22
Mar 17

Tarpon Genetics Reveal a Surprise

Martin tells me they also come in Men’s sizes.

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust wrapped up their tarpon genetic program and the results are a bit surprising.

You know those tarpon in Florida? And the ones in Louisiana? And the ones in Mexico and the ones in Belize? Also, you know those tarpon in West Africa? They are all pretty much the same fish, genetically speaking. That’s pretty amazing. All those fish and all those places are basically the same fish, genetically speaking. The fish in West Africa are basically genetically indistinguishable from the fish in Florida.

Read BTT’s blog post about it here. Pretty interesting stuff.


15
Mar 17

Help BTT get a new outboard

Related image

Hey folks… BTT needs a new outboard. Wanna help?

The sampling crew, which is supposed to be tagging tarpon and permit, has their skiff stuck on the trailer due to the dead outboard. Much thanks to the guides in the Lower Keys who have donated their time and boats to help out, but their availability is limited. And much thanks to those who have sent in donations to contribute to the costs. Any help appreciated. Needed: 60hp, 20 inch shaft, hydraulic steering.

If you want to lend a hand (or, ya know, buy them an outboard) send Dr. Aaron Adams an email (aaron@bonefishtarpontrust.org).


11
Mar 17

Odd happenings in Grand Bahama

Cruise ships. Not my favorite things, especially when it comes to dredging new ports and everything that comes with those ports.

So, news that a new port was going to be put in EAST GRAND BAHAMA is not good news (also known as Bonefish Valhalla).

Grand Bahama is kind of an economic wreck. The hotel market has been hit hard by the closer of the Grand Lucayan and some of the cruise ships that used to stop in GB are heading now to Cuba.

Grand Bahama is already a developed location, the second biggest city in the Bahamas is Freeport (at about 48K it is some ways behind Nassau at 240K), and the cruise ship facilities are already there. I know Freeport can be a challenging destination though. Good restaurants can be a challenge to find (although Pier One is AWESOME) and there are a lot of places that have a derelict feel to them. Casinos helped build Freeport as a destination back when only six states allowed gambling, but now you can efficiently lose your money in a game of chance in 30 states. The drain on the Grand Bahama economy has been drawn out with a combination of physical and financial hurricanes hitting every few years.

The Arawak Hotel, abandoned in the 80’s.

Still… Freeport is where the people are, where the workers are, where what infrastructure that exists can be found. The idea of putting in ANOTHER port, with all the environmental destruction that comes along with that, is… well… sad AF.

The story up at the top says the port with be on the North Side of the island, which makes zero sense to anyone I’ve talked to and it is generally seen as an error and that the port really will be on the South Side, which, as far as these things make sense at all, makes more sense. The exact location of the port wasn’t released and what is out there thus far still says the North Side.

A port on the South side is really unfortunate. A port on the North side is insanity. You’d have to dredge a huge channel and while the PM said the location was selected to have the least impact, there really is not place on the North that would not have a big impact if you were to put a cruise ship port and all the support elements you need for a port.

The other part of this story is… is this just politics? Elections are coming soon and these sorts of projects get announced before every Bahamian election, even if most of those projects don’t come to fruition. So… maybe this is just a YUGE campaign promise.

The idea itself, of a new port anywhere on Grand Bahama and even more a port on the North side of the East End… what a disaster for the Bahamian people.

UPDATE: I am hearing it is likely on the South side, although there is no update from the government on that.

Opposition to the plan has been in place for as long as word about the possible port was mentioned. This is from last November.


24
Jan 17

Tutorial on how to ruin a good thing – Belize edition

Honeymooners, Belize, 2012.

Belize is not a big country. It’s 330,000 people, plus or minus, makes it smaller in population than the city I work in, Oakland, which has some 400,000 residents. In terms of economics, the city of Oakland has an income per capita of about $32K, give or take, while the income per capita for the whole nation of Belize is just over $7,000.

So, it is easy to guess some of the things Belize does not have. There are some things Belize has in spades, however. Belize has in Mayan ruins what it lacks in Walmarts. The one big, big thing Belize has is a barrier reef. In fact, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It is massive. It is a treasure. It is probably the lifeblood of the Belizian economy, accounting for about 12% of GDP.

If you were to make of list of activities which could really mess up a barrier reef system, you might put offshore oil drilling high on that list. Cynics would be unsurprised to hear the government of Belize has moved in that direction,  giving the green light to start oil exploration off the coast of Belize.

I mean… why would you do that? That’s not a real question. We all know why. It is money and greed and the power someone(s) might be able to accumulate in a country with a population smaller than the city of Oakland.

Belize… I hope you don’t do it. I hope you build on your assets and don’t lose them under a slick of oily greed and shortsightedness.

