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


10
Jun 16

A little mangrove destruction in Fresh Creek

I saw some photos yesterday of some mangroves being ripped up near Fresh Creek in Andros.

Mangroves, as most folks here would know, are vital. They are the nurseries for juvenile fish. They hold the shoreline in place when the big storms come through. They are host to crabs and shrimp and all manner of wild things.

You shouldn’t rip out mangroves because you want to put in a fuel station.

But… if the reports are true, that’s exactly what our good ole pal Prescott Smith is doing down in Andros. Yup, that Knight of Conservation appears to be ripping out mangroves. And yes, that’s a bonefish flat right in front of the ripped out mangroves.

It boggles the mind.

The number one threat to bonefish is not angler pressure or illegal netting or pollution. The number one threat to bonefish is habitat loss.

There is a lot of habitat in Andros. Miles and miles and miles of it, square miles. It is the biggest nursery in the Caribbean. It is only that good because it is mostly intact. Bonefish won’t be lost by a few huge devastating blows, but by a thousand little cuts. This is one such little cut.


09
Mar 16

BTT in the spotlight

You have to love it when the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust gets into Forbes. The author, Monte Burke is an angler and he is a fan of conservation and throwing flies at fish, so it made sense he’d pen this particular story.

The story is an interview with Aaron Adams and I urge you to check it out.

BTT is an organization I support personally. I have talked to many folks there and believe in what they are about and how dedicated they are to their mission.

Go on… join BTT if you haven’t already.

Support BTT

Support BTT


25
Feb 16

Clip it… Clip it really good… for SCIENCE!

BTT is running a Fin Clip Challenge, sponsored by YETI from March 1st to March 23rd. Collect as many fin clips as you can from South Florida to support YETI’s Bonefish Genetics Program. You get the most and you get the YETI Hopper Cooler with art by Jorge Martinez. Looks pretty dope.

More details about the contest on the BTT blog.

I doubt I’d be much help since I live in California and my only bonefish was caught accidentally and was likely the smallest fly-caught bonefish in Florida in that year.

The bonefish