In collaboration with Bahamas National Trust and the local community in the East End. Grand Bahama Island, The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has begun restoration of August Creek, blocked by a logging road since the 1950s. This restoration project is the first BTT has undertaken as part of its Bahamas Initiative, a nationwide collaborative effort to conserve the flats fishery. BTT designed a plan to reopen the creek and hired a local contractor to cut three strategic passes through the road. Almost immediately after the passes were completed, several species of fish, including bonefish, began utilizing the newly available habitat.
“Members of the East End fishing community have long lamented the loss of the upper reaches of August Creek,” said BTT’s Director of Science and Conservation Dr. Aaron Adams. “This strong local support made it easy to focus on this site as the first habitat restoration project. And, importantly, from an evaluation perspective, our research partners have data from this site prior to restoration. So as we gather data in the coming months, we’ll be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the project.”
BTT expanded its Bahamas Initiative this year to include a creek restoration component, which seeks to reconnect fragmented mangrove creek systems and restore both tidal flow and fish passage. Mangrove creek systems throughout The Bahamas have been impacted by past development, especially roads, reducing healthy habitat for bonefish. By restoring these fragmented systems, bonefish and other flats species will have greater access to healthy habitat.
“We appreciate our long and productive relationship with Bahamas National Trust and other partners who are concerned about conserving habitats so critical to the fishery,” said Jim McDuffie, BTT’s President and CEO. “This project, which follows years of collaboration aimed at protecting important bonefish habitats, extends our joint efforts to include restoration. This comprehensive focus on habitat bodes well for the future of the flats fishery in the Bahamas.”
With the first restoration project complete, BTT will begin the process of planning and fundraising for restoration on other creeks, contingent upon approval by The Bahamas.