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.


21
Jan 16

Blackadore Disaster

Raise a hand if you’ve been to Belize.

A not-small Jack.

A not-small Jack.

Wonderful place. I love it there and really hope to hold my wife to her PROMISE that we could return for our 5th anniversary (we honeymooned there), if not sooner.

If you’ve fished there, you know one of the reasons why it is special… the diversity and quality of the fishing. The Belizians have gone further than most in putting in place protections for their game fish, which is to be applauded.

So, leave it up to some Hollywood nitwit to ruin it (or at least some of it).

Blackadore Caye is a located within view of Savannah Caye, one of the prime spots to go hunting for tarpon. It was at Savannah that I hooked (and lost) my first tarpon. It was where I landed my largest jack (maybe 20 pounds?). It is not a great place for a resort, but that is what Leonardo DiCaprio is doing.

This is the disaster of a resort.

This is supposed to be eco-everything. No fossil fuel use. Composted waste. All solar/wind. They make it sound like a godsend.

I can’t imagine it will be anything short of a disaster. You just can’t build something like that in a place like that and have it be zero impact. The thing that will be impacted first will likely be the fishing at Savannah Caye. More boat traffic isn’t going to do anyone any favors. It also seems the resort will make the island off-limits to the locals because the clientele for a place like this get uncomfortable when there are un-uniformed/non-drink-serving brown people around.

This map would seem to suggest that the Belizian people know what they want to do with Blackadore Caye:

Seems like the people of Belize want Blackadore to not become a resort, but seems like Belize isn’t going to get what they want from Leo.

Funny thing. Leo accepted a Golden Globe recently and dedicated his award to native people.

That’s some grade A hypocrisy right there. Leo should listen to Leo on this one.

There is a Facebook page for Defend Blackadore Caye. Join it. I just did.

Blackadore Caye, as a resort, is a lessening of everything Belize really is. It doesn’t need improving on, not like this, not by Leonardo.

 


15
Jan 16

The Bimini Ferry, Not Coming to a Port Near You

Resorts World Bimini wanted to bring rapid ferry service to Bimini to bring allllll sorts of flashy, cash-dripping Americans over to their resort.

Locals said “It isn’t going to work.”

Environmentalists said “It isn’t going to work.”

The Bahamian Administration said “I can’t hear you over the sound of all this money.”

Guess what? Resorts World Bimini got their ferry and their ferry terminal (at some high environmental costs).

And guess what happened next! Yup… the ferry has failed and the service has stopped.

The Bahamian people appear to be on the hook for this bit of douchbaggery.


05
Aug 15

Protect Bay Bones!

From BTT. If you fish Florida, please take the survey!

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: Project Bay Bones Survey

Do you fish for bonefish in south Florida? If you do, then we need your help. Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has partnered with researchers at Florida International University to create PROJECT BAY BONES to investigate changes in South Florida waters and how these changes may affect the quality of bonefishing. We need your help to fill in critical knowledge gaps on how bonefishing has changed in south Florida over the years. In the absence of scientific data on the health of bonefish populations, angler knowledge is an invaluable source of information. Thus, public participation is vital to the conservation of bonefish and to ensuring high quality fishing in the future!

You can help us by filling in a 10-15 minute survey and telling us about your fishing experiences. This survey is different than previous surveys on the bonefish fishery because it is tied into a larger study that is examining environmental changes in South Florida over time. Bringing all of these data sets together should help us better understand bonefish.

Click here to take the survey

If the link above does not work, please copy and paste the following URL into your browser: https://fiu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1GplxUPVHqt5xtz

We are looking for bonefish anglers of all levels and years of experience, including fishing guides. Your participation in this study is greatly appreciated and we thank you in advance!

For further information or if you have any questions, please contact fishscience@fiu.edu


22
Apr 15

Saving the Oceans

Since it is Earthday and all… a video about saving the oceans, those little places that are special and far away and most folks don’t think of too much. Except us, anglers, we think about them all the time.


