Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Jul 15, 2013

Trouble (& Solutions) in Paradise

While I was born and grew up in Jamaica, I took residence in the Cayman Islands in 1999 and have enjoyed living here ever since. The main island of Grand Cayman, where I live, has incredible scuba diving, outstanding fishing opportunities and is home to the world-renowned Stingray City. However, even paradise has its share of problems.

In 2012 we had a terrible year for wildlife: the lionfish invasion continued, the Turtle Farm and its inhabitants got a log of bad press, our beloved stingrays were being stolen from the sandbar, a rogue male dolphin ruined many dives for visitors, the grouper spawning sites came under increasing pressure and a proposal to expand marine parks had many objectors. When its difficult to manage the natural resources of a tiny island nation, it puts into perspective the challenges that we have trying to keep the planet healthy and sustainable. Here, as with the rest of the world, there are some easy solutions for some issues and complicated solutions for others. In Cayman, lionfish have become the target of dedicated hunting tournaments as weekly culling sweeps by divers and concerned individuals. We’re seeing these types of eradication methods being employed in Florida, the Gulf Coast, the Bahamas, and all over the Caribbean. The best part is that lionfish are very good to eat. I encourage restaurant owners to offer lionfish on the menu and advertise just how good they are to eat.

Guy Harvey after a Little Cayman Lionfish sweep

In Cayman, our marine park system has served us very well for the last 26 years. Compared to all other Caribbean countries we have some of the finest shallow snorkeling sites and wall dives anywhere. However, with double the population since then and more demand on marine resources, there is not going to be much left in the next 10 year at the current rate of fish extraction.Expansion of the park system and better enforcement will continue to conserve our best ecological asset. The issues of marine parks, better known worldwide as Marine Life Protection Areas (MLPAs), is as controversial in the Cayman Islands as it is in the United States.

SPAG - Cayman Islands

In Cayman, the distinction between commercial and recreational fishing is very fuzzy. There is no doubt that the need for NTZs is a must in our situation, and new studies will show the importance of SPAG sites not seasonally but all year round. One example in which the NTZs is a must is in the protection of the Nassau Grouper spawning (SPAG) site in Little Cayman. The Marine Conservation Board took appropriate action and extended the ban on fishing the SPAG sites for another eight years in December 2011. The protection of the brood stock, the “investment”, during spawning season is common sense here, as well as in the all corners of our oceans. Allowing any kind of harvest-be it recreational or commercial- at a spawning site is recipe for disaster and truly killing the golden goose.

Unfortunately, the proposed legislation to protect Nasssau Groupers throughout their range during the five-month spawning season still languishes in cyberspace. One of the biggest hurdles we all face is the education of lawmakers about the importance of the marine environment to this small island’s economy. As with any protection-here or in the rest of the world-its’s imperative for grassroots groups to keep the pressure on government so that our recreational resources will not be depleted by those seeking to make a profit. It is our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of this planet

Fish responsibly and dive safely wherever you live,

Guy Harvey,PhD

Jun 19, 2013

Atlantic Tuna Project – 5 Days in Panama

John LoGioco with a Panama Yellowfin

The Atlantic Tuna Project’s John LoGioco recently returned from a tuna tagging project out of Panama Sportfishing lodge. In a short time span of five days, John and his team of six Atlantic Tuna Project anglers were able to successfully tag over 75 Yellowfin tuna! The quality of fish ranged from smaller grade 20lb tuna all the way up to cow 200lb class tuna.

Described as the best fishing any of his team has ever experienced, they were able to surpass their goal total for tags placed by a tremendous amount. To put this accomplishment in perspective 12 anglers in 2011 tagged 56 Yellowfin tuna, and last year 12 anglers were able to tag 27 yellowfin tuna. Prior to this trip, the team already had 3 tags recovered from these previous Panama trips. The tuna originally tagged in Panama were found in Equador, Costa Rica, and Southern Panama. With the additional 75 deployed tags they are looking forward to more recaptures to come.

Taking measurements with tag in place

John and team experienced a bit of weather as it was the beginning of the rainy season. Everyday they experienced rain and at times torrential thunder storm cells passing over South American toward Panama. However, the cloud cover and stormy weather seemed to get the fish active and willing to bite as they experienced fast and furious fishing from the get go. The captains targeted porpose and bird schools that would bring with them maurading Yellowfin tuna. Once an active school was found busting on blue runners, they would run & gun with poppers and jigs that would get instantly hit by tuna. The fishing never slowed down the five days of their stay and they kept on getting bigger! The team would have doubles and triples of 75-100lb tuna going as they fought through rain squalls, thunderstorms, and spots of sunshine.

Scott Kozak Releases Tagged Fish

This being the third year that the Atlantic Tuna Project members have been to the Panama Sport Fishing Lodge, the captains and mates are thoroughly experienced with how to properly tag fish. Boats are tagging machines as anglers, mates, and captains work together as a team. Each fish was carefully fought, tagged, and released. The method found to work best is to bring the tuna close to the boat, tag the fish in the water, then lift into the tuna into the boat and cover it’s eyes with a wet towel that renders the fish motionless. While this is taking place, meticulous measurements and records of each fish are logged by a team member. At the end of the trip, the ATP accomplished many goals: beat personal bests, beat previous Panama tagging efforts, and exceed their original goal of 50 tags deployed.

May 23, 2013

Fishing Ain’t Just About Catching

Black Marlin - Panama
A few months ago I was looking up the current black marlin woman’s world record on 50 pound for a customer. I opened the “IGFA World Record Game Fishes” from the shelf on my desk. I opened the book to the marlin record pages, and Mike Levitt’s 737lb 7oz. Black Marlin world record on 12 pound in 1981 caught my eye. I knew exactly when that happened and memories flooded in.

That was the year of IGFA’s President’s, E.K. Harry’s big mistake, when he changed IGFA rules on the length of leaders to 30 feet on all classes. He was responding to a bunch of lazy charter boat captains who found it too hard to keep track of leaders of 15 and 30 feet in length.

Elwood shortened up the double line and leader combined length, but in so doing doubled the allowable leader length on light line. Mike Levitt and Capt. Paul Whelan had set a record that still stands and may not ever be beaten because the rules were changed again, after that one year.

Laurie Wright and the late Doug Haig were my crew. We made a deal with Al Hooper. We used his little trawler yacht, “Cheryl Ann” as a mother boat and fished double or nothing for a world record on 6 or 12 pound line. Al would pay nothing if we failed to get a record and double if we did. Laurie, Doug and I, and the boat owner, went all in for the deal.

With all that much leader we got our chances. We had several 700 pounders on the wire. We broke several leaders and had one jump through, and break the outrigger halyards. At one point Al offered to pay for the whole charter, but not double, if we would let him switch to 30 pound line.

We turned him down and lost the bet! He paid for all our fuel and gave us all a nice tip. None of us will ever forget those two weeks of crazy fishing! The next year the IGFA changed the leader length back for the lightest line classes.

It’s funny that a trip in which we were not successful was one of the best and most fun we ever had! I will never ever forget the details of that trip

Good Fishing,
Peter B

Apr 1, 2013

PNAS – Illustratring the Oceans

Illustrating the Oceans

Growing up on the tropical island of Jamaica, it’s not surprising that Guy Harvey developed a love for the sea and fishes early on or that he would choose a career based on their study. However, his passions led him down a decidedly unorthodox path for a fisheries biologist.

Harvey built a marine art empire that has put shirts depicting marlins, sharks, and other open water dwellers on countless backs. In the process, he reveals glimpses of what is, to most, an unseen world, and raises millions of dollars for conservation and research efforts.

Harvey discovered his skill for scientific illustration as an undergraduate before beginning a PhD in fisheries ecology at the University of the West Indies. He formally studied herrings, but volunteer work cataloging data about contestants’ catches at local fishing tournaments would prove to be the more life-transforming experience.

A tournament friend introduced Harvey to a Florida apparel company owner who thought some of Harvey’s drawings depicting Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, would look good on T-shirts. Thus, in 1986, the Guy Harvey brand was born, which was the same year he received his PhD.

Harvey left a University of the West Indies fisheries faculty position in 1988 to build a marine art company that now includes a full range of clothing, as well as restaurants and other projects, although T-shirts are still the most popular displays of his work. “The art has been useful in portraying aspects of the natural history of fish such as billfish, tunas, and large sharks that traditionally have been hard to access,” he says.

Harvey never lost interest in formal research and donates a percentage of his profits to conservation and science. Funding supports the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and Harvey also partners with more than a dozen other institutions through the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

In some cases, Harvey assists with fieldwork, for instance, satellite tagging billfish off the coast of Mexico, and working on marine life documentaries. “There’s so much to learn about these animals,” he says, “I feel like we’ve just dented the really interesting stuff.”

Mar 26, 2013

Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA)

AFTCO is a proud supporter of the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association. The MBARA was formed in January of 1997 and has since deployed over 200 artificial reefs. The mission of the MBARA is the conservation and environmental improvement of natural and artificial marine reef systems in the Gulf of Mexico near Mexico Beach, Florida.

Reef Building

The MBARA works hard to construct artificial reef habitat to enhance sustainable fisheries in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The MBARA set a milestone of establishing 1000 patch reefs, or small artificial reef habitats in the waters off Mexico Beach, Florida. The MBARA works closely with the City of Mexico Beach, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commision, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers to achieve this goal.

Constructing Reef Habitat

Artificial Reef Deployment

Reef Education

Since its inception, the MBARA has worked hard to conduct and promote scientific research and evaluation of reef designs, biomass development, and fish productions. A focus for the MBARA has been the education of the public about the values of sustainable artificial reef fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, and the impact they have on the ecosystems and coastal communities where they are built. School children, members of the organization, and the general public need to know all about reefs and reef building in order to help promote conservation and environmental improvement of the marine reef systems.

MBARA Artificial Reef Underwater

Mar 20, 2013

Puerto Rico Estuary Clean Up

Below is a summary of the Mega Limpieza in Puerto Rico. Proudly sponsored by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, 500 volunteers managed to clean up over 28,000 pounds of litter and waste that has collected in the lagoons and estuaries of San Juan Bay Puerto Rico. These mangrove lined lagoons are home to some of the richest inland fisheries on the island. This clean up effort was the result of a blog written by our good friend Doug Olander, editor of Sport Fishing Magazine.

—Bill Shedd

 Mega Limpieza – San Juan Bay, Puerto Rico

The “Mega Limpieza” (translated Mega Clean Up) , took place March 16, 2013 in the lagoons and estuaries of San Juan Bay in Puerto Rico. San Juan Bay offers up world class fishing, especially those looking to chase trophy Tarpon. Also home to the lagoons and estuaries are beautiful herons and ospreys that constantly fly overhead to make a bird watcher’s paradise.

However, amidst the prime fishery and lush environment lies ugly scenes of littered trash tucked into the mangroves. Some of the trash was dumped by locals, but much of it is estimated to drift in from the rivers that flow into the estuary and lagoon from highlands to the South. Poor waste disposal and plain carelessness resulted in the creation of a mess that could deteriorate a unique and special estuary.

Volunteers display their catch, of a different sort.

Over 500 volunteers participated in the Mega Limpieza, picking up over 28,000 pounds of trash and debris from San Juan Bay this past Saturday. Volunteer campaigns were organized by Israel Umpierre’s Pesca, Playa, and Ambiente Group & Jose Aponte’s Kayakeros Association of Kayakers. Both  Umpierre and Aponte decided to take action after reading a column by Doug Olander in Sport Fishing Magazine.

Kayakers on the shore after their work was done -- see their work behind them.

The clean up efforts were sponsored in part by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to support the good cause. Once backed by the GHOF the Mega Limpieza took own a movement of more sponsors, volunteers and government officials signed up to help.

The Mega Limpieza drew big attention. Two members of Puerto Rico’s executive branch were on hand for the entire clean up. The clean up efforts were also televised by Univision, Telemundo, and Pescando en Los Cayos, the only spanish language fishing show in the U.S.

After kayakers in the mangroves filled up bags, these were picked up by motorboats operated by tarpon fishing captains.

 

Mar 13, 2013

Keep It Practical

Bendo on the Bow

It was a rough day with wind driven spray. Even at trolling speed the tower leg was coated with a film of salt water and my hands became wet while climbing back into the tower after fighting a marlin from the bridge control station.  As I picked up the VHF radio’s microphone to call in the tag and release to the committee boat the radio jumped back to channel 16. I spun the dial back to the tournament channel and tried again with the same result. Not until the third failed attempt to contact the committee boat did I realize what was going wrong.

The new radio I had recently had installed had a feature that seemed logical to some electronic tech-head but was a major hassle to me in the real world. The radio was designed to automatically switch back to emergency and stand-by channel #16 when placed into its metal holder. Unfortunately, I could not hold the radio in one wet hand without changing away from the channel I was supposed to use for tournament communications. We cut the wire which activated the unwanted feature and the radio worked just fine on whatever channel I chose. I do the same thing for microphones with key pads and buttons that switch channels up or down. They may work well on big yachts, but in rough water on fishing boats they are a nuisance.

That night over an evening cocktail we had a discussion of several ideas which had looked good on paper but were an inconvenience or even a real nuisance to boatmen who actually went to sea in less than perfect conditions. Here are a few…

I really dislike modern towers where form has interfered with function. (I almost always STAY in the tower to get the enhanced vision the extra height gives me.) To create a stylish look many towers have back legs/ladders so close to vertical it is dangerous to attempt to climb them in a choppy sea or at cruising speed.

Equally bad is the tendency to have supports for the Bimini top/sun shade that angle fashionably inboard to follow the line of the front tower leg supports. It is impossible to get comfortably wedged into a corner of the padded belly rail in rough weather without being beaten to a pulp by the un-padded aluminum of the sun shade supports (and the majority of new towers won’t allow you to get wedged in a corner and still reach both reach the steering wheel and the control levers.)

The seats with back rests that are common in today’s towers are a great spot for the owner’s kids to sit looking ahead and drinking a coke in calm water, but make watching trolling baits or seeing what is going on in the cockpit when fighting a fish almost impossible. I rarely see a tower these days I would allow on any boat that I had to run and fish competitively!

Badly designed flying bridges are also far too common on new boats. I was on a “sport fishing” boat that cost several million dollars, from a highly respected custom builder, with a helm station that did not only NOT allow me to see the angler in the fighting chair, I could not see any part of the fore deck while attempting to dock the boat. (When the mate stood as far forward as possible on the bow I could barely see the belt buckle at his waist!)

Yacht captains may be used to running back and forth across their flying bridge as they carefully approach dock but I find that unacceptable in a sport fishing boat. (“Wait a minute and hold still Mr. Marlin while I run over here and see where my angler is right now!” -Fat chance!)

I need to at least be able to see down to the angler’s waist to see what the spool of the reel is doing so I can properly maneuver the boat to help, rather than hinder, my angler.

Cockpit controls can help but should not be placed where an off balance guest can inadvertently pull or push them. (One big advantage of the new electronic controls is that they only function after being activated and assuming command at the designated station, thereby eliminating sudden changes when a control lever is used as a grab rail!)

The new fashionable look in modern sport fishing circles of vessels without a bow rail is also just plain dumb! You may not plan on anchoring (no bottom fishing?) but if you ever have to (especially in rough weather) the owner or designer or builder is ASKING for a law suit  if the passenger or crew setting the anchor falls overboard or gets hurt -and every boat that doesn’t spend ALL its time in dry dock or a marina will at some time have a problem requiring that an anchor be set!

Also, if you are ever going to live aboard or spend a weekend offshore forget about having all the towels exactly the same. Monograms are fine but let’s have several colors so everyone can know which towel is theirs and hang it up to dry and allow at least a couple of days use. (More towel racks please!!!)

Good Luck,

– Peter B

Feb 22, 2013

Yellowfin Tuna Tagging in Panama

Atlantic Tuna Project

Three tags deployed by members of the Atlantic Tuna Project in yellowfin tuna have been re-captured in the Pacific ocean.  The yellowfin tuna were tagged with conventional tags from The Billfish Foundation on dedicated catch, tag and release trips from the Panama Sportfishing Lodge in Chiriqui Panama.  The first recapture was originally tagged on April 9th, 2011 and recaptured on September 3rd, 2011 by a purse seiner off the coast of Costa Rica.   The second recapture was originally tagged on March 1st 2012 near Hannibal Bank and was recaptured in Southern Panama offshore of Los Santos on September 4th, 2012 by a recreational charter boat.  The third re-capture was originally tagged near Hannibal Bank in Panama on March 1st, 2012 and re-captured on May 18th, 2012 some 700 miles South off the coast of Equador by a private angler.  All three yellowfin were school size in the 40 inch range.

John LoGioco, founder of the Atlantic Tuna Project says “This is very exciting.  This represents a ~4% return rate for our efforts.  Personally I thought it would take a lot more tags to be deployed before we would see a return in this part of the Pacific ocean.  The benefits here are two fold, first it’s wonderful to see anglers enjoying a great fishing adventure on a catch, tag and release format, second the data retrieved from these returns is incredibly valuable to further understanding the habits of yellowfin tuna in this region.

Sportfishing is an important activity for Panama as a country, and yellowfin tuna are a main attraction.  This is one of largest directed efforts for recreational anglers directed at tagging yellowfin tuna in this region and it’s wonderful to see tags being returned.  The catch, tag and release culture for both billfish and tuna is critical for the long-term sustainability of the fishery.  The Billfish Foundation works with the Panamanian government as well as on the water efforts like the Atlantic Tuna Project to further protect this valuable fishery.

The anglers, who originally tag the tuna, also get notification of the re-capture and a certificate of their achievement. An Atlantic Tuna Project member who had one of his yellowfin recaptured says; “It’s incredibly rewarding to see a tag that I deployed come back.  It’s a great feeling to catch and release these tuna and to also know that my efforts could help better understand these great fish is amazing.  It’s a highlight of my angling career.”

Founded in 2009, The Atlantic Tuna Project is a community dedicated to facilitating catch, tag and release of offshore species such as Atlantic and Pacific tunas, billfish and sharks.  The web site, www.savethebluefin.com serves as the center of the project where captains and anglers can join and contribute to the conversation about catch, tag and release.

Measuring & Tagging Yellowfin Tuna

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

Jan 30, 2013

Dolphinfish Research Program

Below is a summary of the 2012 Dolphin Research Program. Both Guy Harvey and AFTCO are proud to be official sponsors of the program. It is privately run by Don Hammond of Cooperative Science Services, LLC., and is very important for a better understanding of the dolphin population in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.  If you would like more information on the program please contact Don Hammond at cssllc@bellsouth.net or go to their website at  www.dolphintagging.com 

—Bill Shedd

                                                                                                                                         February 2013

Dolphin Tagging in 2012

The 2012 study of dolphin movements and migrations was assisted by 102 different sports fishing vessels fishing the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Atlantic Coast northward to New Jersey, the Bahamas and Caribbean Sea. The crews of these vessels tagged a total of 1,147 dolphin. While 193 anglers were reported participating in the tagging, the number is significantly higher because most of the participating charter boats do not report the anglers.

A record number of 173 new anglers/boats were signed up to tag dolphin in 2012. Tagging reports showed that of the 102 participating boats, 51 tagged their first dolphin in 2012. Making up half of the fleet tagging dolphin in 2012, these boats accounted for 211 fish or 18 percent of the dolphin tagged and released in 2012.

Similar to fishing where ten percent of the anglers catch 90 percent of the fish, a small portion of the participating boats, 18 percent, tagged the majority of the fish. Eighteen boats reported tagging ten or more dolphin in 2012. The crews of these boats tagged 78 percent, 896 fish, of all fish tagged and released during the year.

Most of these top contributing boats have been tagging for several years. Only four of these top boats entered the program for the first time in 2012. Typically, these boat crews have built an increased interest in the program from recaptures of their fish. They have learned that with a little diligence and effort, they can find out where their fish go. Other motivating factors are a desire to contribute to science and the future well-being of the dolphin stock, a fish they love to catch.

Those small dolphin can be worth as much as $25.00 each if they are tagged and released. Read the article about the top dolphin taggers to learn more.

Tagging activity varied widely among the different zones. Six areas exceeded the average number of fish tagged there since the study began. These areas were south Florida, southern North Carolina below Hatteras, northern Mid-Atlantic Bight, Gulf of Mexico, tropical western North Atlantic, and Caribbean Sea. These areas had from 4 to 56 more fish tagged than their annual average, but their gains did not make up for the losses in other areas. Tagging in the Bahamas exhibited one of the worst declines, falling from its average 131 fish per year to only 13 fish tagged in 2012. Southern South Carolina also showed a similar decline with only 40 fish tagged compared to its annual average of 234 fish tagged. Tagging in the remaining five regions also fell below their annual average. Even though the number of fish tagged in 2012 was not as high as we would like to see, the number still exceeds the annual goal of 1,000 fish.

 

 

 

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com

 

Dec 27, 2012

Rock The Ocean’s “Tortuga Music Fest” to Benefit Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Ocean Conservancy

Nashville, TN — Multi-platinum artist and touring sensation Kenny Chesney is scheduled to be one of the headliners for Rock The Ocean’s inaugural TORTUGA MUSIC FESTIVAL, April 13-14, 2013, presented by Landshark Lager. The two-day music festival produced by HUKA Entertainment, will play host to twenty plus pop, rock and country artists who will perform on three stages, located directly on the beach. Artists to include: Grammy nominated The Avett Brothers, Gary Allan, Grammy nominated Eli Young Band, Gary Clark Jr, Michael Franti & Spearhead, G. Love and Special Sauce, Kip Moore and Sister Hazel. A second headliner and additional artists will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets to go on-sale Saturday, Dec 15 at www.tortugamusicfestival.com .

The sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach will be turned into our oceanfront festival grounds, making Tortuga Fest, a music and ocean lover’s paradise. Fans will enjoy music performances with the sun and stars above, an ocean breeze in the air, and sand under their feet. Local culinary fair, sustainable seafood as well as traditional festival favorites will be served.

In partnership with Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Ocean Conservancy, a one-of-a-kind Conservation Village will be located on site to educate audience members and provide them with the information and tools they need to help conserve the world’s oceans.

Festival creators Rock The Ocean and HUKA Entertainment are thrilled to partner with the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. RTO founder, Chris Stacey said, “in addition to being a world renowned artist, Dr. Guy Harvey is a world-class conservationist. Our team is great at creating amazing concert experiences, and Guy and his team know how to help save the worlds oceans.”

“This is not your average music festival,” stated producer AJ Niland. “This festival will showcase world class talent, with world class amenities on a world class beachfront setting. More importantly, it is a festival with a purpose.”

“We are honored to partner with Rock the Oceans and HUKA Entertainment,” said Dr. Guy Harvey. “Rock the Oceans will raise awareness of marine conservation, while providing us with a memorable music experience.”

Join us April 13-14! Celebrate and conserve the ocean.

 

For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com