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Gov't Told: 'Strengthen' Fly Fishing Regulations

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

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."

Comments

Porcupine 4 months ago

If you know what is going on, you know that perhaps a majority of guides in The Bahamas now do not support Mr. Smith and his agenda. The ostensible purpose of protecting the resource and protecting the industry, may not be what it seems. I am personally aware that the botched roll out, poor execution, and totally unnecessary confusion by our government officials did, in fact, cost this country plenty in revenue and good will. It was almost as if the government said, "We simply don't give a shit." from the way it was handled. The whole flats fishing fiasco has done nothing to burnish our reputation. And the saddest part is, the government and those supposedly looking out for the fishing guide's interests, failed miserably in this whole affair. Who can trust us now? It was clear there was no leadership, no adult in the room who could have made something positive come out of this. It is unbelievable that it was allowed to get to this point. That we were willing to do damage to our own people, to those who struggled very hard to get this business to come to The Bahamas. A really sorry, sorry state of affairs. The government is raising taxes, saying they will work to empower and assist Bahamians to start their own businesses. On the other hand, they behave, like they did in this whole situation, as if they don't care about Bahamians who have taken the initiative to do for themselves. It's not like those who have taken the risks, done the hard work, and succeeded, owe the government of The Bahamas one bit of thanks. It seems the government is working against the interests of Bahamians. How else to describe it? So, so sad. There were no winners in this waste of time.

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The_Oracle 4 months ago

A classic Bahamian "no one will patronize my lodge, so I'll cause all lodges to suffer!" That's my understanding. They've severely diminished the industry and he pushes for more damage! As it is it will take years for trust and clarity to return. Man, we crap on each other with great reliability! Foreigners only crap on us with the approval of a Bahamian! (elected or fronting)

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