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BAHAMAS: Three Dominican Motherships Captured in Combined Effort

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#Nassau, October 15, 2018 – Bahamas – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) escorted three “motherships” with 124 fishermen from the Dominican Republic to the capital after they were turned over to the Defence Force by the Cuban Border Patrol yesterday.

The Dominicans had illegally entered Cuban waters after being pursued by the Defence Force for illegally fishing in Bahamian waters. The apprehension was the result of a collaborative effort by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force with the United States Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Patrol over the past several days.

On Wednesday 10th October, the United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) VIGILANT with a Defence Force ship-rider on board reported the sighting of a fishing vessel from the Dominican Republic north of the Republic of Haiti.  The Dominicans aboard the vessel indicated that they were in route to The Bahamas.

The Defence Force was subsequently notified and Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship (HMBS) MADEIRA was directed to intercept the Dominican vessel in the event it entered Bahamian waters.

HMBS MADEIRA later sighted the three vessels at daybreak on Saturday 13th October with skiffs in the water near Cay Lobos–a small cay on the southern edge of the Great Bahama Bank, 12 nautical miles north of central Cuba.  MADEIRA deployed its seaboat with a boarding team to apprehend the motherships before they entered Cuban waters.

The Dominican vessels opened fire on the approaching boarding team while fleeing into Cuban waters.  MADEIRA’s boarding party returned fire in self-defence.  One of the three steel-hulled vessels ran aground in Cuban waters while trying to escape.  None of the Defence Force boarding team members were injured during the incident.

The Defence Force immediately alerted the Cuban Border Patrol of the incident and informed The Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which sought the assistance of the Cuban Government in apprehending the vessels.  As a result, the Cuban Border Patrol apprehended the three vessels with 124 crew members (Saturday October 13th) and turned them over to MADEIRA and HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES yesterday (October 14th).  HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES was also on patrol in the southeastern Bahamas investigating a separate report of a suspicious vessel in the area.

This is the second Dominican poaching apprehension for the year involving HMBS MADEIRA.  On July 8th, MADEIRA apprehended a Dominican fishing vessel attempting to flee into Cuban waters.  The captain and 46 crew members were subsequently caught, charged and fined $53,000 each totaling more than $2.3 million dollars.

Additionally, the Captain of the vessel, Radhames Hernandez, was convicted and sentenced to 18 months at The Bahamas Department of Corrections (BDOCS).

Coincidentally, in November 2016, HMBS MADEIRA, apprehended two Dominican vessels in adverse weather conditions in the Old Bahama Channel.  During the incident, one of the vessels attempted to escape by ramming MADEIRA, which incurred structural damage, and one crew member was injured.  The vessel completed repairs in February 2018 at a cost of approximately $250,000 dollars.

The two Captains and 50 crew members involved were arrested and fined $50,000 and $20,000 respectively, for an approximate total of $1.4 million dollars in fines.  The first offenders were sentenced to six months at BDOCS and second offenders were sentenced to 1 year.  The Captain of the vessel that rammed Madeira was given 16 months.

Commodore Tellis Bethel expressed much appreciation for the assistance provided by the Cuban Border Patrol and the prompt response of the Cuban Embassy here in Nassau in coordinating the apprehension and handing over of the Dominican poachers to the Defence Force.

In May of this year, Defence Force and Cuban Border Patrol officials met in Cuba and discussed how their units could enhance their collaborative law enforcement efforts during the 5th Round of Talks on Migration between The Bahamas and Cuba.  Not long thereafter, the Cuban Border Patrol apprehended 10 Dominicans who fled into Cuban waters after HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES captured their mothership in the southern Bahamas.

Commodore Bethel also expressed gratitude for the support received from USCG District 7, which has responsibility for maritime operations in the Caribbean region.  The initial action taken by the Commanding Officer and crew members of USCGC VIGILANT in confirming the vessels’ destination, and informing the Defence Force of the same resulted in a chain reaction that ultimately led to the apprehension of the poachers.  In July of this year, a collaborative effort between the Defence Force and the US Coast Guard culminated in a double apprehension of two Haitian sloops in the southeastern Bahamas with 162 migrants on board.

The brave efforts of MADEIRA’s commanding officer, Senior Lieutenant William Sturrup, his officers and crew members, who have risked their lives on more than one occasion in stopping the scourge of foreign poaching in Bahamian waters, were commended by Commodore Bethel.  “Their commitment, hard work and willingness to go beyond the call of duty is highly commendable” said Commodore Bethel.

The Defence Force chief also commended his Operations Commander, Commander Clarence Dean, the Squadron Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Carlon Bethell, the Commanding Officer of Commando Squadron, Lieutenant Commander Derrick Ferguson, the Legal Affairs Officer, Lieutenant Commander Floyd Moxey, and their respective teams for their collective efforts in coordinating the interception, apprehension, and hand over of the poachers to the Defence Force by the Cuban Border Patrol with the assistance of The Bahamas’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thus far, the Defence Force has apprehended two Dominican vessels netting over 50 Dominican poachers and 42,000 pounds of fisheries products for the year.  Fisheries products aboard the 3 recently apprehended vessels are currently being assessed.

The 3 vessels and 124 crew members will be transported to Nassau and handed over to officials at the Marine Resources Unit, the Bahamas Immigration Department and the Royal Bahamas Police Force for further processing.

 

Release: RBDF

Photo Captions: 

Header: Two Dominican vessels alongside HMBS Coral Harbour which were involved in an attempt to escape by ramming HMBS MADEIRA in November 2016.

First Insert: HMBS Madeira underway.

Second Insert: Haitian Migrants after they were apprehended in Bahamian waters.

Third Insert: Confiscated fisheries during a previous poaching arrest.

 

(For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website:www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and view ourYoutube channel)

 

-rbdf-

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Statement From Hon. Fred Mitchell, MP Minister of Foreign Affairs On the Passing of Colin Powell

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#TheBahamas, October 18, 2021 – I learned this morning  of the death of Colin Powell, the American general and diplomat. I worked with him as Foreign Minister in my first term, particularly on issues related to Haiti.

Yesterday in the CARICOM meeting, I recalled while discussing Haiti his role in the crisis of that time. I recall his life, times and work as generally thoughtful and considered. He was also an example of Caribbean success in America, one to emulate. He was the son of Jamaican parents. He was an example of success as a Black man in America. I am saddened by his passing.

On behalf of the Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, the government and people of The Bahamas, and in my own behalf, I extend condolences to the United States of America and his family.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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