Guy Harvey Magazine — Winter/Spring 2018

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Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park • Protecting Precious Resources in The Bahamas

Fishing Politics Finding the Balance Between Rules and Recreation

The Battle for Bristol Bay Fighting Big Gold to Save Alaskan Salmon



The Art of Ocean Conservation VOLUME 9, ISSUE 30 WINTER/SPRING 2018 $6.95

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WILDLIFE IN THE EXUMA CAYS Birds, reptiles, rodents, fish and other critters thrive here. BY LYNN GAPE

How the Bahamas National Trust was created to successfully protected the island nation’s precious resources. BY ERIC CAREY





A descendant of legendary Russian author Leo Tolstoy was a

an intricate network of hard-working folks who spend every day of

Land and Sea Park.

their lives working on the rules and regulations to keep us on the



water and having fun.


A close look at why this Marine Protected Area has some of the

other areas.

what we must do to protect them.


THE COMPLEX FUTURE OF MARINE PARKS Director Joe Ierna of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park outlines the successful model for this marine park and how other parks around the world can use this knowledge as a template to conserve other

FISHERY MANAGEMENT STATES VS. FEDS States rights are a huge issue these days - in fishing as well as

healthiest, and yet also threatened, coral reefs in the world and


If you thought fishing was just about hanging out with your buds, drinking cold brewskis and casting for big ’uns, think again. There’s

driving force behind helping to create the amazing Exuma Cays





RECREATION AND REGULATION We all need boundaries as long as they don’t infringe on our fun. BY MIKE LEONARD


60 FOR 60 Can the angler population grow to 60 million fisherman in 60

sensitive areas.

months? That’s the goal.



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Battle For Bristol Bay

Tracking Sharks for Science

It’s one of those cosmic ironies: the world’s greatest salmon fishery

Guy discusses his long relationship with The Bahamas and the

is set next to one of the world’s largest deposits of gold. Can they

sharks he has studied, tagged, photographed and admired.

coexist? Author JJ Waters digs in to see what she can find out.




News, Notes & Gear



The Kayak Revolution

There’s a new Ford truck in town with Guy’s name on it; some

How to become a certified kayakaholic.

folks want to make fishing an Olympic sport; seals freak out


when sharks are around; and a tiger shark travels 40,000 miles. BY GHM STAFF




Xuma Cuisine



Hooked on the Bahamas The Freditor talks about his love affair with The Bahamas. BY FRED GARTH

Check out the lobster and other seafood delights from Chef Corrie, manager of the Xuma Restaurant at the Highbourne Cay Resort located near the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. BY GHM STAFF



Colin Ruggiero We are pleased to showcase the spectacular eye-candy of photographer Colin Ruggiero. Prepare for your jaw to drop.

On the Cover: Eye of the Tiger by Dr. Guy Harvey | 5


CREDITS TO: PUBLISHER Lost Key Publishin Managing Editor Danny Thornton, Nick Honachefsk Art Director Nathan Dillaha Circulation Director Maura Jones Director of Sales & Marketing JJ Waters Social Media Consultant David Wilkinson Accounting Karen Belse Copy Editor Kerrie Alle Contributing Editors Dr. Guy Harvey, Danny Thornt Contributors Eric Carey, Kevin Cartwright, Craig Dahlgr Bernard Dupont, Lynn Gape, Pierson Grant, Joe Iern Mike Leonard, Matt Luck, William Mackin, Chris M Lorraine Minns, Liz Ogilve, Colin Ruggier Bob Waldrop, JJ Water Editorial Advisory Board Dr. Guy Harvey, Chad Henderson, Bill Shed Dr. Mahmood Shivji, Harvey Taulien John Guidroz, David Wilkinso


Finding an environmentally-friendly printer is important to us. That’s w

this magazine is printed at Publishers Press in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Publishers Press recycles m than 50 million pounds of paper products each year, which saves 10 million gallons of oil, 35,000 tree and 14 million gallons of water. Publishers Press also recycles more than 300,000 pounds of aluminu printing plates annually and no hazardous wastes are ever sent to a landfill, but are recycled and reuse

Additionally, they recycle 217 tons of plastic each year and have set aside 550 of the 700 acre they own to be used for conservation and recreation

GUY HARVEY MAGAZINE (ISSN 2162111X) is published four times per year (quarterly) by Lost Ke LLC, 7166 Sharp Reef Road, Pensacola, Fl 32507. Periodicals postage paid at Pensacola, Florida, a additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Guy Harvey Magazine, PO Bo Pensacola, FL 32591-3274. No part of this magazine can be reproduced without express written permiss from Lost Key Publishing. Occasionally, we may make all or part of our subscriber list available to care screened companies that offer products and/or services that may interest you. To subscribe to Guy Harve Magazine, call our toll-free subscription number, 888.275.285

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S t. A u g u

s ti n e



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Compact & Durable

COLIN RUGGIERO Colin Ruggiero is an independent filmmaker and photographer based in Missoula, Montana.

Walk where no other topwater has walked before!

He received his M.F.A. in documentary filmmaking from the Discovery Network’s Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program in 2005, and since then, has produced a variety of award-

The PT-7’s aerodynamic body casts like a bullet and skips into tight places where others can’t. 3” length and 1/2 oz., this soft plastic minesweeper detonates explosive strikes like no other topwater on the market today. Redfish, seatrout and largemouth bass find its “walk-the-dog” action simply irresistible. Pre-rigged with a single premium 6/0 EWG hook, it keeps big fish on where standard trebles fail.

winning independent films and shorts for both broadcast and independent release. He’s shot for National Geographic, Discovery, and the BBC, among many others. His love of the ocean led to his award-winning 2014 film Exuma, about The Bahamas, as well

10 realistic colors with several more on the way.

as underwater cinematography work for clients such as the Bahamas National

w w w. d o a l u r e s . c o m

Trust, the Canadian Film Board, the Mexican Board of Tourism and National Geographic Wild. His main passion is for the natural world and, in addition to his other film and photo work, he creates an ongoing series of short videos, called Chasing Light, about shooting timelapses for the state of Montana. He is also a filmmaking instructor at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography where he teaches workshops for their Professional Intensive program. To find out more about Colin and his work, visit:

Above: Colin Ruggiero in the field filming.

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TRACKING SHARKS FOR SCIENCE Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of downtime in the vast

hundred dollars at the seafood market, whereas a live shark

under the water! The diving, as well as the fishing, is world

can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in tourism

class and enough to get even a seasoned waterman’s heart

revenue. I believe that without an organization like the BNT,

pumping. But, my primary relationship with The Bahamas has

whose charter is to conserve and protect their land and sea,

revolved around a species that I’ve devoted much of my life

these measures wouldn’t have been fully realized. That’s why

to: sharks. Back in the 1990s, The Bahamas took the proactive

we’re proud to feature one of The Bahamas’ most stunning

step of banning commercial longline fishing for sharks. And

jewels, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, in this issue.

they have continued to prove their commitment to protecting

GUY HARVEY, PhD is an internationally-acclaimed artist, fisherman, scientist, and

shark-watching dives. One harvested shark might bring a few

and spectacular archipelago of The Bahamas. As in, down

Since those days of working with the BNT almost 10 years

this highly threatened apex predator. Simply put, The

ago, I’ve regularly visited an area off the west end of Grand

Bahamas has become the world leader in shark conservation

Bahama known as Tiger Beach. This is where some very beefy,

by recognizing that live animals have exponentially more

yet gently social, tiger sharks hang out and mingle with divers.

value—both to the marine ecosystem and to the economy—

The access has allowed scientists to study their behaviour in

than dead ones.

close proximity. It’s also a place where we’ve tagged sharks

The longlining ban was a thoughtful first step. However,

and tracked them for over many thousands of miles. In fact,

world traveler, who devotes

around 2010, a commercial fishing operation began to make

Andy, a tiger we tagged in Bermuda almost four years ago,

much of his time and money

plans to export sharks to the Far East to fill the insatiable

visits this area almost as much as I do. You can read more

toward ocean conservation.

appetite for shark fin soup. That announcement helped to

about Andy’s amazing journey in this issue.

rally the troops, so to speak, and I joined a coalition led by the

Finally, I’m very proud to announce that this is the 30th

Bahamas National Trust to lobby The Bahamian government

edition of Guy Harvey Magazine that you are now reading. We

to ban all commercial shark fishing. We kicked off a “Protect

covered a lot of vital conservation issues in some 3,000 printed

Bahamas Sharks” campaign with a poster and logo I created.

pages over the past seven years and pushed most of it out

A petition was signed by 5,000 Bahamian residents, and

over social media and online. You can check in with the Guy

after many months of hard work, the government made

Harvey organization’s social media channels every day, but

the prudent decision to protect the entire 240,000 square

there’s still something special about a magazine that allows us

miles of Bahamian waters. In my opinion, it was the single

the opportunity to dive deep into subjects that matter to you,

most important action to protect a species that is still being

me and the marine environment. I want to thank you for your

decimated at a rate of 70 million sharks per year.

continued support.

Not only is protecting sharks good for the ocean, but live sharks generate millions of dollars to the economy through

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Fair winds and tight lines. | 11

NEWS, NOTES & GEAR Yacht Preserver Here’s a product to save your offshore fishing boat from a quick trip to the

exhaust hole to stop the flow of water when the risers are removed. Well,

bottom of the slimy sea. It’s an inflatable “plug” for the exhaust pipe for inboard

no need for that kind of jack-leg solution anymore, Bubba. You guessed it.

engines. Exhaust holes are typically at or below the surface of the water to help

Yacht Preserver!

dissipate engine noise. So they all have risers built into the exhaust pipe, which

For mechanics who charge exorbitant rates, the YP is inflated using a manual

are above the water line, to keep sea water from flowing in and sinking your

air pump because, hey, they have time and you’re paying them by the hour. But,

floating investment/joy ride. The Yacht Preserver is intended to prevent disaster

in emergencies, like when you’re sinking and bobbing around amongst boat

in the event that your risers rust out, fail or dip below the surface—something

cushions and empty beer cans, the YP has a CO2 cartridge to seal the exhaust

that is all too common.

hole in seconds. Otherwise, it’s bye bye boatie and hello insurance adjuster.

The ingenious product can be used during regular maintenance or in case of emergency. For maintenance, when your risers need replacing (they do rust

The YP can stop that flow and give you added time to survive, or maybe save your vessel.

out eventually), normally it’s an expensive trip in the hoist and up on the hard in

As their website says, “You wouldn’t leave the dock without a life jacket,

the yard. Some creative mechanics avoid the expense and hassle of pulling the

don’t leave without Yacht Preserver!” And there you go. A catchy product with a

boat from the water by stuffing beach balls or volleyballs or even towels into the

catchy name. For more info, go to:

A close-up shot of the Yacht Preserver. Photo courtesy of

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New 2018 Guy Harvey Limited Edition Ford™ F-150 If your New Year’s resolutions were to lose 20 pounds, quit drinking and buy a new truck, you’re in luck. That is, on the third one, because we all know the weight loss and drinking thing didn’t happen. However, you can pick up a shiny new, limited-edition, 2018 Guy Harvey-branded Ford® F-150. One drawback, they’re only offered in Florida. But, you can always visit the Sunshine State, buy your truck and drive it back to wherever you reside. As with all Guy Harvey products sold, a portion of proceeds of the limited-edition trucks go to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to help conserve the marine environment. “We appreciate Guy’s work and welcome the opportunity to work together to generate awareness and funding for the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation,” said

Above: Dr. Guy Harvey

Christopher DeHayes, accessories division manager of The

with the 2018 Guy

Parts House. “Ford Accessories and Guy Harvey are bringing


together two extraordinary brands to create a statement on

Ford™ F-150.

our roadways.”

Left: The Guy Harvey

These limited edition trucks feature Ford’s™ new hard

Edition door badge.

roll-up bed cover with the Guy Harvey logo, Guy Harvey designed custom bed mat, polished stainless steel Guy Harvey logo sill plates, unique Guy Harvey designed lower rocker graphics, custom embroidered floor mats, Guy Harvey Edition badging with three exterior emblems on the front doors and rear tailgate, and one interior badge. Purchasers of 2018 Guy Harvey Special Edition trucks may also request a limited production commemorative print, signed by Dr. Harvey, as a keepsake. “We are thrilled that the Florida Ford™ dealers are joining us in our mission to inspire the world to be better stewards of ocean resources and help save the seas for future generations,” said Dr. Harvey. Now, all we need is a special edition boat and trailer we can pull behind that F-150! | 13

Left: A great white shark attacks a decoy seal in Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Bernard Dupont.

Stressed Out Seals If a sinking boat gets you jumpy, how would you feel about swimming among hungry great white sharks? Well, believe it or not, researchers have spent a lot of money and several years to prove the extremely obvious conclusion that seals get stressed out when great whites are nearby and attacking them. The study is titled, “Physiological stress responses to natural variation in predation risk: evidence

somewhat stinky. The team collected fecal samples of seals in areas where sharks

from white sharks and seals.” It was funded, in part, by Canon USA and the Herbert

were not present, as well as the poop of seals where shark attacks were frequent.

