Coastal Awareness Committee Presents Bonefish Protection Posters
The Coastal Awareness Committee of The Bahamas, a group of stakeholders from the private and public sectors with an interest in promoting the sustainable development of The Bahamas, recently presented Vincent Vanderpool- Wallace, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, and Lawrence Cartwright, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources with the first copies of posters designed to promote the protection of bonefish.
The posters were created as part of this year’s National Coastal Awareness campaign which focused on climate change and overfishing. With the title “Protecting Our Bonefish to Protect Our Economy” the poster outlines the regulations on bonefishing in The Bahamas, as well as highlights the important role bonefish play in the Bahamian economy.
“Bahamians are allowed to catch bonefish for personal consumption but buying and selling bonefish and using nets to catch them in large numbers is illegal. Individuals can be fined up to $3,000 and/or spend a year in jail for selling and netting bonefish,” said Jared Dillet, of the Department of Marine Resources, a member of the National Coastal Awareness Subcommittee on Overfishing that developed the posters.
“We have received reports of people using nets and wanted to create awareness, and in some cases remind people of the regulations. Bonefish are also extremely important to our economy and flats fishing has an economic impact of approximately $140 million dollars annually. Even if someone breaks the law and sells a bonefish at 10 Bahamian dollars a pound, that profit pales in comparison to what a sports fisherman will pay a guide just for the opportunity to catch a bonefish. It is in everyone’s interest to protect this popular game fish.”
Also overseeing the design and content of the posters was Natasha Arthur and Charlene Carey of BREEF; Janeen Bullard, Bahamas National Trust; Lester Flowers, College of the Bahamas and Peter Douglas, Ministry of Tourism, Andros, all members of the Subcommittee on Overfishing for the National Coastal Awareness Committee.
“We are also asking the public to help protect our bonefish by complying with regulations, using best practices for bonefish catch and release to increase their survival, limit fight time, minimize handling, keep the fish underwater when handling, do not damage their habitat and to support certified bonefish guides if they want to bonefish,” added Mr Dillet. “We can all make a difference in their survival and protection. The posters will be distributed throughout New Providence and the Family Islands this summer.”
“Our Overfishing Subcommittee did an excellent job creating the posters which were very well received by the Ministers,” said Earlston McPhee, Chairman of the Coastal Awareness Committee and Director, Sustainable Development for the Ministry of Tourism.
“Overfishing is becoming a problem in our country which is why we wished to make it one of our focuses this year. It is fact that we are seeing localized depletion of fish resources such as grouper, conch and lobster near large population centers. Our goal is to educate the public and to offer real solutions to people that collectively will help us as a developing country and as a tourist destination. In addition to the distribution of the posters throughout the islands of The Bahamas, the National Coastal Awareness Committee is in the process of developing thirty seconds radio ads to promote the protection of our bonefish. We are all in this together and as our motto states ‘If not us…Who? If not Now…When?”
The National Coastal Awareness Committee hosted many activities throughout April, which is National Coastal Awareness Month, and May that included national Public Service Announcement campaigns on television and radio; a continuation of the harbour clean up; erection of banners throughout participating islands in The Bahamas; primary and secondary school competitions; field trips with Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island, Dive Stuart Cove, Blackbeard’s Cay, the Bahamas National Trust and BREEF, were arranged to provide students with an opportunity to learn about protecting the coasts and enjoy the marine wonders of the Bahamas. There was also a national T-Shirt Day and beach clean ups in Cat Island, Crooked Island, Cay Sal, Andros, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera.
For more information on The National Coastal Awareness Committee visit their Facebook Page, or contact Earlston McPhee at 356-6963/67/38.community, environment, fishing