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Bahamas Lacking in Monitoring Tourist Over-Fishing


Tourist and recreational fisherman account for over half of fish caught in the Bahamas.

The Bahamas is a hotspot for tourist looking for a tropical vacation. One of their biggest businesses in the area is guided fishing trips, but no one knew the extent of their businesses on fish populations until now.

Thanks to a report released by The Sea Around Us, a team effort between the University of British Columbia and The Pew Charitable Trusts, we now know that anglers have brought in over 8,000 tons of fish a year for the past 60 years, roughly half of the fish caught in the Bahamas.

The government in the Bahamas only tracks large scale commercial fisherman, leaving small scale operations to fall through the cracks. This left large chunks of unrecorded catches out of the government’s official data reports.

The Sea Around Us recreated the information with population data and an estimated per-capital consumption. They then looked into catches by tourists by combining catch limits with data from tourism surveys done in the area.

The hardest to estimate was small-scale commercial fishing, since they often sell their catches directly to local restaurants and consumers. They interviewed local hotel purchasing managers, as well as fishermen, to come up with a very rough estimate of the fish they bring in each year.

The government reports show that around 321,000 tons of fish were caught in the last 60 years. By contrast, the reconstructed data showed that an estimated 885,000 tons were actually caught. Their reports also showed more detail in the amounts that recreational fisherman catch as well as species targeted.

This information can be very useful for the fisheries to help monitor fish populations and create better fishing regulations for a more sustainable fishing environment.

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Bahamas Lacking in Monitoring Tourist Over-Fishing