Belize… I need you to be Belize.

 


15
Jan 17

Let’s look at Florida

I like Florida… but Florida is in trouble. Captains for Clean Water is trying to help.


08
Jan 17

The Skink Files – Foreign Sand

The US approved a plan to study how eroding US beaches could be made new again by, ya know, robbing other countries of their sand.

I have no doubt Skink would disapprove.

In fact, a foreign sand scheme was in a recent Carl Hiaasen book.

I would say “I can’t imagine a country in the Caribbean that would sell out like that.” but then… the Bahamas recently considered taking Chinese money to pimp their fishery and there was the one time a politician tried to sell off a graveyard in San Pedro… so, ya know… the intersection of soulless-greed and soul-destroying economic opportunity is nothing new and not exactly something confined to the island nations.

I would like to consider how Skink might respond.


02
Dec 16

“Restoration” isn’t what you are doing

On my google alert I saw the following headline, “Coldwell Banker Ambergris Caye: Blackadore Caye is Now Moving Forward to a Full Swing Restoration.”

Yes… see… they are “restoring” Blackadore Caye.

re·store
/rəˈstôr/
– repair or renovate (a building, work of art, vehicle, etc.) so as to return it to its original condition.

Blackadore will no be restored to its original condition, a state that it was pretty much in before Leonardo DiCaprio and his business partners took aim at the caye near some of the best tarpon waters in the whole country.

It isn’t being restored. It is being changed, forever (or, ya know, for the next 100 years and maybe longer). It is being industrialized. It is being developed. It is being taken from near pristine and made less pristine. You can’t restore something by cutting down the trees and mangroves and replacing them with buildings and docks.

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

As it was.

As it was.

Below, without the over-water structures on the top, right, are what Blackadore Caye might look like soon.

master-plan-of-blackadore-updated

Restoration, indeed.

And power needs and the need to get people, including workers to and from, and the trash produced, and the human waste produced… I see no way this ends up being a good thing for the environment, the fish or the people who rely on them. This is green-washing at its worst.

If I make it back to Ambergris, and maybe on my trip to Caye Caulker, I may ask just to go by Blackadore Caye just to give them the old one finger salute.


29
Nov 16

My plug for BTT

I just gave the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust $200. If you are in a position to do something similar, I’d urge you to think about it.

This is our conservation organization. They are looking out for the fish we love and the places where those fish live (and the economies that depend on those fish as well).

They are science driven, which, oddly, puts them at odds with some people, but I’m in the “pro-science” camp (how is there even an anti-science camp?).

They have big challenges ahead of them as the earth gets warmer, development pressures increase and marine ecosystems in general come under more and more threat. We need to support these guys and their work.

Go on. Do it.

mmmmm

mmmmm

Give, and you get... of course, you get fish, which is way more than anyone could ask for.

Give, and you get… of course, you get fish, which is way more than anyone could ask for.

Norman tagging a bonefish for BTT

Norman tagging a bonefish for BTT

yeah...  what he said.

yeah… what he said.

 


26
Sep 16

What’s happening in Belize, anyway?

There is a lot going on in Belize… but it might be easy to miss. It doesn’t make the news like… well… none of these places really make the news, but you know what I mean.

A not-small Jack from Belize.

A not-small Jack from Belize.

Leonardo DiCaprio is a dique.

There is a caye not too far from Savannah Caye called Blackadore Caye. Leonardo owns it and he wants to put a super luxury resort there. Now, it is very much not what this area needs. It is pristine and putting a resort there will make it less so. They bought the place legally, so the building they want to do on the island can’t really be stopped… but they aren’t content with building on the island, they want to put some huts out over the water, like you see in French Polynesia. One problem… such structures are illegal, unless you know who to bribe and what wheels to grease. So… basically, Leonardo is a dique. Here is a page put together by Orvis that lays it all out.

Belize netting

Belize has some great C&R legislation, but netting is a whole other issue. Gillnets and fish traps operate all over the country… and that’s not good for a country that depends on tourism for 35% of all jobs. Here’s some info on the netting issue.

Belize is a beautiful place. I honeymooned there back in 2012. I had my first trip in 2010 and ended up lucking into a grand slam. It is a place I think of often. If you’ve been there, you are probably in the same boat as me… hoping it doesn’t get screwed up.

 


07
Aug 16

Importance of genetic testing for bonefish explained

A recent blog post from BTT explained why they do genetic testing on bonefish. I know that many of you have collected fin clips and this will tell you why.

I got a few fin clips back in Andros in 2011 as part of FIBFEST II.

A few Androsian fin clips from 2011

A few Androsian fin clips from 2011