I am writing to you today because so many of you have asked how you can help. We need your help and this is our call for action!
As you are aware, Prescott Smith is the president of the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association. We believe he, and some of his supporters on the board of the BFFIA, are the primary authors of the draconian fly fishing draft legislation that is exclusionary to most of the bonefishing sector’s visitors, clients, and our global partners that has caused so much panic in the flats fishing industry.
We had hoped that new leadership would be the end result of voting for board members at the BFFIA Annual General Meeting on June 25th, 2015 as the BFFIA was originally intended to be a true industry association that included all stakeholders. Our contention is that all of the members from Abaco and Grand Bahama, as well as members from other islands, in all, more than half of the registered voting members of the BFFIA, were denied an opportunity to vote at the AGM. At this time, the BFFIA only represents a few guides and lodge owners and has lost the trust and respect of most of the industry and many of its own members.
Unfortunately, the BFFIA was deemed the industry’s governing body on July 13th, 2015 at the consultation meeting. In spite of objections (because the AFFGA does not recognize them as the voice of the industry due to members not having an opportunity to vote) the election results from the BFFIA AGM will be accepted, “Until someone can show me that something contrary to that took place, we accept the results of the election.”
Prescott Smith publicly stated in a Tribune article July 14th, 2015 that, “I feel that the Association should get a considerable portion of it (the funds from the sale of fishing licenses earmarked in the draft for a ‘Conservation Fund’) because of the task of training new guides, educational programs in the school, restoration of creeks, improving the marine environment and lots of education for guides, anglers and the general Bahamian population as well, and bringing to light the fact that the industry is so much more than the guides and the lodges.”
It is the contention of the AFFGA that Prescott Smith, under the guise of the BFFIA, should not have control of any funds associated with the proposed “Conservation Fund” nor have anything to do with training guides or dictating the qualifications for guiding. Furthermore, leadership of an association that unscrupulously excludes members from voting, and excludes entire segments of the sector that it is tasked to represent, is unfit for the job.
The Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association is asking you to join our Bahamian registered Non-profit organization as a supporting member. Each member will count as a vote of opposition against the BFFIA. Your donation will be used for legal fees and travel expenses to Nassau as we move forward with litigation necessitated by the elevated status of the BFFIA.
Our goal is to register as many supportive members over the next 9 days as there where letters sent to the Government in the 9 days allotted for consultation. Please help us show the Government that we are a strong voice to be reckoned with in the industry.
If you feel as strongly as we do, that Prescott Smith must be stopped from further destruction of our beloved fishery and in no way represents your interests in the fly fishing industry please visit http://www.affga.org/ and join right now. A one year Membership is $10 but you may donate any amount you wish.
As an update, the next step is for the Attorney General’s office to craft the new legislation which will be referred to as the “Clean Bill.” This bill will be debated by the 19 Cabinet Members that make up the Executive Branch of the Bahamas Government. If the bill makes it out of Cabinet it will be tabled in Parliament for a vote to determine if the Bill will become law.
As we move forward the AFFGA will meet with Cabinet Members and Members of Parliament to share our position, as well as the strength of our supporters, so that they may make an informed contribution while debating the Clean Bill when it gets to Cabinet. I am sure you will agree this issue is too important to ignore and that we must not let Prescott Smith continue making policy, which negatively affects all of us, unopposed.