Hoover Foundation.

They then measured and compared the levels of glucocorticoid metabolite

The three-year study, led by the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, looked at fur seals living among one of the

concentrations, a cortisol stress hormone, in the fecal samples. The researchers found that seals exhibited high stress levels at locations

densest populations of great white sharks off South Africa’s Western Cape to test

where they were at risk of unpredictable and lethal attack from great whites,

this predation-stress hypothesis in the wild. They discovered what anyone who

whereas seals that were lounging and sunning on rocks in areas without sharks

has seen a cat chase a mouse might surmise: that the seals were, in fact, extremely

were not stressed.

freaked out when they were on the verge of being ripped apart by the jagged teeth of massive sharks. Even though the conclusion of the study was predictable, the methodology the researchers used to prove this phenomenon was biologically sound, if not

According to the study’s co-author Scott Creel, a professor at Montana State University, “Comparable stress responses were not detected in places and times where sharks were not hunting.” So now we know.


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Guy Harvey Magazine Turns 30 BY FRED GARTH In truth, it all began way back in 1988 at a little joint called My Bar in Grand Cayman. I was writing an article for a scuba diving magazine and a local dive guide introduced me to an up and coming, but little known artist. “Fred,” he said, “this is Guy Harvey.” We chatted about scuba diving, magazines, art and had a jolly old time over a few cocktails. Fast forward 21 years. I was back in Grand Cayman, but this time, Guy and I were at his super cool gallery in downtown George Town discussing a new magazine launch. We decided to publish a quarterly magazine about marine conservation through the lens of fishing, boating and diving. We’d have awesome photography, the best writers and include all the amazing efforts Guy was involved with. Our first issue hit in 2010 and we haven’t looked back, until now. This edition of Guy Harvey Magazine marks our 30th issue. We’re proud of what the magazine represents and what Guy has accomplished in the past seven years. We’ve seen both of his kids, Alex and Jessica, graduate from college and jump into the family business. We’ve seen the growth of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and the Guy Harvey Research Institute. And, we’ve seen Guy’s social media presence blast off like a missile. There are too many other events to talk about, but let’s just say that if the past is any indication of the future, then the Guy Harvey rocket ship is just kicking in its afterburners.

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Our thanks to Dr. Guy Harvey for being such an amazing subject to cover!


The Fishing Olympics?

Andy the Tiger Shark Sets Record

Back when the Greeks organized the Olympics, they did what they knew— tossed discs, spears and lead balls as far as they could. Oh, and they ran around in circles. We still do all of that stuff but, as Bob Dylan said, the times they are a changin’. In fact, golf, ping pong and handball are recent additions to the Olympic games, with skateboarding, surfing and climbing coming on board in 2020. So why not fishing? Exactly. This is one of the reasons fishing groups from the U.S., Mexico and other Latin American countries gathered in Cancun last November for the inaugural assembly of the Pan American Sportfishing Delegation. The purpose of the group is to promote sportfishing as a competitive sport and share a unified front of fisheries conservation. The association strives to have sportfishing added to the Pan American Games and, with cooperation from European countries, the long-term goal is to make fishing an Olympic sport. The Federación Costarricense de Pesca (FECOP), a Costa Rica non-profit representing eight sportfishing associations as well as the National Fishing Club and the Club Amateur de Pesca, represented Costa Rica in the Pan American Delegation. FECOP has been a pioneer in marine conservation in Costa Rica and has stopped the exportation of sailfish, as well as sponsored and supplied the science to protect over 200,000 square kilometers of territorial water from tuna purse seine boats in 2014. A reduction of tuna licenses sold to foreign fleets (from 43 to 13) in 2017 saved 25 metric tons of marlin bycatch last year. “It is very exciting to be chosen to represent Costa Rica,” said Carlos Cavero, president of FECOP. “We now have an open line of communication with other countries and will join the Americas in a single agency that represent sportfishing interests.” Such as promoting fishing to the U.S. Olympic committee. In the meantime, as fishing waits to be recognized, four Pan American tournaments targeting different species of game fish are scheduled in 2018. A largemouth bass event will be held on Lake Okeechobee, Florida, snook in Tabasco, Mexico, and an offshore tournament at Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Guatemala was also suggested as a possible location for a snook event. Costa Rica will host the 2018 Pan American Assembly next November, followed by a three-day international roosterfish catch, tag and release tournament. Whether or not fishing becomes an Olympic sport is yet to be determined. But keep your hooks sharp and your line fresh, just in case.

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If you’ve ever wondered why scientists are always poking tags into fish, here’s a good story to explain it. It begins with Andy, a tiger shark that was tagged by teams from the Guy Harvey Research Institute and NOVA Southeastern University in Bermuda in 2014. They tagged Andy hoping to learn about his and other tiger shark migrations and travel patterns. Although tags can stop working or break off before scientists would like, Andy’s tag has hung on tight and has been functioning perfectly for almost four years and nearly 40,000 miles. The data shows that he spent most of his time cruising up and down the East Coast and around Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos. “We are delighted with how long Andy has reported data, which has tremendous value for us as researchers,” said Mahmood Shivji, PhD, the director of the GHRI. “This amazing track is revealing clear repeated patterns in the shark’s migrations between summer and winter.” According to a paper published in the recent ICES Journal of Marine Science, Shivji and his colleagues point out that tiger shark migrations are heavily influenced by a shark’s physical characteristics (e.g., size, age) and environmental variations (e.g., water temperature, prey availability). This study reveals not only the environmental factors driving these migrations by tiger sharks, but also highlights how the different age groups behave. With the information gathered from Andy and other tiger sharks, fisheries managers are able to determine how best to protect this near-threatened species. And that’s the overarching goal of tagging—to gather the data needed to make management rules based on accurate science. That’s why more than 150 sharks, including tigers, makos and oceanic whitetips, have been tagged by the GHRI in the last decade. What’s even cooler is that Andy and many other GHRI tagged sharks can be followed online in near real-time at Perhaps Dr. Guy Harvey says it best. “Tracking the migration patterns of sharks, like Andy, for extended periods of time allows us to better understand their behavior and habitat utilization, resulting in better knowledge on how to manage the species.”

Left: A diver films a tiger shark similar to ‘Andy,’ who has traveled more than 37,000 miles. Photo courtesy of Pierson Grant. Below: Photo courtesy of | 17

BOCA Bearings There’s nothing more frustrating than fishing with someone who casts their lure twice as far as yours. It’s downright demoralizing. Even though they may have paid top dollar for equipment that is far better than yours, it’s still hard not to get an inferiority complex. Fortunately, you have the ability to remedy your shortcomings. It might be as simple as changing out the stock bearings in your reel, which is a lot simpler than you’d ever expect. YouTube has a bunch of videos to show you how. The overwhelming choice in fishing reel bearing replacement for the past two decades has been Boca Bearings, a company out of Boynton Beach, Florida. For reasons I’ll explain in a moment, they use ceramic bearings to reduce rolling resistance. And they have a full range of aftermarket fishing reel bearings for brands like Shimano, Daiwa, Penn, Abu Garcia and others. It used to be that fishermen looked for the quietest spinning reel. But, that’s no longer the case because ceramic bearings, which are virtually frictionless, still create a little humming sound. Ceramic bearings are the key to distance and spin. They’re about 70% lighter than steel, yet harder when they’re in ball form and, best of all, they never corrode or rust. If you’re wondering how ball bearings became a standard part of fishing reels, you should know that early bearings were really nothing more than a guide with a rotating component through it. Fishermen had to clean and lubricate those reels a lot because the guides wore out quickly. So over time, reel manufacturers integrated more robust designs to reduce friction, corrosion and wear. What started out as a hobby for Allen Baum, who was selling bearings to kids who raced radio controlled cars, Boca has now grown into a company that offers 8,000 different types of bearings and keeps 10 million bearings in stock. In 2006, the company broke into the fishing market. They brought in pro bass fisherman Jeff Brooks in 2014 to help grow the fishing division. Founder Baum is in the process of passing the the wheel to his son Jason, who is pushing further into the fishing market and is focused heavily on customer service. “We’re constantly trying to improve our company and our products,” Alan said. If that means I can outcast my fishing buddies, sign me up!

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Above: BOCA Bearings owner Jason Baum. Below: A staffer at BOCA Bearings working on the latest products.

Set Your Hook in

South Carolina

Set your Hook in South Carolina

Plan Your Next Fishing Getaway at Photo courtesy of | 19


Death and taxes. Yep, heard that one. Sadly, taxes come every year. Yet, as author Edward Counsel said, “Death aims only once, but never misses.” Or, it has been said that “death is the cure for all diseases.” Good point. Legendary actress Katherine Hepburn claimed, “Death will be a great relief. No more interviews.” And we have to admire the wisdom of British poet Robert Browning. “Shun death,” he said, “that is my advice.” 20 |

Cremated remains are placed within the structures, like the entrance lions and gatekeeper columns, where they are protected from the elements and identified by memorial plaques. Photo courtesy of Neptune Memorial Reef. | 21

Neptune Memorial Reef gives back to the environment by creating a habitat for a variety of living organisms that otherwise would not be present in these waters. These marine organisms range from coral, lobster and sea urchins to barracuda, stingrays and snapper. Photo courtesy of Neptune Memorial Reef.

One thing is certain, the mortuary business is steady. And consistent.

in a picturesque setting below the waves. So far, they have placed the ashes

Which is part of the reason the Neptune Reef Project was born. Jim Hutslar,

of around 500 souls there and are adding about 400 or 500 more spiritual

director of Neptune Memorial Reef, and his fellow Neptuners are helping

beings each year.

people do something meaningful after they move on to that great fishing

The cost to become memorialized in a watery grave? Between $2,000

hole in the sky. Hutslar and his team offer burials at sea on a proposed 16-

to $8,000 depending on the fixings you include. They can just respectfully

acre, man-made reef, which will become the largest of its kind in the world

spread the ashes over the site or you can get the cremated remains mixed in

and the longest man-made barrier reef in Key Biscayne.

with the concrete. You can elect to add a bronze statue, maybe a dolphin or a

For a fee, the Neptune Memorial Reef will sprinkle ashes of the deceased while also building a reef system for the sealife. Turns out the plan isn’t as simple as it sounds. “It took us a year to figure out where to the get the permits,” Hutslar said in a recent interview, “and another three

mermaid replica. The point is, you have

“Cremation is a growing trend,” Hutslar said. “Partly because it’s greener than a traditional burial at the cemetery.”

years to get the actual permits.” Now they are pouring 100 tons of concrete every day to expand the

choices. If that sounds expensive, maybe you haven’t paid for a funeral lately. Matter of fact, according to Hutslar, those prices will soon rise. “Cremation is a growing trend,” Hutslar said. “Partly because it’s greener than a traditional burial at the cemetery.”

And when you think about it, making the jaunt to the Neptune Reef can be a lot more fun than spending your Sunday at the graveyard among rows

artificial reef that not only helps to create vital habitat for the fragile

of tombstones. You can snorkel or scuba dive in crystal-clear, beautiful water,

ecosystem, but also provides sanctuary for Aunt Betty or Grandpa Ricardo

commune with nature and know that you’re in a special place for a lot

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of reasons. As it turns out, the Neptune Memorial Reef is one of the most popular dive sites in Miami. Not just from families of the gone-but-not-forgotten, but with the general diving public as well. It’s only 40 feet to the sandy bottom, and the sweeping concrete arches rise up to a depth of 25, so it’s a stunning place to blow bubbles and enjoy the benefits of weightlessness for an hour or so. In fact, the divers help in other ways, too. “Some of the dive clubs come out and clean the plaques,” Jim said. “They’ll bring wire brushes and scrub them off. We use copper to resist invertebrate growth, and the engraving is deep and wide enough so that it creates a place for white coralline algae. The copper turns a beautiful green patina. It’s a nice contrast to the white lettering.” So sure, the uniqueness of the burial site is undeniable, but just how beneficial is this reef for the ocean environment, really? As with many artificial reefs, it is good. Neptune Reef is located in a marine protected area so there’s no fishing or spearfishing allowed. There’s only sightseeing and the sealife is prolific. As part of the permitting process, they were required to design it to accommodate small fish and invertebrates, as well as large animals. “Our last survey results showed more than 80 species,” Hutslar said. “And we’re even starting to see sharks there on a regular basis.” Local marine biologists are now using the reef as a home base to study myriad aspects of how artificial reefs work. They even found one species of sea urchin they thought was extinct. So, as they say, from death comes life.

Top right: An exclusive placement, the centerpiece is surrounded by the welcome feature columns and canopy. Middle right: A memorial copper plaque with the name of the deceased and life dates is placed on the reef feature. Bottom right: A certified scuba diver visits the reef during deployment. | 23

The beautiful and protected mooring field near the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park headquarters on Warderick Wells. Photo by Colin Ruggiero.

