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Fly fish regulations to unlock ‘millions’

By Natario Mckenzie

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The controversial fly fishing regulations will ultimately drive hundreds of millions of dollars through the Bahamian economy, the industry association’s president yesterday questioning why there was such vocal opposition to local ownership.

Prescott Smith, the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Associaion (BFFIA) chief, addressing the fourth annual Andros Business Outlook conference, said the proposed regulations were about more than 400 bonefishing guides obtaining a license.

“This legislation is not just about 400 guides getting a license. It means that with this document passing through Cabinet, hundreds of millions of dollars will begin flowing through the economy that will benefit every single Bahamian, including many that are opposed to it,” said Mr Smith.

“There is so much opposition to this, and that should be a concern, because if it is our number one industry then people should not be opposed to local people being owners of that industry.

“It should be something that is celebrated and encouraged. This legislation is important to every single Bahamian in this country. It is the first in our country’s history. This is about local people being owners in our number one industry,” Mr Smith added.

The Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) (Amendment) Bill 2015, and the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) (Flats Fishing) Regulations 2015, introduce a number of changes designed to create a supervisory framework for flats fishing in the Bahamas.

This involves a set of new permit fees and stricter distinctions for foreign fishermen and foreign-­owned bone fishing lodges. Concerns over the new regulations centre on the proposed requirement that all visiting fly fishermen, even experts coming to the Bahamas for decades, hire a local guide at a cost of $600 per day.

While sensitive to the need to protect Bahamian fishing guides from foreigners who come in and establish themselves in business illegally, the tourism sector is concerned that the ‘local guide stipulation’ and other proposed fees will make this nation further uncompetitive on price and encourage anglers to head to rival destinations.

“There is a lot of talk in the media and so much misinformation, but any time you take up something of this magnitude there is going to be push back,” said Mr Smith.

He added that it was disappointing that other tourism industry asscoiations we’re not standing in support of the BFFIA, taking a veiled swipe at the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Marina Operators of the Bahamas (MOB) and the two main tourism promotion Boards.

“There are four associations that control our tourism industry and not one of them are supporting us and this legislation,” Mr Smith said.

“That is a concern. The question is why is there such opposition to the first association in our country’s history that is about the local, grassroots people. It means that persons only see us playing a certain role in the tourism industry. That is anti-democracy.”

Comments

The_Oracle 8 years, 12 months ago

While it is probably a good idea for some form of licensing to be established, restricting it to Bahamians is following the taxi plate fiasco that Pindling created, that we still suffer with. Note that taxis now share a very marginalized service. Letting the Bahamian Bonefishing interests "corner" the market will kill the activity, nor will government see a dime if the Bonefishing guides collect the fees. A $600 fee will stifle competition and make everywhere else cheaper. That fee is over and above accommodations and amenities as well i'm sure. Perhaps a closer look at Mr. Smiths "camp" to assess his market share, This may just be a ploy to increase his traffic by force, not by quality of service.

Chucky 8 years, 11 months ago

Bone fishing is a peaceful pastime, trust me when I say this, no foreigner is going to want to pay $600.00 day to hire a guide.

First of all , nobody needs a guide.

And second, and most importantly, nobody wants to spend a day with a Bahamian while you are bone fishing. Again bone fishing is about peace and tranquility, not about hanging out with one of our money grubbing / food spraying when you talk bahamains.

What a stup asinine idea.

sheeprunner12 8 years, 11 months ago

Good point Chucky ........ this $600 fee will not be a smart move ...... but I believe that Bahamian guides should get preference with lodges .... DIY tourists who wish to fish should get a daily/weekly permit at a reasonable fee ......... if a bonefish guide is paid $300 all inclusive per day, a $100 day permit is not unreasonable (but this will be abused, as there are too many foreign second-home owners operating as illegal guides now)

Heatheroe 8 years, 10 months ago

I keep hearing about this "there are too many foreign second-home owners operating as illegal guides now" but have yet to hear anyone give some solid proof. Do you have any examples? I would honestly like to know so that we can avoid renting from anyone doing business illegally in the Bahamas.

The_Oracle 8 years, 11 months ago

Akin to closing the barn door once the horses are out! If there was one whit of intelligence in Government this should have been seen coming decades ago. Foreign visitors come here, see potential, decide to invest, get preferential treatment (unless they fall afoul of Government/ministers/island administrators, usually after they've invested/been bled out) and go for it. Bahamians are not afforded the same treatment, unless they are politically connected and can convince the mindless that they need preferential treatment/protection/favors. Always something in it for the politicians/family as well. As long as Bahamians can take from someone else to gain themselves, nothing will move forward.

asiseeit 8 years, 11 months ago

Once again Bahamians are going to price themselves out of the market. Just wait till Cuba opens up. Then you are going to hear people yell and scream. We squandered our chance and started to play with the Chinese, Uncle Sam has a plan to punish the Bahamas, gonna be some lean years ahead!

Scott 8 years, 11 months ago

The part of the proposal that bothers me the most is the inability to visit The Bahamas and fish by myself, without a guide. I was planning a trip to Exuma in February and am now considering other places (Turks and Caicos, The Yucatan, Belize). My family and friends have been coming to The Bahamas for years (usually 2-3 times per year) and it saddens me to think that we won't be doing this anymore. If I do return to The Bahamas to fish, this much is certain -- I won't be hiring a guide who is affiliated with the BFFIA.

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