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Anglers Have Opportunity to Speak: Bahamas Responding in Positive Manner
Purse Seine Sailfish
We don't want what happened off Panama to occur in the Bahamas- Prohibit purse seining in the Bahamas!
The Billfish Foundation (TBF) is pleased the government of the Bahamas is responding quickly to address the issue of whether to permit the use of purse seine gear in their waters. 
TBF sent a letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Lawrence Cartwright, making clear the egregious error of permitting purse seine gear to operate in their waters. (To read the letter, please click here).  The response from anglers, captains, mates and tournament directors has been forceful; fortunately those who depend upon healthy fish stocks and healthy functioning ecosystems to make a living recognize the danger than flows from overfishing.  In response, the government has announced that it is "not minded" to permit the use of the gear and, in so doing, it acknowledged the importance of sportfishing to their tourism industry and the threat such net gear could render to their marine species 
The government, through the Grand Bahamas Regional Committee of the Bahamas National Trust, is now convening a Town Meeting to discuss the Netting of Tuna in the Bahamas on Monday, March 1, 2010 at 6:30 pm at the Rand Nature Centre, Settler's Way.  Each individual wishing to speak will be allowed 5 minutes to present their information to the government representations. If you can attend this meeting, please let it be known that purse seine fishing in the waters of the Bahamas would contribute to further overfishing of marlin and sailfish stocks, for they are the primary bycatch in the yellowfin tuna fishery. Purse seining would also catch mammals, sea turtles and many other bycatch species that would die in the nets.  Most likely a purse seine operation off the Bahamas would want to set on FAD (fish aggregating devices), which increases the deadly effect of the gear.  FADs are increasing as fish stocks are declining and creating an even more vicious circle of death.  
If you cannot attend the meeting, you can send your comments to the Honorable Larry Cartwright, Minister of Agriculture & Marine Resources and copy to the Bahamas National Trust via their website. 
Most Atlantic marlin mortality comes from targeted commercial yellowfin tuna fisheries.   The problem is acerbated by the fact that the distinguishing life history characteristics of yellowfin tuna make them more resilient than marlin species.  If managers wait until the targeted yellowfin stocks are seriously overfished, the marlin stocks will have collapsed.  More management and conservation attention needs to be paid to better management of Atlantic marlin stocks, not to furthering fishing methods that exacerbate their overfishing.   Only the North Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks are in worse shape than Atlantic blue marlin and white marlin stocks.  The Billfish Foundation strongly urges the Bahamas NOT TO AUTHORIZE PURSE SEINE GEAR and to join the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), an international regional management organization to help improve the management and conservation of marlin, sailfish, spearfish, swordfish, tunas and sharks.  Each member nation has an equal voice and vote; it is time for the Bahamas to contribute its support for improved Atlantic-wide conservation.
The robust sportfishing tourism economy driven by the availability of marlin in the Bahamian waters would collapse if there were no billfish to catch.  The sportfishing industry is primarily catch and release and the industry contributes to research to assist fishery managers and economic studies, proving again that good conservation pays economically and ecologically.  
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