and in isolated cases towards The Bahamas.
He suspects the “trend” of migrant vessels frequenting the Great Bahama Bank is in an effort to evade Cuban Border Control and the United States Coast Guard.
“What we found now is that those vessels are moving high on the Great Bahama Bank and so they are trying to be evasive from the Cuban Border Control, as well as the United States Coast Guard by coming high in our internal waters on the bank itself,” Commodore King said. “That seems to be a trend that we now have to pay attention to, those vessels being some 30 to 40 miles just South of Andros.”
Commodore King described Haitian migrant arrests as “passive”, in comparison to the arrest of Dominican poachers.
“Surprisingly the Haitian migrant arrest has gone pretty well, pretty passive,” he said.
“I’m unable to say the same for the Dominican poachers. Those attempted boarding have become even more hostile and aggressive. The tone and environment of those poachers have evidently changed over time and so we have to apply the approach force to meet that level of resistance.”
Last month, Commodore King noted that interceptions of migrant vessels have been largely successful for the year, noting there had been no recent illegal landings in the country.
“For this fiscal year, none,” he said, when asked about the issue. “We’ve intercepted every vessel that attempted to come to The Bahamas.”
Yesterday, Mr King noted these statistics about illegal migration activity is “still the case”.
“Still the case, this would’ve been the second vessel that attempted within recent times to come to The Bahamas. The last one was off Salt Pond, Long Island and this one now is along the Ragged Island chains.
“We are watching the trend, but we remain strategically postured and we continue to work with our regional partners, local agencies and the fishing community to provide the intelligence to us.”
Commodore King also noted a second vessel that was spotted by the United States Coast Guard.
“The report we got was that there were some 20 to 30 persons visual on deck,” Commodore King told reporters. “That’s all that we have for now. We haven’t been able to get any footage or picture of the vessel from the Coast Guard as yet.”
He said with the assistance of the United States Coast Guard the migrant vessel will be intercepted.
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