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The birth of conservation in The Bahamas BY ERIC CAREY | 25

Aerial view of the southern end of Warderick Wells, White Bay and Pirate’s Lair in the ECLSP. Photo by Colin Ruggiero.


he Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is a unique organization created by a

Influential government leaders supported this initiative but realized there

historic act of Parliament in 1959 to protect natural places and conserve

was no chance of a small country like The Bahamas (population 109,000 in

natural resources in The Bahamas.

1960) dedicating sufficient public resources to make it work. There was also the

As a non-governmental, non-profit membership organization, it relies on

fact that the entire marine territory of The Bahamas is owned and controlled

donations, including a government grant, to protect our natural resources by

by the government. And about 70% of the land area (including wetlands and

building a network of national parks and promoting environmental stewardship.

undeveloped pine forest) was ungranted Crown land.

Were it not for a series of serendipitous events decades ago, many of the most

So they crafted an entity that had significant input from—but was not under

precious natural resources in The Bahamas might have been lost forever.

the control of—government. They did this through legislation that made the BNT

One of those events was an effort by conservationists and marine scientists

a unique statutory organization with full access to the scientific and private

to protect a large section of the Exuma Cays, which was at the point of

donor world.

being acquired by private interests for possible development. This led to the

The BNT’s 29-member governing council includes 14 seats for prestigious

establishment of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP), the first national

conservation and scientific institutions (like the US National Park Service, the

park in The Bahamas, and the first land and sea park in the world. The birthplace of

American Museum of Natural History, National Audubon Society and the

conservation in The Bahamas.

University of Miami, as well as representative Bahamian government agencies).

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However, The majority of Council representatives (15) are elected by the BNT membership. In other words, the BNT can hold title and has full statutory authority to carry out its conservation mandate. But as a non-governmental organization, it can

Improving public access to the national parks is one of the BNT’s top concerns. This requires considerable investment in research, planning and infrastructure development. The infrastructure needs of a national park can range from roads, bridges,

also benefit from a local and international membership, and can leverage private

boardwalks, observation towers, and trails to interpretive signage and visitor

donations as well as scientific grants.

facilities. There are also the human resources needed to manage public access to

Today, the BNT manages 32 national parks that encompass over two million acres of tropical biodiversity. National parks in The Bahamas have historically

the parks. Currently, the BNT is working with Bahamas-based and international partners

been identified and created to address conservation needs and environmental

to develop comprehensive management plans for every park and reserve in the

concerns. Today, as a society, we are beginning to understand and renew our

network. A key part of this is to encourage local community buy-in and ownership

understanding that open space and the natural world are critical to our health

of the parks.

and well-being as a species.

Black grouper, often called rockfish in The Bahamas, are big, cool-looking and tasty. Unfortunately, like virtually every fish that people eat, they are now in real danger and are on the IUCN Red List as a near-threatened species. Grouper spawn in huge aggregations that make them very vulnerable to overfishing once these spawning locations are recorded. Photo by Colin Ruggiero | 27

The History of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park BY LYNN GAPE

28 |


he initiative for setting aside islands in the the Exumas for conservation began with Colonel Ilia Tolstoy, grandson of Leo Tolstoy, who had first visited The Bahamas in 1931. In 1953, he began a discussion of establishing Bahamian-protected areas with Richard Pough of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and founder of the Nature Conservancy. This began a dialog that crossed the Atlantic to the director of Great Britain’s Nature Conservancy, then back to the Right Honorable Earl of Ranfurly, governor of The Bahamas, and the Honorable K.M. Walmsley, colonial secretary. Finally, in Ilia’s own words, “It was indeed a memorable day when on February 13, 1956, I received a letter from the governor of The Bahamas confirming that the Crown had set aside approximately 22 miles of the Exuma Cays from Shroud Cay to Little Bell Island…for one year.” During that time, an organization would undertake exploring the possibility of a protected area and providing concrete recommendations and justifications to The Bahamian government as to why the area should be permanently protected for conservation.

Ilia Tolstoy, Oris Russell of Bahamas Dept. of Agriculture, Donald Squires of American Museum, Hon. Herbert McKinney and Robert Allen , VP of research at the National Audubon traveling through a tidal wetland at low tide. Photo courtesy of Bahamas National Trust. | 29

Concurrently, awareness of the depletion of marine resources and the need for marine parks was growing throughout the world. Only a few marine parks existed prior to the 1960s, one being the Ft. Jefferson National Monument in the Florida Keys. In 1954, at the urging of the dive community, Don McCarthy of the Bahamas Development Board convinced the board to release a story endorsing the marine park concept. News of this reached Richard Pough who suggested to Tolstoy that the Exuma area designated by the Crown be expanded to a land and sea park. Fairfield Osborn, president of the New York Zoological Society (now Wildlife Conservation Society), agreed that the Conservation Foundation would sponsor the required survey and the Exuma Cays Project was born. Funds were quickly raised and the scientific team for the required survey was appointed. Representing The Bahamas were the Honorable Herbert McKinney and Director Oris Russell of the Bahamas Department of Agriculture and Marine Products. Others included: Ornithologist Robert P. Allen of the National Audubon Society; Superintendent Daniel Beard of the Everglades National Park; John O’Reilly of Sports Illustrated; ichthyologist Dr. John Randall of the University of Miami; coral scientist Dr. Donald Squires of the American Museum of Natural History; and photographer Russ Kinne of New York. Co-leaders of the team were Ilia Tolstoy and Dr. Carleton Ray of the New York Zoological Society. The survey lasted from January 22–28, 1958. The team’s report followed in only a few weeks, concluding that the area had “outstanding natural values.” In the words of project team member Daniel Beard, superintendent of the Everglades National Park: “There is a considerable degree of unity to the proposed area. It embraces all the territory, both land and sea, that is required for effective administration and continuing representation of its biological and geological resources. This is of the utmost importance in a biological park, of course, because failure to include an adequate biological ‘unit’ can negate the whole project.” Members of the expedition exploring Hawksbill Cay. Photo courtesy of Bahamas National Trust.

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The report’s conclusion also laid a visionary foundation for the future: “The Exuma Cays Park under consideration should be regarded as only the beginning of a conservation movement that is vital to The Bahamas as a whole. It will also be a beginning of a new concept, integrated land-and-sea conservation,

the Bahamas National Trust Act did not take away the inalienable rights of private

in which The Bahamas will take the lead and show the way to other nations

landholders in the ECLSP, as enshrined within the Constitution of The Bahamas.

throughout the world.” However, the report of the Exuma survey team was only the first step.

The current high real estate value of these in-holdings makes it cost prohibitive for outright purchase by the BNT. Thus, the BNT must maintain close, professional and

Methods for choosing the best locations for parks and protected areas in The

cooperative relationships with landowners within the park in hopes of encouraging

Bahamas remained to be developed by future scientists and managers, and

activities that are compatible with the objectives of the park. Simultaneously, the BNT

mechanisms for park management required a new Bahamian law. Consequently,

will always maintain as a long-term goal the development of the financial resources

the Honorable Godfrey Higgs followed the model of the 1909 British National

and support needed to acquire existing private lands when they become available.

Trust Act. Its passage on July 13, 1959, allowed the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP) to become an incipient reality, pending only an official lease from the Crown. It was not until March 5, 1964, that a 99-year lease awarded to the BNT

Carleton Ray and Oris Russell examining a native orchid.

made the park official.

Photo courtesy of Bahamas National Trust.

The lease was signed by BNT President William Wikoff Smith and VicePresident J. Andrew McKinney, and witnessed by Godfrey Higgs. Under the wording of the lease, all of the enclosed area that had been suggested by the report survey is included under Bahamas National Trust jurisdiction, but in actuality, some of the islands remain to this day as private in-holdings.* Today, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a conservation success story. Initially, park bylaws allowed each boat a daily fishery catch quota. In 1986, recognizing unsustainable pressures on fish, lobster and conch populations, as well as coral reefs, the BNT declared the entire 176-square-mile park a no-take fisheries replenishment area, or fishery reserve—a first for the wider Caribbean. Scientists and managers now promote such areas as among the best ways to sustain fishery resources. Despite many challenges and the need for detailed planning and action, today, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is a conservation success story as a functional marine reserve. Scientists have documented that not only are the marine resources of the Exumas being enriched, but also that the park serves to replenish areas as far away as South Long Island, almost 150 miles away. The ECLSP is also an important factor in the economy of the Exuma Cays, providing direct benefits through the increased tourism that it attracts.

*Private landholdings in the park (taken from the ECLSP Management Plan). Within the boundaries of the ECLSP, approximately 68% of the land area is Bahamas National Trust property. When the park was founded in 1958, there were existing landowners whose rights and privileges were protected under statute law in The Bahamas. Development on private land is controlled through permits issued by the central government and local government authority. They advocate stricter zoning laws of private lands both within and adjacent to national parks. The enactment of | 31

A storm cell passes over Warderick Wells where

the delicate balance of protection

the ECLSP headquarters are located. This is a single frame from a timelapse that is the final shot of the upcoming short film about the ECLSP. Photo by Colin Ruggiero


Anyone who has spent a lot of time on the water or underwater will tell stories of how things used to be and how things have changed. Nowhere has this change occurred more than on our coral reefs. Over the past several decades, we have seen fewer

A recent scientific expedition to monitor the

healthy resident population of Caribbean reef

and fewer big fish, with some species nearly absent

state of coral reefs, fish and other marine life in the

sharks and attracts widely ranging species like great

from reefs, and a rapidly accelerating decline in the

ECLSP has shown that reefs there are among the

hammerheads. Lower down on the food chain, the

amount of coral on reefs. While we may expect this

healthiest in The Bahamas. Because the entire area

high biomass of grazing herbivores like stoplight

in areas that have been built up over this time, even

is a sanctuary for fish, populations of many species

parrotfish and queen parrotfish reduce the amount

less developed places like The Bahamas have seen

targeted by fishers elsewhere thrive in the park.

of seaweed on reefs. This grazing is critical for the

declines in many places, but there are a few places

Species considered to be endangered, like the Nassau

growth and survival of corals.

that remind us of what coral reefs used to be like.

grouper, are not only common in the park, but the

Because the protection afforded by the park can’t

Protected by the Bahamas National Trust since

abundance of resident large adult Nassau grouper

reduce high sea temperatures, the spread of disease,

1959, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP)

there is greater there than elsewhere in The Bahamas

and other regional or global issues facing corals, the

provides a look back at how coral reefs once were

and just about anywhere else in the Caribbean. In

corals within the park face many of the same threats

and a glimmer of hope for the future. Seen from the

fact, Nassau grouper from the Exuma Cays Land

of unprotected areas, and data collected since the

surface, the waters of the park are enchanting, with

and Sea Park may account for approximately 25%

1990s show a significant decline over at least the

more shades of blue than Crayola offers. The real

of spawning fish in the Exuma Sound region and

past 20 years. But, by maintaining health populations

magic, however, is under the water where vibrant

contribute to fished stocks in other areas. Other

of grazing parrotfish, reefs in the park have less

reefs teem with life. Over 50 years of protection as

species like snapper, grunts and parrotfish also

seaweed than many other areas, giving young corals

a marine park, with the last 31 as a fully protected

abound on reefs within the park.

a chance to survive and help the reef recover from

area where fishing and other extractive activities is

Healthy populations of reef fish have implications

mass die-offs experienced by reefs throughout the

banned, has allowed marine life

that ripple throughout the food chain. The

Caribbean. In addition, the abundance of predatory

to flourish.

abundance of reef fish in the park supports a

fish like snapper and grouper in the park may

32 |

limit populations of species that harm corals, like

over 85–150 miles away where they are still fished

three-spot damselfish and several invertebrates. The

illegally, in spite of a closed season. Studies have also

resilience of reefs in the park has resulted in coral

shown that even as large as the Exuma Cays Land and

reefs in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park having

Sea Park is (over 272 square miles), populations of

approximately two times the amount of live coral

many species depend on replenishment from areas

cover as other reefs in The Bahamas, on average.

outside the park, where they have been depleted.

population is likely due to the dependence of larvae

Genetic studies by a Bahamian PhD student, Krista

coming in from outside the park to replenish and

populations of key species and preserving the

Sherman, show that roughly half of the Nassau

reinvigorate the queen conch stocks there.

health of coral reef ecosystems is a testament to

grouper from the Exuma Cays come from elsewhere

the foresight of its founders who recommended

in The Bahamas.

