The Department of Marine Resources is proposing new flats fishing legislation that will adversely affect our economy if the new bill is anything like the draft legislation. The draft legislation caused panic in the fly fishing industry among fisherman, guides, lodges, hotels, guest houses, second-home owners, rental home owners, and other industry partners because it has been seen as anti-foreign and seeks to greatly limit our visitor’s ability to fish without a guide. It has left our much-valued visitors feeling unwelcomed in The Bahamas.
Many second-homeowners have said they will leave if the law goes into effect. That would be disastrous for the real estate sector. As the draft was written it would also prevent foreigners from owning lodges. Restricting foreign investment would also be disastrous for the real estate sector.
Many fisherman come to Abaco with their families, or as a group, anglers visit exclusively for fishing. They either fish with a guide or fish on their own. They stay at lodges, hotels, or private rental homes. While they are visiting money is spent throughout the entire Abaco economy on direct expenditures like lodging, car rental, taxis, ferries, food, alcohol, restaurants, guides, boat rentals, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, souvenir shops, jewelry stores, artists, gasoline, taxes, and even doctor visits and prescriptions for emergency medical care.
There are many other persons within our community that also benefit directly from these same fisherman through indirect expenditures like web designers, advertising sources, auto repair shops, tire shops, marine stores, boat mechanics, housekeepers, caretakers, maintenance workers, gardeners, hardware stores, home goods suppliers, waiters, cooks, and even all of the utility companies.
Essentially, our entire community benefits from the influx of revenue from our flats fishing visitors. According to an economic study done in 2010 flats fishing brings 141 million dollars into the Bahamas annually. Abaco generates 21 million dollars of that revenue. Our island cannot afford to lose this revenue during these tough economic times because of panic in the fly fishing sector. Many fisherman have promised to boycott the Bahamas if this legislation is approved in its present form and some of our second-homeowners have promised to move away. We cannot let that happen!
The draft legislation stunned the fishing world. Since then input was received from the fishing community and industry partners during two brief consultation meetings conducted by DMR and via hundreds upon hundreds of letters that were sent to the government over a nine day consultation period. The legislation is currently being drafted by the Attorney General’s office.
At the present time, nobody knows what will actually be in the Bill when it is presented to Cabinet for debate.
You can help by becoming a supporting member of the Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association. Your $10 membership donation will show that you support the AFFGA opposition against the legislation. AFFGA’s international membership is strong but we also need the support of Abaconions and Bahamians throughout the country. Bahamian membership will speak loudly as they lobby Cabinet members to vote NO on the fly fishing bill in hopes of stopping it from being tabled in Parliament.
Please visit www.affga.org for more information and to become a member via PayPal or you can become a member locally by direct deposit at any ScotiaBank, for credit to: Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association, Account #61085-13167. Please report direct deposits to firstname.lastname@example.org or Cindy Pinder at 242-577-7612 so that you may be added to the membership roster.