24
Mar 15

Parks for the Bahamas

There is a push to get some new parks created in the Bahamas, specifically on Grand Bahama.

National Parks are created when a society decides it wants to protect its natural heritage. We’ve been very successful at this and our National Parks are crown jewels, special places.

I’m glad to see the Bahamas embracing what is special about their islands. I’m guessing that these parks would not ban bonefishing, as some of these parks are in the best stuff, especially the East End proposed park.

The site has videos you can watch with a bit more information about each proposed park. The East End park even has Flip catching a bonefish.

Photo-BahamasParks_1_.jpg

PS… If you’ve fished the East End, you’ve almost certainly been by the spot in the above picture. When I was last there I actually caught one or two bonefish right on this flat.


23
Feb 15

A victory for Belize and for us

This is what a victory looks like:

The Government of Belize through the Cabinet has approved the proposed expansion of Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The decision taken to approve the expansion of the reserve was made on February 17th following the completion of minor adjustments made to the original draft proposal. The decision brings the project one step closer to fruition following years of lobbying by marine environmentalists on Ambergris Caye.

In this day and age of zero-sum politics where your victory is my loss, it is unusual to see something where everyone wins. The expansion of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the rare win-win. Maybe there are some developers out there who lose, but I really don’t mind that, not one bit.

Expanding protections around Ambergris is fantastic. It is a special place and deserves not to be exploited to death and then left to rot.

The people of Belize win by ensuring that their natural heritage stands a better shot at survival, of thriving. With that natural gift come the tourists and the jobs and livelihoods. And we, we the tourists, the anglers, we get a better shot at that grand slam and the peace and quiet and serenity that comes from the flats when it is just you, your guide and the wind.

Fantastic and congratulations to Belize!

Belize Bonefish

Belize Bonefish


02
Dec 14

Queen Conch in the Bahamas in Danger

Cracked

Cracked

If you’ve been down to Florida in the past many years and enjoyed some Conch Fritters, you’ve likely been enjoying Queen Conch from the Bahamas (or some other Caribbean nation). The Conch in Florida are off limits since the fishery collapsed in the 80’s.

The Bahamas seems a world apart from the massive population of Florida. There are, after all, only about 320,000, as compared to 19,500,000 over in Florida. It seems hard to imagine the conch fishery in the Bahamas could face a similar fate as that suffered by Florida. The Bahamas, in places, seems like endless habitat for conch (and bonefish).

Well… where is there is demand there is money and where there is money, people will chase it down, bulldozing anything in their way, even their own futures. It turns out there are some real concerns about the fate of Conch in the Bahamas.

The group Community Conch is hoping to address this issue.


07
Oct 14

What you won’t enjoy in the Keys

You like conch fritters? Me too.

You know what you won’t have in the Keys? Conch fritters from conch caught in the Keys. Simply put, they’ve been over-fished to the brink of destruction and are now illegal to harvest in Florida waters.

I’m not from Florida… far from it. But it seems like things need to change if Florida is going to continue producing for all those tourists who come down to play. If you keep everything you catch, regardless of whether you plan on eating it or not, there will simply be fewer of those fish around the next time you head out on that charter boat.

It is pictures like this that have me scratching my head. You think they are going to eat all those smaller fish? I doubt it. If not… why kill them? Is gaffing the only way these guys know how to land a fish?

When I see that 84% of lobsters in the Keys are caught in their first year of life (they can live to be 20), I have to wonder how the fishery could possibly thrive under such pressure. Visually, it is striking to see all those lobster traps set out. Hundreds upon hundreds of them, one after another after another. You just look at it all and have to think “How is this sustainable?”

There seem to be PLENTY of mullet around and the big, migratory tarpon will come to eat the mullet, so maybe the tarpon won’t be impacted by the general catch & kill mentality. You have to think you can’t screw with things too much, though, right?

Am I wrong? Can we keep this up?

Bison skulls from around the time when we nearly killed off all the Bison.