The success of the ECLSP for protecting

protecting an entire landscape, including islands,

Populations of another iconic Bahamian species,

The case of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park highlights the ability of a large and well-managed marine park to not just preserve the beauty of an

nearshore habitats, like mangroves and seagrass

the queen conch, are also dependent upon

area, but also provide critical protection to marine life

beds that serve as nursery areas for many species,

replenishment from outside the park. Studies have

to maintain the delicate balance and health of coral

inshore and offshore reefs, and deep-sea areas. In

shown that the park harbor’s densities of queen

reefs and other marine ecosystems. It also shows how

doing so, they recognized how all of these areas are

conch are roughly more than 10 times that of nearby

no park is an island and how outside factors, whether

connected and how effective conservation includes

areas outside the park, and it is one of the few places

they be increasing sea temperatures or unsustainable

protecting intact ecosystems rather than small

where there is a reproductive conch population in

fishing, can affect the ability of the park to safeguard

pieces. In the 1980s, the idea of ecosystem protection

The Bahamas. These studies also show, however, that

the species and habitats within it. The Bahamas is

was advanced further by making the park a refuge

queen conch densities in the park have declined by

currently addressing these issues by expanding its

for marine life where any removal of marine life or

35% in less than 20 years and that the reproductive

system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to build a

other resources was prohibited. Active management

output for conch in the park has also decreased.

network of MPAs that will replenish each other and

of users by the Bahamas National Park, including

This is primarily due to an aging conch population,

surrounding areas with open access to sustainably

patrols of the park and installation of moorings

with many conch past their peak reproductive

protect marine ecosystems and key species

for visitors to prevent damage from anchoring in

period, and fewer younger adults entering the

within them.

sensitive areas, has further promoted conservation of

breeding population. The shift to an older, senescent

the park, resulting in the healthy reefs and marine life that we see today. The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is not without its threats, however; illegal poaching remains an issue in some parts of the park, as does the development of some private landholdings within the park, since even small-scale development may have impacts on the delicate balance of ecosystems within the park. As the wonders of the park attract more visitors, balancing ecosystem protection with visitor use is also a challenge. Recent scientific studies have also shown that even with the large size and effective management of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, unsustainable fishing and other outside influences still affect marine life within the park. While endangered Nassau grouper are still far more abundant in the park than elsewhere in The Bahamas, and indeed most of the Caribbean, large adults leave the park for two weeks or more

A gray angelfish swims among the coral of Jeep Reef in the ECLSP.

during spawning seasons in aggregations located

Photo courtesy of Craig Dahlgren, Perry Institute for Marine Science. | 33

The Complex Future of Marine Parks BY CAPTAIN


Pirate’s Lair. This lagoon offered protection from the weather and access to a natural freshwater spring and was a favorite anchorage for pirates. In the lower right, you can see stromatolites under the water. These rock-like structures are formed very slowly by microorganisms and are one of the oldest and rarest forms of life on earth. Photo by Colin Ruggiero


hether we call them national parks, reserves or Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), a big question in the ocean conservation world is: How do we pay for all these treasures of nature? Do we turn to

so that the park will be sustainable within nature and the community. The funding mechanism the BNT designed is based on “tax deductible gifts” from those who use the park—anyone from boat charters to marine researchers.

governments, the public, private funding or world organizations? The Bahamas

Because of the park’s pristine beauty and diversity of life, it’s extremely popular

National Trust‘s answer to fund successful MPAs and national parks is to design

with scientists, researchers, filmmakers, NGOs, cruising yachts, charter boats and

and operate them like any other successful business venture by factoring in

others who take advantage of the sweet surroundings. All of these user groups

financial sustainability from the beginning. The BNT is doing just this as they

have fee structures that directly support the Marine Protected Area and national

redevelop the infrastructure and operations of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

park maintenance and operations. This systems works well as a sort of pay-to-play

34 |

business model. Another question the folks in The

Keeping true to our “sustainable architecture”

Bahamas are asking is if the Exuma Cay Land and Sea

concept of operations and to help create local jobs,

Park funding architecture may provide a template for

the BNT is working with local architects and builders,

other protected areas to emulate.

as well as international teams, to harness electricity

Early this year, the BNT hired me as the the new

from wind, solar and even wave action. Using

park administrator. My wife Nicola was also brought

advanced technologies in sustainable energy and

in as a part-time administrative assistant. As you can

building standards, we’re also establishing national

imagine, it’s a dream job for us, even though it comes

programs around education and enforcement

with tremendous accountability. I am responsible


for overall supervision and oversight of all activities

While the vision is to power all of the parks with

that occur in the park. Nicola makes sure everything

renewable energy, these days, we still require backup

is well organized and keeps me in check, which is a

wattage. The BNT has committed to constructing

full-time job in itself.

a new workshop building while installing a new

Having worked in the yacht industry for 40

45kw generator, which are both possible thanks

years, I come to the BNT as a committed marine

to a generous donation from Teresa and Gregory

conservationist. A few years ago, Nicola and

Pentek (deceased) from Tierra Verde, Florida.

I founded Ocean Crest Alliance (OCA), a non-

Some of those funds are also being used to build

profit organization working in marine and land

a staging platform on Warderick Wells Cay for the

conservation in The Bahamas and Florida. Nicola left

complete transformation of that island. We will be

the banking industry after 17 years to take over as a

replacing older systems and installing new ones

director of OCA.

to accommodate today’s requirements for park

It’s easy for us to believe deeply in the BNT’s mission and the importance of this park as The

operations. Another major issue we face within our national

Bahamas’ first Marine No-Take Reserve. In fact, when

parks is how to monitor and stop illegal fishing over

it was founded in 1958, it was the first park to receive

such a vast region. Fortunately, technology can help

Marine Reserve status in The Bahamas and the wider

with that as well. Currently, the BNT is developing a

Caribbean. Now, some 60 years later, one of our key

UAS (Unmanned Aerial Surveillance) system to aid in

goals is to elevate the ECLSP into a model not just for

the reduction of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported

The Bahamas but for the entire region.

(IUU) fishing and other illegal activities that occur

We’re fortunate that Eric Carey, BNT executive

within the park’s 176-square-mile boundaries. These

director, and his team are committed to the park

actions play a vital role in ensuring the success of this

system in The Bahamas and that they understand

delicate ecosystem.

the unique importance of the park. “This is one of

The future of marine parks is firmly planted in

our most highly visited parks,” Carey said, “and we

technology, sustainability and renewable energy.

are in the process of upgrading the park facilities,

As we follow that path in the Exuma Cays Land and

implementing new technology to help with

Sea Park, we’re already bringing greater attention to

enforcement and initiating some exciting new

the vital work the BNT is accomplishing in this park


as well as all of our 32 national parks and more than

We feel that Joe and Nicola bring an exciting new

two million acres. The BNT’s proactive approach is

energy and important skills to assist in making this

already setting global standards, and Nicola and I are

national park in The Bahamas a true model for marine

honored to be a part of the movement here at the

parks across the region.”

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

Want to make a film in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park? If you’re a filmmaker or a research scientist or just a sailor looking for a far-flung, pristine slice of nature, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park may be the destination for you. The staff there welcomes you by helping to provide logistical needs, communication and media requirements, lodging, workshop areas, equipment, vessels, storage and whatever support you may need. This includes advanced technologies in equipment and vessel operations, a local workforce, local materials, and most importantly, local knowledge. This proactive push to attract user groups is a key element in the funding mechanism to sustain the park. Therefore, your only requirement, besides showing up and enjoying one of the most stunning places on the planet, is to contribute a taxdeductible gift to the national park fund, which directly supports the park maintenance and operations. These gifts are based on many factors, including services needed and time spent on location. For more information, contact an official at the Bahamas National Trust. | 35

An adult Iguana sunning on the shore of

Wildlife in the exuma cays

the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Photo by Lorraine Minns.


Iguanas The Exuma Island iguana is a species of C. Cychlura. The sub-species is known from seven small cays scattered throughout the central and southern Exuma

tourists—contributes to alarming digestive problems, nutritional deficiencies and elevated cholesterol levels. So please do not feed the iguanas!


Island chain. The Exuma Island iguana utilizes a variety of habitats, including sandy

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park contains a variety of uninhabited cays and

beaches, xeric limestone devoid of vegetation and areas of vegetation. Limestone

rocks that support many seabird species of conservation concern. These include

crevices and sand burrows are used as retreats at night and during severe weather

Audubon shearwaters and several species of endangered or threatened terns.

conditions. Adult iguanas are herbivores and are arboreal as well as terrestrial feeders.

The Audubon shearwater is a Western Atlantic endemic with a known total population of 3,000 to 5,000 pairs. Half of these nest in The Bahamas with one-

Preferred food items are seasonally dependent and primarily consist of the

fifth of the remaining population nesting on Long Cay, just north of Warderick

flowers, fruits and leaves of darling plum, Joe wood, black torch, sea grape, bay

Wells; smaller populations can be found on Noddy, Little Cistern, Rocky Dundas

cedar and silver thatch palm. Recent research by Dr. Chuck Knapp of the Shedd

and Osprey Cays. The shearwaters nest in holes, crevices, caves and limestone

Aquarium, who has been studying the iguanas for more that 20 years, indicates

sinkholes. The white-tailed tropicbird is also a Western Atlantic endemic

that feeding the iguanas an unnatural diet—junk food offered by well-meaning

subspecies with an approximate population of less than 4,000 pairs. There are

36 |

nesting colonies on the east side of Warderick Wells Cay, Shroud Cay and, to a

are concerned that the hutia’s uncontrolled population growth will result in

lesser extent, on Little Bell Island. Additionally, all of the breeding terns of The

extensive destruction to the environment. BNT is monitoring the situation and

Bahamas have been identified within the park, including the gull-billed, roseate,

has established a special task force to review the hutia situation and develop

sooty, bridled, least and royal tern. Pelicans, cormorants and frigatebirds are also

recommendations to address this management dilemma.

present within the park but are not known to nest.

The Hutia: An endangered species with a big appetite

Cultural resources Within the boundaries of the park are two significant sets of Loyalist ruins dating back to the late 1700s. These ruins document a significant period in Bahamian history. On Warderick Wells, the ruins of the Davis Family plantation are

The endemic Bahamas hutia is the only native terrestrial mammal in The

located on the southeast side of the island. The remains are comprised of three

Bahamas. It is a nocturnal rodent about the size of a cat. Hutias were thought to

buildings of conch shell, rock and mortar construction, and a stone wall that runs

be extinct in The Bahamas until a small population was discovered in 1966 on East

from one side of the island to the other. This wall was used to contain livestock. On

Plana Cay in the Southern Bahamas. In an effort to prevent the population from

Hawksbill Cay is another set of ruins with the remains of five buildings and some

being wiped out by natural or unnatural threats, hutias were introduced to two

smaller cooking areas.

cays in the ECLSP. In January 1973, 11 hutias were introduced onto Little Wax Cay

On the southern border of the park is a pair of small cays called “The Rocky

in the north of the park. Warderick Wells was the site of the second translocation

Dundas.” On the small, flat and protected area on the southern Rocky Dundas is

in March 1981, when several hutias were placed there.

a fence constructed of conch shell middens. An archaeological expedition to the

The hutia on Little Wax Cay had a destructive effect on the vegetation on the cay. Hutias are voracious herbivores with destructive feeding practices. In April 1989, a team of scientists visited Little Wax Cay to assess the effect of hutias

island sampled a small portion from the bottom of this fence and dated it back approximately 500 years. The continued and careful monitoring of wildlife populations is an aspect

feeding on the cay. Following their visit, the team recorded that the vegetation

of park management requiring continued and sustained support. Without

there had been massively effected. Large areas were bald without a closed canopy

structured monitoring of endangered iguana and seabird populations, adaptive

and many of the trees and shrubs had recently died.

management decisions cannot be made for the benefit of the wildlife that the

Warderick Wells has begun to show vegetative damage and park staff

park protects.

Left: A white-tailed tropicbird (locally called a ‘longtail’) nests in a limestone crevice. The white-tailed tropicbird does not have a yearly breeding cycle; instead, breeding frequency depends on the climate and availability of suitable breeding sites. Photo by William Mackin. | 37

38 |

There are 32 parks in the Bahamas National Park System encompassing over two million acres of beauty. With some of the most incredible snorkeling, diving and fishing in the world— and breathtaking land and seascapes—these parks are managed by the Bahamas National Trust, a unique organization created in 1959 to protect and conserve the greatest natural resources in the island nation.

Above: A starfish, or sea star, in the shallow waters of the Exumas. Tourists are advised to keep their selfie-desires in check and admire them in the water, as removing them can easily cause damage. Photo by Colin Ruggiero. | 39



Looking out across endless blues and whites of the Exuma Cays can inspire a lot of things, including the art of cooking. Chef Corrie Smith, manager of the Xuma Restaurant and Bar on Highbourne Cay, uses his food, not the amazing views, to inspire his guests. Known for his imaginative and innovative dishes, the chef’s culinary style features a broad array of palate pleasers like grilled mahi-mahi with sweet potato croquette. He began his dreams of becoming a professional chef by earning a degree in applied science in culinary arts and then went on to pursue a Bachelors of Science in Hotel Management at the University of the West Indies.

His experience in the kitchen has yielded a unique cooking style, merging Mediterranean and modern techniques into the Bahamian way of cooking. At

Chef Corrie Smith | Xuma Restaurant

rental cottages, a fully stocked grocery store and a fuel dock. Highbourne Cay is just 35 miles southeast of New Providence, which houses

Xuma Restaurant, Chef Corrie takes advantage of fresh produce and a daily

the city of Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas. The Exumas extend nearly 100

harvest of seafood options such as conch, crawfish, grouper, lionfish, wahoo and

miles and are considered one of the crown jewels of The Bahamas. The pristine

mahi-mahi. Of course, each dish at the five-star restaurant is exquisitely plated

beauty, outstanding anchorages and unspoiled marine environment is world

and paired with appropriate wines from a wide selection.

renowned for diving and as a fishing spot for boaters.

Chef Corrie’s top-notch reputation has brought in many celebrities and world-

A popular seafood dish at Xuma Restaurant includes: lobster spring roll (see

class chefs to Highbourne Cay, known as the gateway to the Exuma Cays. The

recipe below), lionfish ceviche, and grilled mahi-mahi with sweet potato croquette

Island itself, less than three miles long from tip to tip and only a quarter-mile wide,

and seasonal veggies. Pairs well with Bonney’s Revenge Riesling 2014.

is still loaded with amenities for kids of all ages, including a 37-slip marina, eight

40 |

Lobster Spring Rolls Serves 4

Ingredients 2 (1½ lb) lobsters 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1/2 lb cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups) 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about 1¼ cups) 1/2 cup diagonally sliced green onions 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves 1 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon water 16 spring roll wrappers

Preparation Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan over high heat just until smoking. Add the

Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

garlic and stir-fry for one minute, until fragrant. Add the diced lobster meat and

Fill a pan or deep pot halfway with oil and heat to 360° F. Using a slotted

cook for one minute, or until partially cooked. Turn the heat low under the frying

spoon, drop the spring rolls, one by one, into the pot. Be careful to not overcrowd

pan and add the cabbage, carrots, green onions and cilantro, tossing until wilted.

the pan. Fry until golden brown, about two minutes. Remove and drain on a paper

Season with salt and pepper. Spread the lobster mixture onto a small baking sheet

towel-lined platter.

and chill for 30 minutes. Place filling mixture in a fine-meshed sieve and drain off any excess liquid. Set aside.

Once the spring rolls have cooled slightly, cut them in half on the diagonal and serve warm.

Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl. Set aside. Place a spring roll wrapper on a clean work surface; keep remaining wrappers covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Place 1/4 cup of the lobster mixture on each wrapper and fold in each side. Paint the edges with the egg wash and roll up tightly. Use additional egg wash to seal the wrapper closed, if needed. Set aside and cover. | 41

42 | | 43

a photo portfolio

44 |

Mobula rays and jacks try to capitalize on the krill left by whales feeding nearby. | 45

Above: The remaining daylight not long after sunset lends a soft and more colorful look to the appearance of the Milky Way from a small cay in the ECLSP.

Left: A freediver and Caribbean reef shark at Danger Reef in the ECLSP. The site is named for the sharp rocks that present a navigation hazard to vessels rather than for the sharks in the area. There is perhaps nowhere you can go jump in the water and more immediately see the glory of the ECLSP than Danger Reef.

46 |

Right: Humpbacks feeding on krill in the nutrient-rich waters of the Sea of Cortez.

Below: At 8 am there is still some lightning over the ocean from the tail end of an overnight thunderstorm on Staniel Cay in the Exumas. | 47

48 |

Above: A queen conch (Lobatus gigas) grazes on plants in the ECLSP. Left: Snorkelers in the Bay of La Paz look on from the boat as a juvenile whale shark passes close by. Below: A lone, striped marlin investigates my camera in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, Mexico. | 49

Above: A sea lion (or sea wolf, as they are known in Mexico) displays his acrobatic prowess at Los Islotes in the southern Sea of Cortez. Top right: Sunset from Osprey Cay in the ECLSP. This is a single frame from a timelapse in the film that is one of the most amazing timelapses I’ve ever shot, going from intense sunset to lightning to clearing skies and the Milky Way. Bottom right: This aging sperm whale skeleton on the beach at Warderick Wells is the iconic sight that greets visitors to the ECLSP.

50 | | 51

Above: A greenhouse frog drawn into the open by passing rains in the Exuma Cays. Right: Storm over the mooring field near the park headquarters. Moorings prevent the repeated tearing up of the sea bed caused by anchoring, and also provide and safe and secure way for boaters to pass the night. But most importantly, the modest mooring fees form a large part of the park’s operating budget and enable the park to continue functioning and protecting this amazing ecosystem. Bottom right: Light from one of the holes in the ceiling of the insanely awesome Thunderball Grotto in the Exumas.

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Above: Virtually every afternoon in the Exumas, rising columns of warm air build massive cumulous clouds. It’s like an enormous mountain range that changes every day. Left: Schooling fusiliers just beneath the surface during a torrential rain storm in Raja Ampat, West Papua. Below: The now famous swimming pigs of The Bahamas. Enough said. | 55

SWIMMING WITH WHALES By Colin Ruggiero Swimming with whales is always such an incredible experience. One time, when I was headed to a nearby island in the southern Sea of Cortez, we noticed that there was a tremendous amount of feeding activity happening and there were lots of whales in the area. I haven’t had a lot of luck just coming up on whales in the boat and jumping in to swim with them in areas where they’re not accustomed to people: and I can’t say that I recommend people do that—for the whale’s safety or their own—but I jumped in just to get a sense of what was happening. Following feeding action like that with a boat always leaves you two steps behind, and so I just got in the water and had the boat back off and leave me there to see what might come around. There was so much activity in the area, and it wouldn’t be long before I saw birds headed my way. Under the surface, the first thing I would usually see was a big school of jacks leading the charge. Right behind them would come the mobula rays, and when that happened, I knew there was likely a whale nearby as well. It was difficult because you’re swimming hard to try to follow or just get a little closer to the animals and so you’re always out of breath and it’s hard to dive very deep. The water is absolutely full of krill and when you look into the light, the backlit krill are like a wall and you can’t see anything at all. When you look down the light rays are just dizzying in the deep water and it’s hard not to get a sense of vertigo bobbing around out there. At one point an open-mouth humpback emerged out of nowhere. It saw me and slapped its tail in a sharp turn, veering away from me. I figured that I had startled it, but I turned around, and out of the light rays emerged an adult fin whale and her calf just moving through like a train about 30 feet below me. Just so special. Eventually though, I realized that it wasn’t a great idea to be a slow, awkward monkey floating around in all of that commotion like that. All of the other creatures could easily get out of the way of the feeding whales and there was too much motion in the water and bubbles and fish scales and krill and light for the whales or I to really keep track of each other. So I got out and flew my drone and got some amazing aerial images as well.

A gray whale rolls onto its side for a better look. It’s hard to deny the recognition taking place in another intelligent animal when a whale looks at you from this distance.

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s the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Back in the old days, the only fishermen who made noise came from the commercial fishing sector. Sportfishermen had no voice because we were just a bunch of happy-go-lucky anglers scattered about the nation enjoying a bountiful catch. Recreational anglers were not organized because we did not have to be. There was little reason to squeak. However, in the past few decades, as pressure on the fishery has increased the sportfishing community has come together. We have asserted ourselves with lawmakers and have simply asked to be treated equally. Today, the most influential voice for our fishing community is from the American Sportfishing Association. The ASA, and other vital groups have been able to get the message out to lawmakers that sportfishing has a massive impact on the American economy. We create millions of jobs from the local marina dockhand up to the CEO of Viking Yachts. Boat sales, gear sales, charter boats, fishing travel and even this magazine, all add up billions of dollars to fuel a massive economic engine. And that engine is running on high test. In the following pages, we examine several of the most pressing issues facing our angling community and the efforts organizations like ASA have undertaken, such as trying to build the fishing population to 60 million anglers in the next 60 months, and helping to navigate the treacherous clashes between state and federal fishing laws and lawmakers. It would be awesome if we didn’t need the groups like the ASA. That is, if our elected officials actually went to the capital to serve the best interest of the people who elected them. Unfortunately, that reality does not always exist. At least not in this solar system. Thankfully, we have advocacy groups who have learned how to squeak quite loudly and where we need the grease. | 59



ave you ever thought long and hard about your experience crossing a state line? Probably not. You drive down the highway and there is no dotted line indicating the border and no welcome party to greet you. You first pass an insignificant sign that matter-of-factly states that you’re leaving one state and entering another. But then, just a few yards down the road, is a billboard-sized announcement that you’ve arrived, complete with everything from state slogans to the current governor. “Welcome to Georgia. The state of adventure!” It makes you want to stop at the next farm stand to pick up a basket of fresh peaches. And you might notice some differences as you progress into new territory. The maximum speed limit may reduce from 65 to 55 miles per hour. The roads may be

bet. But an often-overlooked ideology is that “recreational angler” equals “partner.” Most American anglers would agree: freshwater fisheries management has

riddled with potholes one minute, then be newly paved with freshly painted lines

largely been figured out. Without a doubt, there are still several challenges to

the next minute. There might even be more speed traps. It’s pretty obvious where

conservation and access that are unlikely to change anytime soon, but from a

the tax dollars are being spent.

purely management standpoint, state fish and wildlife agencies are working hard

There’s a second type of state boundary. This one is also invisible, but is only crossable by watercraft. It’s the line several miles off a coastal state’s shores. When you cross over the line, you either head into another state’s waters or into the vast ocean territory surrounding our country that is federally managed.

to ensure resident and visiting anglers have reasonable access to healthy fish stocks. And, in general, the federal government is not involved. This is where the money comes in. States and the recreation community have a symbiotic relationship, due in part to the agencies’ funding model. Most, if not

Most people wouldn’t notice. Unlike our highway system, there’s no signal out

all, of their fisheries management budgets come directly from anglers. It’s doled

on the open ocean that you’re navigating from waters regulated by states to those

out from a collection of funds made up from fishing license fees and excise taxes

managed by the federal government. There’s no sign announcing your arrival,

on fishing equipment and motor boat fuel. That fund totals about $1.7 billion

no welcome message, nor anything enticing you to stay. You simply keep on

per year.

boating. But if you’re a recreational fisherman on that boat, there are often major differences in the can and can’t do’s on one side of that line versus the other.

Let’s say that again. A total of 1.7 billion per

A World Apart There’s a philosophy chasm between state and federal management of our marine fisheries. Does it involve money? Absolutely. Is conservation a factor? You

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year is collected from sport fishermen—us— which is spent on fishery management.

But the relationship between state agencies and the recreational fishing

protecting U.S. waters from extreme harvest by foreign commercial fishing fleets.

community is far from just a dollars and cents transaction. Agencies, in both the

Two decades later, because many marine stocks were still declining, the law was

fresh and saltwater areas they manage, see anglers as part of the conservation

amended with provisions to end overfishing by our own commercial industry. This

solution. They solicit public input on management decisions and work with their

became the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

communities to ensure anglers are satisfied with their experiences on the water.

(MSA). Once again, a turning point in the marine management strategy that was

Similar close connections exist with many of the federal land management agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the

mandated by the federal government and has had lasting benefits. The first time the federal government started paying attention to commercial

Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. These agencies

activity in our oceans was in 1871, when President Ulysses S. Grant established

welcome millions of visitors every year onto the public lands they are the stewards

the U.S. Fish Commission. For the first time, they were to report to and advise

of, many of whom are casting a line. Do we have occasional disagreements over

Congress on what harvest activities were taking place and if protection of the

management decisions? Sure. But in general, these agencies view recreational

resource was needed.

anglers as contributors to their conservation agenda, even though their federal budgets are not fueled by direct funding from in-state fishing expenditures. The third management system recreational anglers contend with is when they

Through the years, with the continued morphing of the agency, the focus remained on commercial activity. Up through the 1970s, it was even called the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. Many anglers today still hold the perception

cross that invisible line from state to federally managed marine fisheries, which,

that the NMFS only understands and cares about commercial fishing, and a

for most parts of the country, extend from three to 200 miles offshore. However,

new authorization of MSA would help address the challenges of a constrained

in the Gulf of Mexico, all five states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana

management approach (see article on page 62).

and Texas—have pushed state waters out to nine miles. The federal waters are

Access to outdoor recreational activity is a priority to many Americans, and

managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the auspices

fishing access is no exception. Advances in technology in gear and transportation

of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Other familiar

extend the possibilities for where we can fish and how often. We can make a day-

NOAA programs are the National Weather Service, the Satellite and Information

trip out of going to The Bahamas from Miami and back. Whether you stay in state

Service, and the Marine Sanctuaries division. They’re also the folks who create and

waters or go those extra few miles, knowing who is managing your day on the

continuously update your marine maps, which get loaded into your navigation

water and what their priorities are is key to making recreational anglers partners

systems. (If you ever get lost, don’t blame them.)

in the decision-making process. Just don’t be on the lookout for any welcome

A consistent and unique challenge for NMFS has been balancing fisheries

billboards posted in the middle of the ocean any time soon.

used for both recreational and commercial purposes. The state boundaries were set to three miles offshore with the establishment of the Submerged Lands Act of 1953. Further, the 1976 Fishery Conservation and Management Act established federal waters from where state boundaries end out to 200 miles offshore,

Liz Ogilvie is the Chief Marketing Officer for the American Sportfishing Association. | 61

Recreation and Regulation BY MIKE LEONARD

Left: Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Senator Warren Magnuson (D-WA) during hearings on the 200-mile fisheries legislation (later the Magnuson-Stevens Act) before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans and Atmosphere in Washington D.C., on December 6, 1973. Photo courtesy of Stevens Foundation.


ost anglers don’t spend a ton of time dwelling on fishing regulations, much less the underlying regulatory process and statutes that lead to them. We know the season dates, bag and size limits

and any other potential regulations, and we go! After all, fishing is a way to get away from the more tedious and mentally-

and recreational fishing-dependent businesses who have felt like recreational

taxing parts of life. Trying to understand the complicated scientific, legal, and

fishing was an afterthought in a law and management system that has, for

political factors that go into determining when and how you can go fishing isn’t

decades, focused almost entirely on commercial fishing.

exactly a relaxing pastime. But for those of us who do spend a lot of time focused on fisheries policy—an admittedly small group—we’re in the middle of an extremely important and

The History of MSA

exciting time, particularly for the future of how offshore fisheries are managed. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA),

The world in 1976 was very different than the one we live in today (no

named after influential Senators Warren Magnuson from Washington and Ted

cell phones or texting!), and marine fisheries management is no exception.

