By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association's (BFFIA) president yesterday urged the government to "strengthen and not water down" regulations governing the industry.
Prescott Smith told Tribune Business: "The Minister has said that they were going to strengthen the legislation to make sure the illegal operations of mother ships are taken care of, but there are some additional things they need to do to strengthen the legislation and not to water it down. The mother ship issue is one of the core things that could be written with a lot more clarity so people won't use the loophole with regards to mother ship operations."
Renward Wells, minister of agriculture and marine resources, confirmed during his contribution to the 2018/2019 budget debate that the government is considering changes to the controversial fly fishing regulations.
Mr Wells said: "The Ministry is now considering amendments to the flats fishing regulations that will enhance conservation, broaden the entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians and further enhance the economy of The Bahamas.
"We will address the long-standing issue of foreign flats fishing motherships and aircrafts that have been a sore sticking point for all Bahamians engaged in the fly fishing industry."
Mr Smith told Tribune Business: "There's a big difference between a private yacht, which is quite legal, and these mother ship operations. Let's say a person comes on your private yacht and you want me to take you out guiding; I can do that, but if someone has a yacht and they are using it as a floating motel or lodge then they're literally running an illegal business."
He argued that it was important that the government not be defrauded out of revenue, and said: "There are additional things they can add to the legislation that could strengthen the revenue. Even though they have a conservation fund it's not been activated. There's a few other things as well, but they need to be addressed only in the area of strengthening."