An oil slick that could land in The Bahamas this weekend could have catastrophic effects on the country's fishing industry, said the general manager of Tropic Seafood - the country's largest exporter of lobster tail.
It could also mean higher seafood prices for the country and a falloff in tourists coming to fish in blue Bahama waters — if the current weather patterns propel the slick in a more easterly direction to the Cay Sal banks, Bimini and the western area of Grand Bahama.
The degree to which Bahamian fishermen would be affected by the spread is devastating, said Glenn Pritchard.
"I am extremely concerned, as should be everyone living in our country," the Tropic executive said. "This has catastrophic damage potential for our fishing and tourist industries.
"Areas such as the south and west coasts of Andros are extremely eco-sensitive and are the breeding grounds for numerous birds, fish, conch, lobster and turtles. If enough of that oil slick gets into and destroys the mangroves where these animals breed and grow, the devastation will be of such a magnitude that it will take years to recover, if ever."
It's a situation currently playing out in the Gulf, following an oil rig explosion on April 20, sending millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Ocean. Fishermen and seafood restaurants in the surrounding area are already reporting sharp declines in business as a result of the disaster.
Pritchard is now praying that a way is soon found to remove the oil out of the water before the oil's effect manifests here in The Bahamas. His company, the seafood processor for Bahamas Food Services, processes and packages its own brand of lobster tails, conch, snapper, and other seafood products for worldwide markets.
"Let's all hope and pray that the U.S. finds some way to stop this disaster before it does any further damage. My concern and prayers also go out to the people of the Gulf area of Florida and those in the Florida Cays," Pritchard said. "I hope their damages are minimal."
It's a statement that comes as a top local meteorologist confirms a shift in wind patterns will most likely slide the oil slick into Bahama waters by the weekend.