Stevens from Alaska, is going through the process of being reauthorized by

Overfishing off the U.S. coast was rampant, particularly from foreign commercial

Congress. Originally passed in 1976, MSA is the primary statute governing how

vessels, resulting in U.S. fisheries that were in pretty poor shape. In response, U.S.

federal marine fisheries are managed.

territorial waters were expanded out to 200 miles and a framework was created for

For the first time in its history, the topic of how MSA addresses recreational fishing is leading the debate. This is encouraging news for the millions of anglers

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managing the domestic fishing fleet. Eight regional fishery management councils, comprised largely of fishermen, were created to develop fishing regulations.

While the original MSA was successful in kicking foreign vessels out of U.S.

the Morris-Deal Commission, after co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of

waters, it wasn’t as successful in sustainably managing our own. As a result,

Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats) titled “A Vision for

overfishing remained a significant problem for fisheries throughout the nation,

Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.”

hurting not only the health of fish stocks and habitat, but also many coastal

Some of the most notable provisions of the Modern Fish Act include:


Improving angler harvest data by requiring federal managers to explore

Major changes to the law were made in 1996, with a significant focus on

other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy

preventing overfishing and setting firm deadlines for rebuilding overfished

and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-led programs and electronic

fisheries. The next major reauthorization took place in 2006, in which further

reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps).

efforts to promote resource sustainability, including the requirement that all federally-managed fish stocks have an annual catch limit, were added. The good news is that, thanks to MSA and the changes that have been made

Requiring fisheries managers to finally provide a long-overdue review of how fishing quotas for individual species are divided between the recreational and commercial sectors. Rather than being based on decades-old decisions,

to it over time, the U.S. has arguably the best managed commercial fisheries in the

the Modern Fish Act would establish clear, objective criteria upon which these

world. Overfishing is now at an all-time low. However, because MSA’s focus has

decisions could be based, and require periodic review to ensure these allocations

been almost entirely on managing commercial fishing, which is a very different

are working.

activity than recreational fishing, in many cases, recreational fishermen have not reaped the benefits of MSA’s biological successes. The commercial fishing-oriented management approaches prescribed by

Recognizing that recreational fishing needs to be managed differently than commercial fishing. Even though recreational and commercial fishing are fundamentally different, they are basically managed the same way at the federal

MSA require precise and up-to-date biological and harvest data, both of which

level. The Modern Fish Act will authorize NOAA to use management strategies

are lacking for many recreational fisheries. As a result, anglers pursuing stocks

that have been successful at the state level for managing recreational fishing.

like summer flounder, cobia, black sea bass, triggerfish, amberjack, red snapper and others have faced access restrictions that change wildly from year-to-year and don’t seem to reflect what anglers are experiencing on the water. Despite

A Broad Coalition of Support

overfishing being at an all-time low, angler frustration with federal fisheries management has reached an all-time high. As Congress once against looks to reauthorize MSA, the recreational fishing

Anyone who has spent much time working with recreational fishermen knows that if you ask a group of 10 anglers their opinion on something, you’ll get 20

community has made it a top priority to ensure that this MSA reauthorization is

different responses. But in the case of the Modern Fish Act, the recreational fishing

finally the time in which recreational fisheries management issues are sufficiently

and boating community is pretty well united. Every major national recreational

addressed separately from that of commercial fishing.

fishing and boating organization working on saltwater fisheries issues support this bill.

The Modern Fish Act

The coalition of groups supporting the Modern Fish Act includes: the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey

In July, 2017, six U.S. senators, led by Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bill Nelson

Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine

(D-Fla.), introduced S. 1520, the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management

Manufacturers Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, The Billfish Foundation

Act (Modern Fish Act). This bipartisan bill addresses the recreational fishing

and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

community’s priorities for improving MSA in a way that finally accounts for the

Between the broad support for the Modern Fish Act within Congress and

importance and uniqueness of saltwater recreational fishing. A similar bill, H.R.

among the recreational fishing and boating community, the prospects are

2023, was introduced in the House earlier in the year by Representatives Garret

promising that this bill will move forward either as a standalone bill or as part of

Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman

a broader MSA reauthorization. However, it’s important that anglers continue to


weigh in with their members of Congress and urge their support. You can visit

The Modern Fish Act is essentially a bundle of various management and to learn more about the Modern Fish Act, get

data collection reforms that cumulatively will adapt the federal marine fisheries

involved and stay up to date on this and other issues affecting the future of

management system to better align with the nature of recreational fishing.

our sport.

Most of the provisions stem from a landmark report released in 2014 by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management (also known as

Mike Leonard is the Conservation Director for the American Sportfishing Association. | 63



It’s the first rule of survival—procreation. Survival is not only limited to biological creatures, but can apply to movements, passions and philosophies as well. Fishing is in my blood, always has been. I can’t even imagine a hundred years from now that people won’t have the passion or drive to go out fishing. It’s a legacy we all share in a common bond. As anglers, if we want to see our sport thrive and continue to have power and presence in an ever-changing human environment, we need to ensure that our “species” of anglers and the passion of fishing survives onward into future generations.

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Graph courtesy of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)


he Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recognized

states benefitting from the program are Vermont, which has instituted the “Reel

the importance of keeping our “stocks” high and engaged and

Fun in Vermont” push utilizing web, print, radio and social media to increase

developed a plan, termed “60 in 60.” The acronym refers to a program

angler participation, while the Nebraska Games and Parks Commission will

started on April 1, 2016, aimed to sustain a community of 60 million anglers

engage in sending timely and targeted emails to encourage multi-year license

within 60 months in the U.S. The real message and power of the 60 in 60 program

renewals and boat registration renewals.

is that by reaching a goal of 60 million anglers, the results could translate into

Out of all the R3 goals, recruitment, is the hardest nut to crack. “We really

14 million new anglers contributing $35 billion to the economy, 7.5 million new

try to focus on recruitment as that’s where we get the most resistance,” explains

boaters contributing $10 billion in economic contributions and newly-generated

Rodgers. “Those we retain and reactivate are already engaged and know the

$500 million in fishing license revenue. Over a series of instituted programs and

experience, but in recruitment efforts, we provide resources to help introduce

partnerships, the overall benefits of the 60 in 60 program include: increased

prospective anglers to fishing.” Examples of recruitment include the RBFF’s recent

fishing license sales and boating registrations; a huge bump in tackle and

partnership with Disney to represent the RBFF brand at the Disney resorts to

equipment sales; an expanding customer base for businesses; and more funds

introduce people to fishing, as well as running “First Catch Centers” across the

for states to protect aquatic natural resources through fish stocking, habitat

country. “The First Catch Centers are like Little League and Pop Warner football

management, fish surveys and boat ramp management.

programs, attracting kids to participate like feeder programs into the sport of

The RBFF’s working mechanism to build the structure of achieving the lofty 60 in 60 goal is termed the “R3” methodology, or Recruit, Retain and Reactivate, namely recruiting new anglers, retaining the active anglers and reactivating any anglers who may have slipped off the radar. “Through the R3 program, we provide grants to state agencies and

fishing,” notes Rodgers. “Hopefully, the First Catch initiative will be our Little League or Pop Warner to get kids involved and committed to fishing.” The RBFF’s 60 in 60 program also has stand-alone initiatives as well, and as Rodgers states, “In 2018, we are setting out to develop two new programs working with Fishing Future in Texas and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commissions.

communities to build the programs that benefit fishing communities,” states

The idea is to provide curriculum and draw people with limited or no fishing

David Rodgers, communications manager for the RBFF. Two recent examples of

experience into a series of events to learn about fishing in the area (e.g., rigging | 65

up rod and reel, learning the nearby waters, boating information).” Rodgers understands that while later generation adults may have had parental influence to get involved in fishing, there are many kids and adults alike that may have not had that push to move into fishing. “We want to create lifelong participants. These programs are centered a lot around urban kids who may have both parents working and never have an opportunity to get introduced to the sport. We step in to be the mentor to go fishing, and go fishing often.” So, what does the future hold for the 60 in 60 program? “Whether we reach the goal or not, we want the industry to rally behind the idea and see a concerted effort between state agencies and industry-related corporations to move the needle, to have fishing businesses rethink their focus on entry level customers,” said Rodgers. “If we realize the success we expect of this initiative, after this program, we should hopefully have built 10 more years of new customers to sell to. This is all a rallying cry for the industry and corporations to get behind recruiting new members; it’s good not only for the bottom line of profits but more importantly to ignite humanity for our passion and building numbers of fishermen as a whole.” Any time we can grow numbers for supporting the sportfishing lifestyle with engagement, conservation and protection of resources, we all win. Help spread the 60 in 60 ideology on your own on a grass roots level. If you see someone who doesn’t have the means or wherewithal to get on a boat, take them out fishing on your next trip. If your kid’s friend has a family that works day and night and has no time to teach them, bring them along the next time you head out with your kid. 60 in 60 is taking off across the country. It’s a focused movement that has been a long time coming. Even one small gesture can make a world of change. Join in the mantra of the RBFF’s 60 in 60 campaign and become an ambassador to the fishing world.

Nick Honachefsky is a Contributing Editor for Guy Harvey Magazine and the host of the new video series, Saltwater Underground.

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Top and bottom graphs courtesy of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) | 67



The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Konrad Witz. Circa 1443. (PD-1996 – public domain in a source country on January 1, 1996 and in the U.S.)

If your spouse or friends constantly rail on you for fishing too much, just explain calmly that fishing is an absolute religious experience. When they roll their eyes and mumble expletives at you, please inform them that Jesus had a special love and respect for us fishermen. 68 |

This is proven by the fact that most of Jesus’s disciples were fishermen. If you didn’t know that, I will attempt to enlighten you. Scholars may disagree on the exact number, but most believe that at least five of the 12 apostles fished for a

“the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind.” And, “you should be fishers of men.” Also, fishing was a source of some outstanding Biblical stories, the most

living. Other historians raise that number to seven. So, in any case, approximately

famous of which is when the disciples weren’t catching anything until Jesus

50% or more of the inner circle netted fish for a living. That puts you and me in

appeared and told them to try the other side of the boat. Then they caught so

pretty good company.

many the net almost ripped apart. So, it could be accurately claimed that Jesus

It may be logical to assume that fishing was an extremely popular profession during the time of Jesus and the rule of the Roman empire. In fact, it wasn’t. Sure, the folks around the Sea of Galilee did a lot of fishing, but in general, most people of that era were shepherds or farmers. Sheeps and goats were a lot easier to round up than catfish, which were (and still are) common to the Sea of Galilee. Sidenote

was the first fishing guide. I know a lot of guides, but I’m pretty sure I’d pick Jesus every time. I love the way that story begins, as if it’s you and your buddy sitting around on the porch wondering what to do. It goes like this: Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” And they said to him, “We will

dear reader: the Sea of Galilee is not really a sea at all. In fact, it’s a lake commonly

also come with you.” Yep, I’ve been there. Of course, among me and my fishing

known as Lake Tiberias or Lake Galilee. At 600 feet below sea level, it is the lowest

disciples, the next sentence would have been: And they asked him, “Who shall be

freshwater lake on Earth, and the second lowest lake in the world after the Dead

bringing the wine?”

