The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources made the announcement on Friday, January 6 2017 advising the public that the new regulations governing fly fishing will come into effect on Monday, January 9, 2017. The announcement noted that “all persons above the age of twelve who wish to engage in …
Most Bahamians are unaware of new government regulations that will be effective on January 9, 2017. The Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association would like to share our thoughts with the public regarding the flats fishing regulation.
In response to what they feel as moves by a “completely unacceptable” regulatory body (the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association [BFFIA]), the Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association (AFFGA) formally requested that the Department of Marine Resources to abandon installing the BFFIA as the regulators for the entire industry.
The island nation of the Bahamas boasts the largest saltwater flats in the entire Caribbean, reputedly ten times larger than those of Mexico. Countless celebrated saltwater species—including bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook, crabs, shrimp, and lobster—call these flats home. Protecting the future of these flats in perpetuity is, unsurprisingly, of paramount importance to interested stakeholders, who include Bahamian fishing guides and lodge owners, governmental officials, and all other citizens who benefit from the nation’s sporting tourism.
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.
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.
It feels that there are people influencing policy that are either intentionally destroying the economy or are, in fact, too stupid to be held accountable for their missteps. I am not sure which option is sadder. I know that whichever it is, though, is indeed baffling.
Flyfishing enthusiasts and professionals are outraged concerning proposed new legislation for the industry. Though some agree that there are certain points of the new law that could be beneficial, the majority of industry stakeholders, including the Abaco’s Fly Fishing Guides Association (AFFGA), agree that if the laws are implemented as they are written it would be devastating to the industry.