Though I never spent much time in the Bahamas, most of my time in other Caribbean nations, I suspect that things there may well be as they are elsewhere.
Though the economy as a whole benefits from a thriving fishery, the trouble is that only a select few actually do, and a good number of those few don't even claim where they are at as home. What that translates to is, while a select few rake in a fortune, and a restricted minority of locals benefit, on the whole the balance of the population does not. Those that give in and go to work for the above bringing in a sub-cost of living income, and those that don't left scrambling for whatever they can do to make ends meet.
With that in mind, the Bahamas is by a vast margin one of the more expensive places to live than say Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, and though I cannot comment on the state of things directly, using Jamaica as an example let me offer up the following;
My wife's and my first trip to Jamaica in 97 was a real eye opener for her in that across from the expensive resorts of Negril were what were literally one room corrugated tin shacks that entire families lived within. Their daily meals modest at best. Native grown fruits, white flour dumplings (touted as the reason the people were starving to death with their bellies full) their goat used for milking when it could do no more occasionally served up (so a rare thing and usually sold), and those that fished, what they'd catch.
We opted to go fishing with a pair of Rastafarians by the names of Jack and Tony instead of the local lone high dollar charter boat, their outriggers literally 20' bamboo poles, and on that trip I caught my first Marlin. You could see the anticipation in their eyes as to "what I was going to do with it" before it was even on the boat, and unknowing of the state of Billfish told them that they could have it to their relief.....and it is my understanding that they sold it.
That said, a year later we were back, Jack and Tony who the entire first trip had been eyeing my camo BDU's now a little more comfortable with us, me wearing similar on the second trip kept mentioning over and over how they'd really like a pair.....and why not? They were literally wearing the exact
same clothes as the year before. The same raggedy shorts and t-shirts, and no shoes and clearly never wearing them.
So the third trip I brought them each a couple pairs of BDU's and t-shirts especially in that I'd not be keeping anymore Billfish...and by the fourth and fifth trips, their teeth failing even more, skinnier than ever, those t-shirts and BDU's had clearly been worn daily......and that once $.50 beer now cost $3.00 from all of the new U.S. investors buying up everything on 7-mile beach.
Point of that being?......The lions share of the population in many Caribbean nations are literally living hand to mouth. The few jobs there pay next to nothing, and that Bonefish, what we in the U.S. would never consider eating is a rare treat not giving a hoot about "protecting the fishery" in that it is not protecting it for them or their children, yet protecting it for a few people who don't need the money let alone the food anyway.
It doesn't serve them in the long run to go hungry and they realize that. They'll never benefit from a better fishery, and worse still they'll be the only ones to suffer for it in the mean time in that it only serves those who already can afford to carry such high morals.
In the end its a problem with rather simple solutions that won't change in our lifetime. So the question is "what can we do to help?"
Well, about all I can offer is rather shallow. Those clearly in need toss them a little extra in that tip to help make up for that released fish...and those not in need, well, give them the speech, and make it clear that you only support catch and release guides/charters.
How well does that work? Well, that charter service we use in Jamaica "Stanley's Deep Sea Fishing" due in small part
to our efforts in our community
increased their business which allowed them to grow steadily from that beat up old boat with plastic lawn chairs as Captains seats to the fleet they have today.....Yet most of all by the second year with me pressing for it (yet compensating them)......Joined the IGFA, and the Billfish Foundation, and went 100% catch and release on Billfish.
So YOU can
make a difference......It just takes enough of YOUs to do it.
Stanley's website: Home