Sea, which is a saltwater lake. With 30 miles of shoreline, Lake Galilee is fairly large,

Even with all of the love and respect for fishermen, there were challenges for

which may be why they called it a sea. It’s a total of 64 square miles in area and 13

Jesus and his fisher followers. First of all, the Philistines controlled most of the

miles long and about seven miles wide.

coastal area around the lake, so the Israelites were not able to access fishing as

At any rate, in addition to herding sheep and tending to farm animals, there

readily as they might have liked. Plus, according to the Law of Moses, the Israelite

were many professions to pursue 2,000 years ago, as there are today, even if we

people were not supposed to eat fish unless they had scales. So the abundant and

don’t count IT professionals and social media influencers. There were laborers,

aggressive catfish in the lake were forbidden to eat. Yet, we know from the story

craftsmen, politicians, military personnel, musicians, tax collectors, a very large

that someone caught at least two fish from Lake Galilee near the city of Bethsaida

population of slaves, and a small smattering of fishermen.

and then they fed 5,000 people. Surely that was a miracle, or the most amazing

So, is it just an anomaly that Jesus attracted fishermen to follow him? Was it just coincidence that these hard working men put down their nets and decided

fish tale I’ve ever heard. Historians also report that the fish was a favorite image for Jesus because the

to dedicate their lives to a new and uncertain future? Maybe it’s that fishing itself

Greek word for fish (ichthus) consists of the first letters that describe who Jesus

is an act of faith. We venture out into the wilderness with our rods, reels and

was: Ihsous, CHristos, THeos, Uios, Swthr which means Jesus, Christ, of God, the

consciousness of pure hope—not knowing whether we’ll come home empty

Son, Savior and adds one more reason why Jesus loved fishermen.

handed or with a cooler full of keepers. We dig in our tackle box with great care

In case you’re wondering who of the 12 were fishermen, they were Simon,

wondering if our choice of lure is correct. We gaze out across the water and try

Peter, Andrew, James and John and probably Thomas and Bartholomew.

to divine what patch might hold a few fish. Many of us even say a little prayer as

Definitely not Judas.

we rare back and chuck the lure as far as we can. “Please God, can you please just convince a big ol’ speckled trout to bite my hook? Please Lord?” Of course, I must point out here that in those olden days, they didn’t have

Those of us who have a deep love and passion for fishing really do consider it a religious experience. That sentiment is probably best described by the simple poem known as The Fisherman’s Prayer:

rods and reels and lures and bass boats and fancy marine electronics because, of course, none of that gear had been invented. Fishing was hard labor and performed with nets that had to be mended and cleaned and protected. Fishermen often worked long into the night, using two primary types of nets. Circular cast nets, similar to what we use today, were abundant. They generally stretched about 15 feet in diameter with fine mesh for catching fish in shallow water. Folks would toss cast nets from the shore or from the boat near shore. In deeper water—Lake Galilee is 141 feet deep—they used drag nets, some more than 300 feet long and eight feet wide, similar to today’s shrimp trawls. Perhaps the faith and work ethic of fishermen is what drew Jesus to them and them to Jesus. Fishing also provided the prophet with so many perfect analogies, such as

I pray that I may live to fish Until my dying day. And when it comes to my last cast, I then most humbly pray: When in the Lord’s great landing net And peacefully asleep That in His mercy I be judged Big enough to keep. -Author Unknown | 69

Bristol Bay gillnetters harvesting their catch on a breezy day in the shadow of Mt. Peulik in the Ugashik District in Bristol Bay. Photo by Chris Miller.

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It’s been called a fisherman’s dream, an outbacker’s panacea, a bird lover’s paradise. It’s the quintessential Alaskan wilderness, and considered to be one of the most pristine, unspoiled and invaluably intact ecosystems still in existence on planet Earth. Every image conjured in one’s mind of the beauty, majesty and outright “wildness” of Alaska could be illustrated in a place known as Bristol Bay. | 71


ocated in Southwest Alaska, on the Bering Sea, Bristol Bay’s

casting for sockeye, king, coho and chum salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden,

40,000-square-mile watershed is comprised of nine rivers, numerous

grayling and northern pike. Ask just about any fisherman you know, and I bet

lakes, streams and ponds, and thousands of acres of wetlands. Boasting

they’d tell you that the opportunity to fish these pristine waters at least once in a

five different ecosystems—marine, river, tundra, boreal forest and lake—it’s one of the most diverse and prolific environments in North America. Home to the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, this single region

lifetime is high on their bucket list. For thousands of years, Bristol Bay has remained virtually unchanged. But that could change…in a big way. While most consider the salmon industry in Bristol

provides nearly half of the entire global consumption of wild sockeye salmon each

Bay an axiomatic gold mine, it is the gold that lies beneath that threatens the

year. Every species of Pacific salmon (and another 24 species of fish, 190 birds, 40

future of what lies above.

terrestrial animals) rely on the healthy ecology of the Bristol Bay watershed for

Alaska has a rich history and robust economy from fishing and tourism, but

their survival. From the tiniest mud worm to the largest grizzly, every creature,

it’s no secret that a large portion of its economy has been driven by oil drilling

including man, could not survive without the salmon that make their way to

and mining. Mining represents the fifth largest industry behind petroleum,

Bristol Bay each summer. And it’s not just commercial fishing that thrives. The

government, fishing and tourism. These rich, natural resources of oil, minerals,

subsistent harvest supports thousands of native Alaskan tribesmen, women

forests, and fish, and the continual choice to preserve and protect, or to extract

and children. Bristol Bay boasts one of the largest sportfishing economies in the

and exploit has created clashes among Alaskans. But one such conflict has done

state, bringing in thousands of anglers each year to try their luck flyfishing or spin

just the opposite—the proposed Pebble Mine.

Brown bears prepare for winter by gorging themselves on sockeye salmon at the base of Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. Photo by Matt Luck.

72 |

Bristol Bay Fishery by the numbers ($ annually): • $1.5 billion economy • 14,000 jobs (commercial fishermen, guides, processors, lodge owners, tourism operators, etc.) • 160 million pounds of salmon valued at $310 million (wholesale) • $90 million tourism tax and license fee revenue • 37,000 individual sportfishing trips (1/3 out of state visitors) • 30 Alaska native tribes • 7,259 total population

2.5 Million

The Pebble Mine: A Looming Threat to Bristol Bay Over the past decade, Pebble has kept Bristol Bay businesses, wild salmon and jobs in limbo. With the change in federal Administration in 2017, the Pebble Partnership submitted an application to develop a massive open-pit mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska’s world-class salmon rivers. Review of their plans confirms the Pebble Mine would irrevocably damage Bristol Bay’s salmon runs, clean water, and wild landscape.

number of Americans who have expressed support for protecting Bristol Bay using 404(c)



Pebble targets completion of a pre-feasibility study in December 2008, a feasibility study by 2011, and start of commercial production by 2015. 1

2007 2001 Northern Dynasty Minerals acquires leases from Teck Cominco (which Cominco held since 1988)

2006 Northern Dynasty files preliminary water rights applications to use 35 billion gallons of water a year from three rivers. 2

Alaskans were assured that that “Pebble was on schedule to finalize a proposed development plan in 2009”... and apply for permits in early 2010 5

CEO of Anglo American Mining Company, says they won’t go where they’re not wanted.

Northern Dynasty Minerals releases preliminary assessment showing the Pebble deposit contains nearly 11 billion tons of ore


Pebble Partnership officially formed with Anglo American 3


Pebble fined for withdrawing water without a permit on 45 separate occasions.

Tribes, commercial fishermen, and many others file request to the EPA to initiate 404(c) Number of major mining companies that have walked away from the project


Anglo American withdraws from Pebble Partnership

14,000 fish based jobs in region

1 8






Rio Tinto exits Pebble project, granting its shares to two state-based non profits.





AK Gov. Bill Walker states, “in the Bristol Bay region we should prioritize the resource that has sustained generations and must continue to do so in 8 perpetuity.”




2 3 4 5 6 7

EPA receives a record number of comments in support of keeping the proposed Clean Water Act protections for Bristol Bay.




Pebble unveils a new “smaller” mine plan to the public just one week after pitching the project to potential new investors as the “initial approach” in what could, “operate for generations.”




The EPA issues the 404(c) Proposed Determination, which if finalized, would restrict the amount of mine waste that could be disposed of in the Bristol Bay region.

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he would not withdraw the 2014 Clean Water Act 404(c) Proposed Determination

Hours after a closed-door meeting between the new EPA Administrator and the CEO of Northern Dynasty, the EPA Administrator proposed to withdraw important protections for Bristol Bay salmon (the 2014 Proposed Determination).


Pebble files its federal permit applications. They include plans for an open pit up to 1,750 feet deep and over a mile wide & long; filling 6.4 square miles of wetlands; a private road system almost 100 miles long, which would cross Lake Iliamna and salmon streams 200+ times; a 188-mile pipeline from the Kenai Peninsula; a new deep-water port in Cook Inlet; billions of gallons of wastewater discharge annually; and more.

Pebble files for its state exloration permits (known as “MLUP”), which reveals plans for dozens of new drill holes outside of the proposed phase 1 mine site, as well as drawing over 80,000 gallons of water per day from Upper Talarik Creek 6

annual revenue brought in by fish-based economy

$1.5 billion Timeline courtesy of Trout Unlmited

It’s a battle that’s been raging in the Bristol Bay region for nearly a decade. On one side is Northern Dynasty Minerals, a Canadian-based mining

began exploring in earnest (see timeline). The proposed Pebble site is situated about 15 miles upstream from Lake

company; and on the other side, a coalition of opposition from Alaska Regional

Iliamna in the Bristol Bay watershed and is purported to hold the largest

Native Corporations, commercial and recreational fishermen, guides, chefs,

known undeveloped copper ore body in the world, estimated to contain $300+

environmental groups, NGOs, hunting guides, outfitters and hundreds of other

billion worth of recoverable copper, gold and other metals. From an economic


standpoint, one might see why it’s so attractive. Many believe there is no amount

Mineral exploration began in the late 1980s, but the proposed mine did not receive much national attention until the early 2000s, when Northern Dynasty

of money worth the consequential economic, cultural and environmental disaster that could come from a project like Pebble. | 73

Unlike the Klondike gold rush period in the early 1900s, where precious metals were extracted from rich veins on a small scale, today’s mines (like Pebble) hold mostly low-grade ore, that require behemoth open-pit operations. To make the mine most profitable, Pebble would have to be as large as Manhattan and as deep as the Grand Canyon. Just to obtain one single pound of ore, miners would have to sift through and eradicate 99 pounds of rock. Chemicals used to separate the gold and copper deposits from the rest of the rock create toxic waste that must be contained on-site. Dams would have to be built to handle billions of tons of mine “tailings” to keep it from contaminating the surrounding environment—forever. “Tailings” are the mud-like toxic waste left over from the chemical process of separating the valuable part of the ore from the invaluable. According to the EPA, the mine would have the potential to destroy 94 miles of streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes… and that doesn’t take into account the additional socio-economic and environmental impact from the infrastructure required to build such a project. Matt Luck has been a commercial fisherman in Alaska for 40 years. The founder of Pride of Bristol Bay, he and his family sell traceable and sustainable Bristol Bay salmon nationwide. Regarding the proposed Pebble Mine, Luck says, “This issue has brought every stakeholder together like none other. There’s no place like Bristol Bay in the world. It is truly a global treasure, an incomparable cold-water fisheries habitat. “Consequences created from the development of the Pebble Mine have the potential to rival the environmental disaster caused by the grounding of the Exxon Valdez on March 24, 1989.” At the time,

In Bristol Bay, sockeye salmon is the catch of the day for this fisherman. Photo by Chris Miller.

the Exxon Valdez was the worst oil spill in North America, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska.

from the proponents of the Pebble project, and quite

dam burst at Mount Polley, an open- pit copper and

Luck, a resident of Cordova, Alaska, at the time of

frankly, it’s frightening.”

gold mine in British Columbia, Canada, spilling six

the spill, remembers vividly the social, economic

There’s reason to worry about Pebble.

billion gallons of toxic waste. Within four days, the

and environmental havoc that rained down upon

Proponents of Pebble Mine contend that the mine

1.5-square-mile sludge pond was virtually emptied

the region for years after that catastrophic event.

plan is safe, and strict measures would be taken to

into nearby lakes and streams. Arsenic, copper, nickel,

Luck comments, “The oil industry said it could never

protect the environment. The same was said about

and lead, contaminated drinking water and salmon

happen, and now we are hearing the same rhetoric

Polley Mine. But on August 4, 2014, a tailings pond

spawning grounds. Mine safety experts called it “the

74 |

largest environmental disaster in modern Canadian history.” Could something like

the administrator, in a shocking move, directed staff to withdraw important

that happen in Bristol Bay?

protections for Bristol Bay.

Nelli Williams grew up in the Midwest, hunting and fishing, but since

So, a new battle for Bristol Bay has begun. Nelli Williams contends that Alaska

childhood dreamed of living in Alaska. “I always had the Alaska bug,” she says.

needs both state-based protections as well as long-term protection from the EPA

After college, she did volunteer work, which ultimately led her to Trout Unlimited.

and other federal agencies. Pebble’s next step is to begin the permitting process

Now, 10 years later, she’s the Alaska program director for Trout Unlimited and

at both governmental levels; and the people of Alaska, the Lower 48 and the

living in Anchorage. “Pebble could happen in the next five years if people don’t

international community need to speak up for the future of this amazing place

speak out now,” she says. Nelli is encouraged by the diverse base of opposition,

called Bristol Bay. Their life really does depend on it.

and how Alaskans are coming together to fight this threat. “But still,” she contends, “we’ve got a big fight ahead.” She’s ready. Significant strides were made in 2014 when the EPA released its Proposed

Elijah Lawson has spoken up, and he’s doing his part. For three decades, Elijah has fished Bristol Bay with his family. His love for salmon, for the culture and the unique way of life in Bristol Bay is evident in a

Determination to limit mining within the Bristol Bay region, citing the mine would

documentary he created, In the Same Boat. “This issue is so BIG, and these people

cause irreversible and unacceptable damage to the Bristol Bay salmon ecosystem.

are so important,” he says, “I wanted to do something to make a difference.

