Conservation is important to us. We love what we do, and we want to keep doing it. We’re also in the unique position to be able to educate a broad range of anglers and friends of fish, water, and wild places… because so many people pass through our lodge doors each year. Please consider the long term well being of the fishing environments you visit, and if you discover an organization that interests you, please support them as generously as you can.
THE SEA RUN BROWN TROUT STUDY
RIO GRANDE, TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Tierra del Fuego is home to one of the most renowned sea-run brown trout fisheries in the world—the Río Grande. It’s also one of the most important. Each year trout pushing 30+ pounds return to their birth habitats, a long journey in the arduous cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Along that path they are met with many obstacles.
We at Nervous Waters, have been one of the primary supporters of a comprehensive study that began in 2007, seeking to add clarity to the sea-run trout survival picture.
First Phase: the Study begins – University of Montana
A group of lodges and agents, who for the past 25 years have been dedicated to protecting the sea trout of the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego, commissioned Dr. Jack Stanford and his team of biologists from the University of Montana to conduct a comprehensive study to provide scientific data on:
- The evolution of the fishery
- The size and health of the population
- Potential risks to the population
- To provide management advice and best practices to optimize the resource
- To suggest a sustainable river capacity for foreign and local anglers
Data collected from a remarkable number of fish caught and released during the three year study supports claims that defy exaggeration:
- Rio Grande’s sea-run browns are 14% – 21% heavier than steelhead or Atlantic salmon of the same length.
- Numbers of returning fish haven’t changed and some are 12 years old
- There are, on average, 50,000 – 75,000 adult trout in the river.
- The average size of brown trout in the Rio Grande is over nine pounds.
- One trout in five is over fifteen pounds and one in fifty will be a “puerco del rio” that would tip honest scales between twenty and twenty five pounds.
This phase of the study helped us to understand clearly how many fish are caught and re-caught, how angling affects mortality, and how many fish return from one year to the next.
After the first three years, and much hard work, the sponsors and the University decided that the study should be handed over to a local team of scientists.
Local government representatives, including Secretary of Natural Resources Dr. Nicolas Lucas and Fishing Director Santiago Lesta, took over the initiative to continue studying this incredible resource.
To read more about this stage of the study and the conclusions, click here.
Second Phase: The project now in hands of Local Biologists
In December 2011, fisheries biologists Miguel Casalinuovo and Martín G. Asorey embarked on a new two-year phase of the study to estimate mortality rates stemming from catch-and-release fishing.
Many sea-run specimens were caught using fly rods, with the help of professional fishing guides. Those trout were captured, held, and observed in their natural habitats for 48 hours. Fish were measured, weighted, and tagged in order to estimate post-release mortality. All fish have now been released alive and healthy, implying a short-term mortality rate of 0 percent. As for how these fish fare in the long term, studies are ongoing.
For the upcoming season, biologists will continue collecting data from local guides. Subsequent efforts will include two new modules:
The first refers to the estimated mortality of Sea Trout in the public access area called “El Tropezón”.
The second is an analysis of fish movement using radio-telemetry, which involves catching sea Trout and radio-labeling them on the day of capture. These Sea Trout will be observed in specially prepared cages during the first 48 hours, and thanks to the radio telemetry, biologists will also be able to monitor them via fixed and mobile receivers after being released.
The good news is that, up to now, catch-and-release mortality appears to be so low that its impact on sea-run trout populations remains minimal. Catch and release works, and hand in hand with habitat preservation-is still an effective management tool.
However, the study continues and does our learning. If you are interested in getting involved or helping with a grant or donation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
To learn more and keep updated with the progress of the study, visit the biologists website by clicking here.
Bahamas Conservation Work
Conservation is an important part of what we do. Spending our time and energy on the flats and in the Bahamas we see areas that need attention and do what we can to empower and fund organizations we feel do a great job. From tagging bonefish to fundraising activities we actively participate in organizations we feel are making a difference , through education and conservation. Here are a few organizations we support and hope you will as well.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust – You may recognize them as the sponsor for the Pirates of the Flats series filmed at Abaco Lodge, but this research-based organization does more for our shallow water friends than anyone we know. From education and conservation these guys do it all. They are responsible for the tagging program we participate in at South Andros and Abaco as well as helping us assemble the data we need to help push through conservation-driving legislation here in the Bahamas.
Friends of the Environment – FRIENDS is a local grassroots organization that is focused on preserving and protecting Abaco’s ecosystem. There is no better voice than those of the locals on the ground and we like supporting those that want to protect and educate.
Abaco Pathfinders – while not directly related to the conservation side of things. Pathfinders offers a scholarship program to those that cannot afford the opportunity to leave the islands in search of an education and we are proud to help sponsor them.