NEWS FROM BELIZE
Our friends Ali Flota of Belize’s El Pescador Resort and Aaron Adams, Ph.D., Director of Science and Conservation for the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, recently released an op-ed letter regarding the proposed Blackadore Caye development. The letter was sent to The San Pedro Sun and Ambergris Today newspapers in Belize. We’ll continue to provide news and updates as the project progresses.
Here is the letter:
The flats fishery of Belize is world-renown because of the diversity of the species that can be caught on the flats, including bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook, barracuda, and more. Sport fishermen from around the world travel to Belize to fish the flats. In fact, the annual economic impact of the Belize flats fishery is more than $100 million Belize dollars. But the flats fishery is only as healthy as the flats habitats. Development and other activities that damage flats habitats will damage the fishery.
The developers of Blackadore Caye are trying to convince everyone that the flats habitats are not valuable. Despite claims to the contrary, the proposed Blackadore Caye Restorative Island Project will damage the flats fishery. This will happen because the proposed structures that would be part of the development will replace flats habitats with habitats that are not used by the flats species. So instead of having a large, continuous flats habitat around Blackadore, the flats habitat will be broken up by the new structures. This type of habitat change is called ‘fragmentation’, which has been shown by many scientific studies to have large negative impacts on many fish species. In addition, the developer proposes the creation of a buffer around the island that will make large areas of flats habitats off limits to Belizeans who make their living by fishing the flats.
The flats fishery of Belize is not only economically important, it is culturally important. For example, the job of ‘flats fishing guide’ is frequently passed along generations within a family, and many of the lodges that host flats fishermen are family owned and operated. The flats fishery was deemed so important to the future of Belize that the legislature designated bonefish, tarpon, and permit ‘catch and release’ only to ensure the fishery stays healthy. And since bonefish, tarpon, and permit have high survival after being released, this is a sustainable fishery. But all of this is in trouble if the flats habitats are not strongly protected.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is an international, science-based, non-profit, conservation organization dedicated to the conservation of the species of the flats fishery and of flats habitats throughout the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. BTT works with fishing guides, fishing lodges, fishermen, corporations within the fishing industry, and resource management agencies. BTT has been working with the fishing guides and lodges of Belize for 15 years, and will continue to help them protect their fishery for the future. This is why BTT has joined with El Pescador Resort and the flats fishing guides to oppose the proposed development plans for Blackadore Caye.
Aaron Adams, Ph.D. Ali Flota
Director of Science and Conservation Owner
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust El Pescador Resort