In 2016, the Inspector General determined the EPA acted fairly in its assessment,

Everything subsists off salmon here. This is how I see it,” he continues, “the rivers

the findings of which ultimately directed the agency to limit mining activities in

and waters are the veins of the earth; the salmon rushing up to fill the rivers are

Bristol Bay due to its unacceptable risk.

the blood.”

Then in 2017, the new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, and Pebble Limited

“It’s simple,” he said. “If you don’t have salmon, you don’t have life.”

Partnership CEO Tom Collier held a brief, closed-door meeting. Soon after,

In the summer of 2017, the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game estimated that over 20 million wild sockeye salmon escaped into the spawning habitat at the headwaters of the five major river systems in Bristol Bay. Photo by Bob Waldrop. | 75



revolution BY FRED GARTH

I’ve often bored people with the story of when I was publicly ridiculed by my good-ol’boy fishing buddies back in 1995 as I loaded my fishing gear into a funky, yellow kayak. My buds all guffawed and spit Skoal juice at me as their two-stroke engines bellowed gray smoke into the ozone layer. I’m not saying I was the first person on the planet to use a kayak to fish—those were Eskimos—but I was an early American adopter. Fatefully, on my very first trip, I landed a humongous, 28-in. speckled trout in skinny water that they couldn’t reach in their 17-ft. Aquasport. Within a year, most of them had bought yaks, too. Today, I have four kayaks and one of those skeptical Skoal spitters has five.

Transport is easy if you have an automobile with a solid roof or a friend with a

Apparently, we are not alone. The Outdoor Foundation’s Annual Topline Report

truck. You don’t have to live on an expensive piece of waterfront property. And,

estimates that in 2016 a total of 2,370,000 kayak fishermen prowled American

most importantly, there’s no need to get permission from your wife if—and

waters. That’s more than double the barely one million participants in 2010.

this part is vital—you buy her something of equal or greater value, and if you

Before that year, kayak fishing didn’t even register on their spreadsheet.

continue to clean the toilets because of that “incident” involving the neighbor’s

But that’s just kayakers who specifically fish. The same report claims more than nine million “recreational kayakers.” I’m pretty sure some of those yakkers tote a rod and reel around from time to time. Then you can throw in three

mailbox, some Blackjack firecrackers, a grease gun and too much tequila. But, we don’t have to revisit that fateful night. Oh yeah, you can catch a lot of fish on a kayak, too. Access into eco-

million “sea touring kayakers” and 2.5 million “whitewater kayakers.” Now

sensitive no-motor zones where fish frequently lurk, and into shallows where

we’re up to almost 18 million Americans paddling and pedaling around on

only expensive flats boats can reach, gives us hardcore fishing freaks a sense of

ponds, rivers, mud puddles, oceans and cities that are haplessly engulfed in

superiority that we wholeheartedly deserve because we were smart enough to


buy a kayak in the first place.

Kayaking has blossomed for obvious reasons. The entry price is low, relative to any suitable power boat that won’t sink immediately and kill you.

76 |

And thusly and therefore, are the foundational elements of a full-bore revolution.

Revolution Evolution

The truth is, fishing kayaks are laden with gear, especially those set up to compete in tournaments.

and future of motorized kayaks, I shall inform you

Electronics, live wells, GoPros, you name it.

that the Kayak Bass Fishing tournament in March

In recent years, putting electric motors on yaks

What began as a few of us wackos mixing

If you have any doubt about the feasibility

2018 has a grand prize of $100,000. That is not a

has become an entire cottage industry. And, if the

typo. One hundred grand, baby! And, my point is,

German company, Torqeedo, which is the leader in

the tournament explicitly allows electric motors

kayaking with fishing turned into an all-out

electric kayak motors, has anything to say about

on yaks. I cite the the official document called KBF

hashtag movement. It’s been spreading like a bad

it, we’ll all be motorizing our yaks. Not that I’m

Competition Rules Standard. Listed under Item 8.B.

rash. But in a good way. The Internet, with all of its

against it. If I’m stranded three miles from home

with the heading Watercraft & Propulsion, it clearly

Facetimes and Chatsnaps and InstaTwits, provided

facing a 10-knot wind, I’ll vote for electric power 10

states that: “Watercraft propulsion is restricted to

a source for endless streams of video to propel the

out of 10 times. Or if I’m fishing a river, paddling or

paddle, pedal, pole or electric motor.” They slipped

Revolution into a frenzy.

“electric motor” in at the end, but it’s there. If I

The growth of kayaking in all sectors from

can win that much money and travel all the way

fishing to white water continues to rocket upward

to freaking Paris, um...oh, that’s Paris, Tennessee,

and now there’s an Evolution within the Revolution.

population 10,156, which claims to be home of the World’s Biggest Fish Fry. Anyway, if I can win $100,000, you can bet I’m gonna mount a motor on my boat so I can cover more ground and focus on the cash rather than fighting with a paddle. Oh, they also have a 70-ft. replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tennessee. If you Google “trolling motor on my kayak,” you can spend hours seeing dudes retrofitting trolling motors on yaks with hardware-store supplies. That’s one way to do it, Bubba. But there are a number of reputable companies selling mounts and motors specifically to fit your kayak. However, no company has been in the market as long or invested as much as Torqeedo (they put up a chunk of the $100K prize money) in electrifying yaks. They have seen the future and it has a propeller on it. So, if you’re a kayaker or just haven’t bought one yet, think about the motor evolution. We went pedaling upstream might make my heart explode.

from paddles to pedals, and it appears that electric

Unless I have a motor. Safety note to river kayakers:

power is the new choice for advanced primates. You

That is, the massive existing yak community is bent

ALWAYS go upstream when you first launch, just in

can do the hardware store gig or power your craft

on modifying their boats with accessories from

case of motor failure. You can float downstream if

with a quick shopping spree online.

anything to everything. I have outfitted one of my

your motor tanks; but if your motor fails when you’re

kayaks with a leather La-Z-Boy recliner and a 42-

five miles downriver, well, you know the expression of

inch flat screen TV powered by a satellite dish. Not

being up shit creek? Same thing except you’re down

really. But, don’t be surprised if someone does it.

shit creek. | 77

Here are a few of the most popular options:

Torqeedo When it comes to electric outboard engines, Torqeedo stands alone on the summit. They even have an 80hp called the DeepSea. However, their sweet spot is in the 4hp to 20hp range for dinghies, small watercraft and sailboats. They’re also laser focused on kayaks. They offer both a stern-mounted engine, the Ultralight 403, and a brilliantly designed engine that slips seamlessly into the pedal well of a Hobie or Wilderness System kayak. Hobie’s is called the Evolve; Wilderness System has the Helix MD motor drive. Removing the pedals and dropping in the motor takes all of about 15-20 seconds. No tools are necessary. Maybe the coolest aspects of Torqeedo’s engines are the accessories. It comes with a throttle you can mount next to your seat, with a computer screen that shows your speed, battery life, estimated distance and a bunch of data to help your cruise go smoothly. Our contacts at Torqeedo have informed us that they’ve upgraded the battery on the Ultralight 403 from a 320Wh to a 915Wh battery, so, according to them, it will run “all day.”

Evolve: $2,150

Ultralight 403: $1,800

Old Town Predator XL Minn-Kota Console Two companies that have been well established in boating for many decades are Old Town and Minn-Kota motors. Now they’ve teamed up on an ergonomic Minn-Kota motor insert for the Old Town Predator kayak. It fits into the pedal well via a hinge system that easily lifts up or locks down. It hooks up to a full-sized battery mounted behind the seat. When it’s lifted up, the system is quite bulky, but once it’s popped into place, the clutter is gone and there’s an easily accessible storage compartment between your legs.

$1,200 (motor insert only)

78 |

Bixpy Jet This is the niftiest and most versatile little electric motor we’ve ever seen and it’s packed with power. It has a portable battery pack that pops into a handle so it can be used as a handheld scooter to drag you around while you’re snorkeling or diving. For boating, you can attach it to the back of your yak, connect it to a larger battery and cruise around at speeds up to seven knots, according to the folks at Bixpy. It comes with a wireless remote to control the 10 forward speeds and three reverse speeds. They also have brackets to attach it to the stern of most kayaks and, most ingenious, have a kit to attach it to the rudder of your kayak. This not only pushes your boat, but it also eliminates the need for an additional steering system for the motor. Very smart people, those Bixpy’s!

$775 - $1,099

Island Hopper Outboards If a handyman retrofit is too much for your skillset and the custom-made kayak motors are too expensive for your pocketbook, there is another option. The good folks from Island Hopper Outboards can help you motorize your kayak for between $200 and $300 bucks. They have a tremendous selection of mounting brackets for all of the popular brands and can motorize most any kayak on the market. You can also buy batteries, chargers, propellers and just about any accessory you’ll need to power up.

$200-$300 | 79


HOOKED ON THE BAHAMAS Want to make someone exceedingly happy? Sure you do. It’s easy. Just tell them you’re going to The Bahamas and invite them to come with. You’ll immediately see a big ol’ slice of watermelon spread across their face. And, you’ll be their newest best least until after the trip! What is it about the islands that gets our heart racing and our soul soaring? Is it the 50 shades of blue? And not much gray. Or the visions of snorkeling with pastel creatures, dolphins and, yes, sharks? Those insta-grins spring forth with thoughts of cold beers on a blazing hot day and, later, tropical drinks as the orange orb melts into the horizon while steel drums magically whisk away your stress. There’s the smell of fried fish and conch fritters in the air. And garlic butter fumes absorbed into your nostrils as it’s poured over a plate of grilled lobster tails. Mmm. We fantasize of skipping across a light chop in a beefy center console while we rig the rods for tuna, mahi, wahoo or whatever will rip off line until the reel screams for mercy. It’s all of


those fantastical daydreams that fuel us, along with a huge serving of not being at the office

For the past 25 years, Fred D. Garth’s articles have appeared in

staring at a computer screen with 132 unanswered emails.

numerous books, magazines and newspapers around the world.

Shall we state the obvious? We yearn for paradise. It completes us. It powers us through cruel bosses and kids who break iPhones like I lose fishing lures. Paradise has saved me from

Read his blog at:

insanity so many times. I’ve tasted—no, feasted—on it more than I deserve. I’ve caught everything from bonefish to billfish. I’ve dived with pufferfish, tarpon, turtles, sailfish, sharks and humpback whales. I’ve walked sandy beaches from the Caribbean to Italy to the Indo Pacific. I’m not boasting, I’m leading up to a salient point. Or at least, I’m trying to but my mind

Right: The tranquility of the Old Bahama Bay Club on Grand Bahama. 80 |

keeps drifting off to glorious tropical moments. Anyway, my point is that, thank God, there are good, inspired people in this world who are protecting paradise. Because, there are always those unsavory A-Holes who want to exploit our precious resources, usually for a fast buck. In this issue, we’ve featured the Bahamas National Trust, a group that is working day and night to fight back the onslaught of exploitation—both by man and nature. They can confront real estate developers, illegal fishing fleets, crooked politicians, and even invasive lionfish, but what about ocean acidification, coral bleaching and hurricanes? It’s an ongoing battle, sometimes against insidious foes we cannot even see or control. Nonetheless, they march forward, these saints for nature. They fight every day to make sure the planet will be a better place in the future rather than what we’ve come to expect: a slow, steady degradation of the ecosystem. I applaud the BNT and the hundreds of other organizations who are watchdogs for our paradise playground. They are the heroes of our generation and they are spawning a whole new genre of young, active conservationists. The good news is that all of these efforts to revive the heartbeat of our planet have made and are making a difference. We are seeing wild animal stocks building back to record numbers. Rivers, lakes and bays that once were uninhabitable are being managed back to health. Oyster farms, which clean the water and provide tasty nourishment, seem to be popping up everywhere. Renewable energy is booming so fast that one day soon kids will be asking, “So, like, can you explain why people like burned oil when there’s so much sunlight and wind to, you know, like, harness?” And, “You mean cars and boats weren’t electric back then? That’s just weird.” Yep, there is hope on the horizon. But now is not the time to relent. This is the moment when we should increase our efforts and then ramp them up even more. So, I urge everyone reading my words to support local and national conservation organizations with money and manpower. It will make you feel good about yourself and, as a bonus, help make the world better. When you think about it, that’s another way to make

Above and below: Chilling out at the beach on

someone smile, even if you don’t take them with you to The Bahamas.

Grand Bahama at the Old Bahama Bay Club. | 81

82 | | 83


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G U Y H A R V E Y S P O R T S W E A R . C O M

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