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Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Travels Safe with Global Rescue

December 23, 2020
Categories: Safety, Member Testimonials, Partners

From the Florida Keys to Caribbean islands, you’ll find Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) conducting research in remote, tropical locations.

“Our mission is to conserve bonefish, tarpon and permit — the species, their habitats and the larger fisheries they comprise,” said Jim McDuffie, president and CEO of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a nonprofit organization leading the way to understand the bonefish lifecycle.

To research bonefish, a near-threatened species, BTT scientists regularly travel to where bonefish live: tropical and warm temperate waters near coasts, inter-coastal flats, near mangroves, and around mouths of tidal creeks. BTT members travel across the southeastern United States, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean to meet with partners, conduct research and fish the flats.

With all this international travel — sometimes to Level 4 warning locations or remote tropical islands — who protects BTT staff, board members and scientists?

Global Rescue.

Why Bonefish?

Bonefish are the perfect fly-fishing target. They are fast, they are fighters and you must cast with precision to catch one.

Twelve species of bonefish are spread around the tropics worldwide. Albula vulpes is the species anglers pursue on the flats of South Florida, considered the birthplace of flats fishing, the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean.

But this ancient group of fish, occurring in fossil records going back 138 million years, has seen a population decline in recent years.

BTT was founded in 1997 by a group of six anglers concerned with the decrease of the bonefish population in the Florida Keys. They resolved to learn more about the causes, but there was little information available. Initial research efforts focused on bonefish tagging to collect data.

Over the years, BTT expanded its scope to include education and conservation. This includes work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to make bonefish and tarpon catch-and-release only in Florida and better protect spawning permit; work in the Bahamas to support the creation of National Parks to protect critical bonefish spawning locations and bonefish home ranges from future development; and bonefish studies in Florida, the Bahamas, Mexico, Belize and Cuba used to improve habitat protections and fishing regulations.

BTT’s mission is vital to the health of the flats fishery and those who depend on it. The recreational flats fishery has an annual economic impact of $465 million in the Florida Keys, $169 million in the Bahamas and $56 million in Belize.

One Less Worry While Traveling

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has been a Global Rescue member since 2015.

“Given all of the travel we do as part of our regional conservation work, the Global Rescue membership gives us peace of mind as we organize and conduct research, often in remote locations,” said Dr. Aaron Adams, BTT’s director of science and conservation.

A coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop BTT’s progress, including a 2020 project focused on restoring red mangroves pummeled by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas in 2019.

“Mangroves are an integral part of healthy bonefish habitat, providing shelter for bonefish and their prey and holding the flats together against the eroding forces of currents and wind. As one of the most powerful storms on record, Dorian severely impacted mangroves on Abaco and Grand Bahama, wiping out expansive stands and leaving flats and shorelines bare,” Adams said. “Mangroves impacted at this magnitude will need help to recover.”

BTT, working collaboratively with Bahamas National Trust and other partners, assessed and mapped the damage — information that will “guide a multi-year restoration effort at a scale never before attempted in the Bahamas,” Adams said. “Ultimately, our success will benefit nature and people — the flats fishery and all those who love and are sustained by it.”

BTT’s important work will continue in 2021, with Global Rescue at its side.

“This work will include restoring vital juvenile tarpon habitat in Southwest Florida, addressing water quality issues impacting the flats fishery in South Florida and the Keys, advocating for Everglades restoration, and identifying and seeking protection for important bonefish habitat and pre-spawning sites in the Bahamas,” said Nick Roberts, BTT’s director of marketing and communications. “Global Rescue memberships ensure the trips are productive, safe and enjoyable.”

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