Bahamian patrol boasts yesterday took a dozen Cuban-American fishing vessels under escort to Nassau after seizing them along with 30 crewmen following a fierce gun battle Friday in which one fisherman was critically wounded.
The fisherman, part of fleet of 30 boats intercepted Friday while allegedly fishing in Bahamian waters illegally, were to be charged with poaching.
The wounded fisherman was reported to have been shot, when his vessel attemtped to ram one of three Bahamian patrol boats that came upon the fishing fleet off Great Isaac Key, 20 miles north of Bimini and 65 miles east of Miami, where the fishing boats are believed to be based.
Bahamian coastal waters were declared off-limits to foreign fishermen on June 16, 1975, when the islands extended their territorial limit to 200 miles offshore.
Since the lobster season opened July 26, between 50 and 100 foreign boats have been reported operating in the rich lobster areas of Bahamian waters to avoid the congested and heavily fished waters off Florida, according to fishermen in Miami.
This was the first seizure of foreign boats this year, and may be the start of a crackdown by Bahamian officials angered over published reports that Cuban exiles openly defy the Bahamian fishing ban on foreigners.
One lobster boat had to be towed into Nassau after it was damaged heavily in the gun battle. The State Department has asked the U.S. Embassy in Nassau to investigate the seizure.
A fisherman in Miami said that captured fishermen had told him by radio that theBahamians were treating them well.