October 27, 2021
Conch Harbour, Long Island. Photo: Justin Lewis
BTT is pleased to report that The Bahamas is poised to significantly expand coastal habitat protections, which include important bonefish habitats. The Government recently designated 40 new marine protected areas encompassing over 5.2 million acres of marine habitats. This is considered the final step in an ambitious program, the Caribbean Challenge, that launched in 2008 to protect 20 percent of the country’s nearshore marine environment.
Habitat loss and degradation are the greatest threats to the Bahamas flats fishery, so habitat protections are critical. BTT has long been focused on identifying key bonefish habitats and working to protect them in close collaboration with NGOs, bonefish guides, resource managers, and the Bahamian Government. BTT provided a list of priority bonefish habitats in need of protected area designation to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Bahamas National Trust (BNT) for inclusion in their protected areas proposal to the Bahamian Government. Of the 40 total areas designated for protection, 14 are areas BTT recommended for conserving key bonefish habitat, such as bonefish pre-spawning aggregation sites, home ranges, juvenile habitat, and migration pathways, were included in this much needed designation.
BTT will continue to identify key bonefish habitats around The Bahamas, study how bonefish utilize these habitats, and use the actionable knowledge collected to inform resource managers, government officials and the public about the importance of conserving this valuable recreational fishery, which generates $169 million (USD) annually for The Bahamas.
The new protected area designations are a big win for the flats fishery in The Bahamas.
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