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February 04, 2009



This is the first time that I have ever responded to an article in a newspaper but yours of today obviously hit a sore spot.

I first came to the Bahamas in 1974 as head teacher in on Out Island school. In those days there was no road to the main settlement on the island so if I wanted protein it had to come from the sea. I had my own compressor and tanks but seldom used them it was not necessary to spear to eat.

Obviously I was much younger and fitter then but I could spear comfortably at 40 ft. and touch bottom at 60 ft. There were beaches I could go to and be sure of spearing a grouper. I impressed a couple of young ladies by walking to a beach where they could sunbathe and I could catch dinner. I think I was the first person on the island to own a wet suit.

The above is to give you some idea that I know a little about the subject.

Even to-day, most of the fish caught on the island is by spearing. It is my feeling that inshore fishing would improve very quickly if surface demand gear was banned. I cannot go out to-day with much hope of spearing anything above 90 ft. Certainly not a grouper.

I know that this would not be very popular but it would give many species a chance to recover. This is particularly true of our crawfish. I do not know whether those catching grouper while they spawn use spears or nets but I suspect many are speared and so it would help the grouper as well.

Personally I would like to see the government enact legislation to outlaw all scuba and surface demand compressors for use in fishing. Any Bahamian stopped with any form of compressed air diving gear and spears in the boat should have the equipment confiscated. Any non-Bahamian should have their boat confiscated as well. I would not confiscate a Bahamian's boat as they could still make a living free diving.

I realise that this would create problems for local people at first but I think that the population of crawfish, in particular, would rebound very quickly, and within five years there would be good catches again.

While you are on the subject of local conservation of species you should write an article on conch. As I understand the current situation, the only countries that export conch are the Bahamas and Belize.

Florida stopped the taking of conch years ago. Thirty years ago no one took undersize conch as there was plenty of adults in a few inches of water. Today it is necessary to dive for them.

Conch is such a staple of Bahamian diet that if they were fished out the disgruntlement could be greater than that at the explosion of the Haitian population. This is a far more difficult one to legislate as no one wants to tell a citizen that they cannot eat their staple diet. But the government should consider, at least, putting some sort of limit on the amount of conch that can be exported from any given Island.

I am not aware whether the conch has a breading season; if it does then there should be a closed season on the taking of the animal.

I hope I have given you some food for thought.

larry smith

Many thanks for your comment - and I agree with you. Air compressors are allowed for fishing between 30 and 60 feet - which is of course widely abused.

I refer you to my earlier article on conch.


Bruce Purdy

I operate 5 scuba diving live-aboards in the Bahamas. During 2007 we helped NOAA collect lionfish for a year-long research project they were conducting. As part of this research we did fish surveys in the Bimini area.

During our surveys we saw only one Nassau grouper in 12 dives. During the previous two years the Bimini area was heavily fish-trapped. We also noticed very low numbers of parrotfish, which are vital for the survival of the reefs as they help keep the reefs clear of algae.

Parrotfish as well as many other fish are frequently by-catch in fish traps. When the traps are brought up from the depths these fish die from embolism.

One other threat we discovered in our lionfish collections was that where lionfish are plentiful they are eating a very high percentage of juvenile Nassau grouper. The Nassau grouper we found in the stomachs of lionfish were much smaller then they should be.

Yvonne Sadovy

Many thanks indeed for this. Much appreciated. So glad to see this species get important coverage.

Just one general comment that I probably did not emphasize
enough but the long-term hope is that more productive aggregations will lead to significant increases in catches between spawning seasons.

That is certainly an important objective and part of the win-win that I talk about.

Sherrill Callender

Having been associated with BREEF since its inception and with my husband being a member of the board, Wednesday's article was about a subject near and dear to my heart and I would like to commend you on the excellent piece. It was informative and written so that it should be understood by anyone who is literate...that our marine resources are not inexhaustible!

I just had a meeting with my dear friend, Sir Nicholas' widow, Genie, to scout locations for our next fundraiser in November. We usually have one every other year but due to Nicholas' death a year ago this past July, we did not have one last year. As BREEF relies on the money generated by these events for its operational expenses, it is critical that we pull this next one off in a big way as the coffers are definitely at a low.

I would love to see more articles concerning our environments (land, wildlife, seas etc.) as we can only succeed in preserving what we have left if we can get more and more people "on board" and I'm convinced that the way to do that is by "getting the word out" and educating not only children but those directly involved eg: for the marine environment; fishermen and the charter fishing industry: for the land; developers, contractors, real estate companies, architects, building contractors and landscapers. There seems to be a real disconnect with the majority of people between our environment and our quality of life as I watch with dismay the destruction of our forests and wetlands which, in time, will have an impact on everyone and everything .

Greed and instant gratification seem to be the rule of the day, not only here but globally so when an hard hitting article such as the one you wrote comes to light, perhaps more than just a few will wake up.

Thanks for your voice for the voiceless.

Anjel Marielle Candelario

..can you please provide us the life cycle and the breeding cycle of epinephelus fuscoguttatus? We needed these for our study. We are not sure whether some answers provided by other sites were correct. So we needed something to compare with.

Anjel Marielle Candelario


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