To the Editor:
As 2019 draws to a close, many of us will write a list of resolutions for the New Year, things that we can do better, or action we can take to benefit our communities and improve the world around us. Here at Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, we’re striving to do our very best to conserve the flats fishery for future generations, and today I want to share some of my resolutions for 2020 in hopes that you will add them to your own list.
My first resolution is to take more young people fishing. Do you remember what your first experience on the flats was like? For me, it was deeply inspiring and created a connection with the natural world I had not previously known. What better way to share your passion and conservation ethic than to spend a day on the water with your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. The seagrass meadows, bird life, and encounters with the fish of the flats will undoubtedly make a positive impression and foster in them a care for the environment that will last a lifetime. It is incumbent upon each of us to pass on our knowledge and passion for the flats with the next generation of anglers—it’s one of the few ways we can ensure the future health of our bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries.
Today plastic is more pervasive than ever and causing lasting damage to the marine environment. Bottles, drinking straws, balloons, and bags are strewn across Florida’s shores as well as those of countries throughout the Caribbean, marring beautiful cays and spoiling once pristine flats. My second resolution is to further reduce my own plastic use and to collect any litter I pass on the flats. There are a couple simple things we can all do to help kick plastic. Rather than buying single-use water bottles for the boat, bring aboard your own reusable bottles. And instead of relying on the plastic bags at the grocery store check-out line, take your own shopping bags with you. These simple actions taken by many of us can make a significant dent in our collective plastic use, reducing the trash that piles up in our landfills and litters our beaches and mangrove shorelines.
The way we fight and handle fish greatly influences the health of the fish post-release. For this reason, my third resolution is to share with a young angler, fishing partner, or my local fishing club some tips for ensuring that a caught fish swims away healthy. Please follow these links to the BTT website to review the best catch and release handling practices for tarpon and bonefish. Handling our catches with care is a simple way that all flats anglers can contribute to the conservation of the species we love to pursue.
As Bonefish & Tarpon Trust embarks on its twenty-third year, we are grateful for your support and advocacy on behalf of the flats fishery. From the Florida Keys to Grand Bahama Island, from the Yucatán Peninsula to the Everglades, we look forward to all we will accomplish together in 2020 in pursuit our mission to conserve bonefish, tarpon, permit, and their habitats in Florida and beyond.
Best wishes for the holidays,
Chairman of the Board
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust