Economic Valuation Study
The Bahamas is known as one of the world’s premier flats fishing destinations. Anglers travel from around the globe to hunt the crystal clear shallows of The Bahamas seeking the elusive bonefish, known as the “Grey Ghost of the Flats.” Despite this area’s popularity among anglers, a clear understanding of bonefish biology, the importance of the flats fishing culture to Bahamians, and the economic value of the Bahamian flats fishery has remained as elusive as the “Grey Ghost” itself.
To determine the economic impact of the bonefishing industry to The Bahamas, the Bahamas Initiative (BI) commissioned an in-depth study, which found:
- Flats fishing generates $141 million of economic value to the Bahamian economy each year
- The economic value of flats fishing is approximately 11% lower in recent years due to global recession
- Nearly 11% of all visitors to the Bahamas spent some part of their visit fishing in 2008
- Flats and offshore fishing accounts for 20% of all recreational expenditures in The Bahamas
- Anglers spend 27% more per visit than non-angler visitors
- Direct expenditures for flats fishing activities supports the equivalent of 2500 Bahamian jobs
- Over 300 flats fishing guides were identified in the study, 71% of whom were actively guiding in 2009
This study shows recreational flats fishing in The Bahamas plays a large and important role in the economy of The Bahamas. This fishery and its associated economy can be maintained through good conservation of coastal habitats, water quality, and protection of fish populations.
The results of this study provide strong evidence of the need for responsible conservation and management of this vitally important cultural resource. With responsible conservation and management, this fishery can continue to be an important economic engine for The Bahamas, especially on the Family Islands, where the bonefish fishery is both economically and culturally important.
The study “The Economic Impact of Flats Fishing in The Bahamas” was funded by the Bahamas Initiative— a partnership of the Bahamas National Trust, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, the Cape Eleuthera Institute, and the Fisheries Conservation Foundation. The BI commissioned the study as an important first step in demonstrating to local communities and resource management agencies the need to protect the flats ecosystems that support an important part of the Bahamian economy.