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Florida anglers help stop proposed China-Bahamas deal

Outcry from Florida anglers helps stop China-Bahamas fishing deal

A plan that would have basically given China fishing rights in the Bahamas died a quick death thanks to an outpouring of criticism, both in the island nation and from Florida anglers.

On Nov. 1, the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported that the Bahamian embassy in China was pursuing a deal to have China pay the Bahamas $2.1 billion over 10 years for considerations that included vastly expanded commercial fishing in Bahamian waters.

The outcry was so loud and sustained that on Nov. 23, the Nassau Tribune newspaper quoted Prime Minister Perry Christie as saying to the House of Assembly, "The government of the Bahamas did not agree to any such proposition, did not consider any such proposition, it did not come before the government as a proposal, and it would not have reached the government because it would have been rejected outright."

"It's politics," said Capt. Tony DiGiulian of Christie's comments. "Who knows what was the real story. Whatever he wants to say is fine, he can use it for whatever political reason he wants, we're just happy it's going away for now."

DiGiulian, of Fort Lauderdale, has fished throughout the world, is involved with numerous conservation organizations and has fought to protect fish populations.

He said this deal would have likely seen "a fleet of long-line boats and purse seiners" working Bahamas' offshore waters and negatively affecting the fishing not only in that country but also in Florida. In addition, South Florida recreational anglers would probably stop traveling by boat to the Bahamas, which is itself a considerable source of revenue.

DiGiulian was tireless in encouraging his fellow anglers to complain about the deal to the Bahamian government, and it made a difference according to his friend and member of Parliament Loretta Butler-Turner of Long Island.

"She said Bahamians are very thankful for the Americans having their back. She made that point to me several times," DiGiulian said.

"We were immediately on top of it and fishermen like myself, Bouncer Smith, Eric Brandon [of the Weekly Fisherman radio show] on Facebook … I know for a fact they were overwhelmed with emails, phone calls and faxes and that had something to do with them stepping it back."

DiGiulian added that Butler-Turner said even Bahamian fishermen who would have benefitted from the deal were "all adamantly against it."

Fish of the week

Conner D'Orio caught a 5.87-pounder Friday fishing with his father, Joe, to win the One Largemouth Bass Tournament held by the Everglades Bassmasters of South Florida out of the mile marker 35 boat ramps on Alligator Alley. D'Orio caught the fish on a 13-inch plastic worm.

Capt. Alan Zaremba of Hollywood said that despite high water levels in Everglades canals, small largemouth bass and oscars were biting hard jerkbaits and ribbontail worms. Fishing was better in urban canals, where largemouths, peacock bass and snook were "attacking hard jerkbaits worked very aggressively or trolled at a fast speed, especially around bridge pilings or docks and along points."

Richard and Patty Dunn of Largo caught 26 peacocks up to 5 pounds, 11 largemouths up to 3 pounds, a chain pickerel, five oscars and some Mayan cichlids in two days of fishing with Zaremba in the C-100 Canal in Kendall and in the L-29 along Tamiami Trail and in the nearby L-28.

Steve Witz of Coconut Creek and his friend Bill of Palm Beach caught six peacocks on a morning trip in the C-8 in Miami Lakes. Ron Dimbert of Overland Park, Kan., caught 10 peacocks up to 2 pounds, three largemouths and a 4-pound snook on a morning trip in the C-9 in Miami Gardens. Lance Benson of Miami caught 13 largemouths up to 2 pounds on a half-day trip in the L-29 and L-67C.

Kyle Shea's Shea-D-Lady caught a 135-pounder Nov. 19 to win the annual Dirty Bird Swordfish Tournament and also boated a 78-pounder to take third place. Dats' Nasty was second at 121.5. Stalker was fourth at 70 followed by Crystal Dawn at 68.; Twitter @WatersOutdoors

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