Fly Fishing on the Falkland Islands
  • © fly fishing with Mauritia 2023 0

Falkland Islands Fly.Fishing

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Traveling to the Falkland Islands as a fly fisher, your radius of movement will most certainly be limited to West and East Falkland.
This will make you somewhat of an "exotic creature“.
For most tourists the major point of attraction is the area around the approx. 200 close by islands, where – not unlike Galapagos – a nearly untamed wildlife has been preserved. To name just a few examples:

  • four penguin species
  • marine mammals such as seals, elephant seals and sea lions, dolphins, orcas and whales.
  • birds of prey, geese and very extraordinary bird species such as the black-browed albatross, which can reach over 50 years of age and of which 70% of the worlds population call the Falkland Islands their home

Should you ever feel like laying your rod aside for a while, be sure to plan additional time to visit one of these unique places!
When the publisher of the well-known "Lonely Planet" travel guide stayed on one of the islands a few years ago, he recalled his impressions as the most touching and beautiful he had ever experienced.
For an expert who calls the world his home, that is quite something to say.
It is only on these small islands that fauna and flora have been able to survive the way they have been since prehistoric times. On the two main islands, many plants and birds were drastically decimated by animals such as cats and rats brought in by settlers, and – of course – sheep farming.
For example, you can find the unique Tussock grass no where else but here. It grows in high bushes, essential for the protection of ground-breeding animals.
However, it is not the biodiversity which characterizes this habitat, but the sheer mass of colonies. Proportionally there are more animal populations here than anywhere else in the world.
Penguin, birds and marine mammals are almost not timid and their serenity in spite of the presence of humans is astonishing.
But regrettably it has only been recently that these animals stopped living in fear from our kind.
It was with great care and responsibility that the Falkland Islanders constructed lodging options on the most important of the smaller islands - sometimes also offering full board. From there you can start exploring, expedition- or safari-like, and experience wildlife in harmony with nature.
Transportation to these locations are carried out by FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) propeller planes.

This respectful interaction with nature has not always been a given: The waters around the Falkland Islands and around the Antarctic were and still are a significant indicator of human interference with the biodiversity of the South Atlantic.
The correlation between climatic changes, overfishing and the dependence of the wild life on feeding grounds can be observed particularly well here.
In the 19th and until the beginning of the 20th century, enormous whaling fleets operating in the South Atlantic "catered" their ships on the Falkland Islands with geese, penguin and their eggs. In return, they left horses and cattle in case these would be needed later.
A few numbers to illustrate the huge dimension of this exploitation:
Up to 10,000 skins of slaughtered animals were shipped on a single sealer.
In the 1860s, 600,000 gallons of oil were extracted from 500,000 penguin.
A rockhopper produced about one gallon of oil.
In the middle of the 19th century almost all seals, sea lions, sea leopards and elephant seals on the Falkland Islands were extinct.
This did not stop before the 1880s when there weren't enough animals left to "process“. It was then that man started to think – like we do today when considering what capability of destruction resides in us.

Not all stocks have recovered since then, but large colonies have returned. Plus: The Government of the Falkland Islands takes the protection of wildlife very seriously and is more than aware of their mission.

Today, we no longer ruthlessly slaughter penguin and marine mammals.
However, wildlife faces new threats: global warming, the associated algae growth, overfishing and the effects on feeding grounds.

Krill is the most important component in the food chain of all marine life in the South Atlantic. Without krill, the ecosystem would collapse. Believe it or not: Slipping in a puddle of disgorged or defecated krill on a penguin colony is a good sign. It means that the small crustacean have reached their right target. And that is not commercial fishing. There is a global wrangling over krill stocks in the South Atlantic. Many nations use it – as a soup flavour enhancer, animal food or sausage ingredient. This does not require any further comment.

Over the past few decades CCALMR, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, has been the authority to monitor krill stocks and maintain quota.
But geopolitical influences are shifting and formerly highly committed nations such as the USA or Australia are cutting their budgets. Other powers such as Russia or China appear on stage. In April 2020, a record-breaking project was announced in Shanghai: the construction of the world's largest krill cutter vessel.

Apparently, man’s sense of entitlement has not changed in its essentials since the 19th century – only the targeted objects have become smaller.
You will certainly find it difficult to tear yourself away from the wonderful fishing grounds, but it doesn't take much effort to visit the deeply impressive penguin colonies on East Falkland:
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Only six kilometres outside Stanley you can visit a magellanic Penguin colony at "Gypsy Cove", which by the way is the southernmost occurrence of this species worldwide.
"Gypsy Cove" is well signposted and developed with lots of parking spaces and viewing platforms.
It might look a bit touristic, but like everything on the Falkland Islands it is integrated in a natural reserve area, surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and lined with small bays, all of which are currently being cleared of the last landmines.
Good thing that penguins are too light to set them off…
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To visit a King Penguin colony on East Falkland takes a little more time, but is definitely worth it.

We were picked up by the smart guide Ken "Carrot" Morrison, who took us to "Volunteer Point" in his Land Rover. The local landowner prohibits tourists driving themselves – it is not a good idea anyway. You have to have a lot of local knowledge to find your way around and not get stuck in the swamp.
As a plus I was once again thrilled by the overland trip in an old Defender through the magnificent landscape.

This is nothing compared to your first encounter with the penguins.
To see how they tirelessly look after their brood 24 hours, how they walk kilometres from the nesting site to the open sea, and brace themselves against wind and sandstorms – wonderful.

The Falkland Islands are the northernmost outpost where King Penguins can be found. Terrifyingly, by 1870 they were completely extinct.
Today the stocks have recovered slightly and about 2000 pairs breed on the islands again.

Here you will find the contact details for the driver Ken "Carrot" Morrison.
Alternatively, a helicopter service can be hired to fly out to Volunteer Point.
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We only discovered this colony of Gentoo Penguins by chance on our way to the ferry to West Falkland.
They nest just a few hundred metres from New Haven harbour.

And here too, to respect and protect the birds, you have to keep your distance and not get too close to them.

Around 36% of the estimated 520,000 couples worldwide live in the Falklands and they are widespread around the coastline.
But also these birds went through a lot in the past.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, 70,000 Gentoo Penguin were killed annually by just one schooner. The blubber was purified to make oil. Numbers were further decimated as eggs were taken for food.
A very nice and informative website from the Falkland Conservation about the wildlife of the islands:
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Travel Agents for an islands sightseeing tour planing:
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With the kind support of:

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