Bahamian man holding a silver fish under the water.
Bonefish Bahamas A veteran bonefishing guide releases a small bonefish in his favourite spot near Cat Island, Bahamas. As their name suggests bonefish have a lot of bones are not caught to be eaten, but purely for the sport of the hunt, often caught with fly-fishing tackle and then released. Bonefish are economically important and have been a peg in helping to protect flats and mangroves throughout the region. © Shane Gross

Stories in The Bahamas

Sustainable Fisheries in The Bahamas

Promoting sustainable fisheries practices for community livelihoods and healthy marine ecosystems.

Advocate for Fisheries Sustainable Financing

The island nation of The Bahamas is home to the Caribbean’s largest area of productive shallow water, which holds thriving coral reef ecosystems and unique species of fish, sharks, and marine mammals. These areas support one of the world’s major spiny lobster fisheries and the most important remaining fisheries for Queen Conch and Nassau Grouper in the entire Caribbean.

The Queen Conch fishery alone employs more than 9,000 Bahamian fishers and contributes an estimated US$3-4 million annually to the country’s economy. However, these fisheries are facing significant declines as a result of overfishing, illegal fishing, habitat degradation, and a lack of data and capacity to effectively manage fishery resources—all of which are exacerbated by climate change. In the face of these challenges, The Nature Conservancy has been working across The Bahamas in key fisheries, such as Spiny Lobster and Queen Conch and directly collaborating with local fishing communities to enhance the voices of fishers in decision-making and ensure support for fisheries regulations. 


  • Build Capacity of Marine and Fisheries Enforcement 
  • Build Compliance to combat IUU fishing
  • Strengthen Fisheries Policy
  • Pilot Data Modernization Techniques
  • Advocate for Fisheries Sustainable Financing
  • Pilot solutions for fishing community’s sustainable livlihoods

                    Our Current Work/Projects

Development of an Adaptive Queen Conch Management Plan 

Although Queen Conch is one of the most economically and culturally valuable fisheries in the country, it currently operates with no management plan and very little understanding of the status of the resource, putting the entire fishery and fishing community livelihoods at risk. Over the past three years using the FishPath process and tool, The Nature Conservancy has advanced the understanding of the condition of the data-limited queen conch fishery, run data analyses, engaged fishers in understanding the options for management, involved fishers in data collection to gain buy-in for management measures, and worked closely with government fisheries agencies to set all the pieces in place for a comprehensive Queen Conch management plan.

Under this project, we will focus on integrating fisher and other stakeholder input into a draft Adaptive Queen Conch Management Plan, prior to working with DMR to get formal community input and then finalize it for implementation at national level, in alignment with the Fisheries Act. This would be the very first management plan for conch in the country’s history. The key result will be a Queen Conch Management Plan that applies nationwide across the entire Bahamas and positively impacts all conch harvests across the country.

This work is made possible by funding from The Vibrant Oceans Initiative and The Connery Foundation.

Bahamian Queen Conch Sustainability Project (1:21) We are working with local stakeholders across The Bahamas to make conch fishing a more sustainable practice and empowering Queen Conch fishers to take a more active role in conservation work of this critical species which is central for Bahamian culture and identity.

Expand the use of FishPath

From lessons learned during the implementation of FishPath for Queen Conch and other fisheries around the world, we have developed a suite of tools/apps that makes it easier for stakeholders to develop fisheries management actions (e.g., size limits, bag limits etc.). The Nature Conservancy is implementing  the FishPath process with fisheries stakeholders, local communities, and The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources  to help determine the most  viable management and monitorin options for snapper and grouper species. The key result will be a science-based Action Plan for the Snapper and Grouper fisheries that can be implemented and used as the foundation for a formal Management Plan in collaboration with DMR.

This work is made possible by funding from The Vibrant Oceans Initiative, The Connery Foundation, and The Builders Initiative. 


FishPath Fact Sheet

Setting fisheries in The Bahamas and around the world on a path toward sustainability

two men look at large fish on a cutting table.
On the Cutting Block A critically endangered goliath grouper for sale in Nassau, Bahamas. © Shane Gross

Economic Impact Assessment of fishing industry and Impact of IUU fishing on the Bahamian economy

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) commissioned the updated assesment of the economic impact of current recreational and commercial fishing in The Bahamas and the assessment of the economic impact from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) that occurs within The Bahamas Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It is hoped that this picture of the value chain and subsequent calculations of the economic harm that IUU fishing has on the Bahamian economy can be used to advocate for better monitoring, control and surveillance measures to enhance sustainability and advocate for the increased fiscal support to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Marine Resources for the management and monitoring of marine resources.

Including both recreational and commercial fishing in the economic impact total shows fishing supports 26,917 jobs and generates $544.2 million in income, $1.2 billion in value-added (contribution to GDP) and $2.2 billion in total sales. Of this total commercial fishing contributes 5.1% and recreational fishing contributes 14.9% to Bahamian GDP. Combined across both sectors, the entire fisheries value chain contributes 20% to the Bahamian GDP.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) is much more than just fish stolen by foreign nationals. It includes legal catches that go unreported, including recreational fishing and subsistence fishing in The Bahamas case, and harvests that are unregulated. IUU does harm to the stocks and to Bahamian livelihoods. When fish are removed outside of any harvest control rules or other management measures, they deplete the stocks and impinge future productivity (MRGA 2008 among others). The analysis estimates spiny lobster IUU harvests at 4.1 million pounds of tails. The two largest of these categories were IUU l harvests by foreign vessels and Bahamians, respectively, totaling 2.7 million pounds of tails worth $45.1 million dollars. If those two highest categories of IUU landings were landed in The Bahamas legally, they would support 1,523 jobs and increase GDP by an additional $65.4 million.

This work is made possible by funding from The Vibrant Oceans Initiative and The Builders Initiative.

a flying fish stuck in a drift fishing net.
Flight Loss A flying fish caught in a driftnet in the open ocean. © Shane Gross

Marine Action Partnership ( MAP)

In The Bahamas today, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, including foreign and domestic poaching, are widespread and pose a myriad of threats to the ocean, the fishing industry and communities throughout the country. Not only are livelihoods, households and local economies put at risk, but a decline in marine species populations threatens the balance necessary for the survival of ecosystems such as coral reefs. The MAP for Sustainable Fisheries is a collaborative multiyear and multiagency approach to improve the capacity for marine enforcement in the country.  Partners of the MAP include The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources, The Ministry of Agriculture and Maine Resources, The Ministry of National Security, The Royal Bahamas Police force, Customs, Immigration, The Royal Bahamas Defense Force, WildAid, The National Fishers Association and other fishing associations. 

This work is made possible by funding from The Vibrant Oceans Initiative. 


MAP for Sustainable Fisheries

A collaborative approach to sustainable fishing in The Bahamas through marine management and regulation compliance

MAP Bahamas (4:41) The MAP for Sustainable Fisheries is a collaborative multiyear and multiagency approach to improve the capacity for marine enforcement in the country.

Sustainable Livelihoods

In partnership with local communities The Nature Conservancy seeks to assess the viability of new and emerging fisheries to aid in sustainable fisheries and livelihoods. This initiative also seeks to work with local communities in and near MPA’s to assess opportunities for sustainable employment and blue economy enterprises.

This work is made possible by funding from The Builders Initiative.

Past Projects