If there’s one fish associated with The Bahamas, it’s the bonefish. After all, bonefish are featured on the Bahamian 10 cent piece—and an economic impact study by BTT shows that flats fishing for bonefish contributes more than $169 million annually to the Bahamian economy.
But there are challenges in this flats fishing paradise. Bonefish populations face several threats, including habitat loss/degradation and illegal fishing. BTT is working with numerous Bahamian partners to ensure successful management of the bonefish fishery. Our research—including tag-recapture, acoustic telemetry, genetic analysis and physiology—is focused on identifying important bonefish habitats and learning more about bonefish spawning behavior. This research informs ongoing conservation and fisheries management plans. It’s also used to develop education programs to increase awareness about the importance of flats and coastal habitats to the Bahamas’ economy and culture.
We are proud of our collaborative approach with governmental and non-governmental entities (including the Bahamas National Trust, which oversees the country’s national park system), as well as lodges, guides and Bahamian citizens. Our efforts are overseen by a dedicated Bahamas Initiative Manager, Justin Lewis, who hails from Freeport.
BTT’s work has resulted in the establishment of five new national parks and expansion of an existing national park, all of which protect vital bonefish habitat. Data collected by BTT has also been included in a proposal by Bahamas National Trust to develop additional parks. More recently, we’ve engaged in large-scale habitat restoration. Recent projects include the reconnection of August Creek to adjacent flats on the East End of Grand Bahama, and mangrove restoration on Grand Bahama and Abaco after Hurricane Dorian. This is largest mangrove restoration project in Bahamas history and seeks to replant 100,000 trees over five years to jumpstart the natural recovery process.