Mandatory guides push threatens 80% of fly fishing impact


Tribune Business Reporter


The Bahamas could lose almost 80 per cent of the fly fishing industry’s $141 million annual economic impact if it alienates the ‘do-it-yourself’ anglers, a leading tourism executive has warned.

Ellison “Tommy” Thompson, the deputy director-general of tourism, told the Exuma Business Outlook conference that the Bahamas would effectively be ‘cutting off its nose to spite its face’ if it mandated that all foreign fishermen use a local guide.

Some members of the Bahamas Fly Fishing Association have been pushing for just such a law, which has been deeply resisted by both foreign fishermen, Bahamian industry participants and many lodge operators.

And Mr Thompson said there was room for both - ‘do-it-yourself’ anglers and those who hired Bahamian guides.

Mr Thompson said that according to industry data, anglers who use a guide directly inject $14.7 million into the Bahamian economy, and have a $15 million value added effect. This makes for a total economic impact of almost $30 million.

But anglers who do not use a guide spend $55 million, and create a $56 million ‘value added’ effect for a total $111 million impact. The latter sum is at risk should mandatory guides be pursued.

“The question is do you want to alienate the DIYs when you look at the economic impact. You can say everyone who comes has to have a guide, but I think you would be cutting off a lot of money,” said Mr Thompson.

“The question is: Which direction you want to go? I think that there is accommodation for all. I think the guides need to diversify their product offerings. Why don’t you offer the equipment, the paddle boards, the kayaks. This is a way people are looking to enjoy their vacations now.”

Mr Thompson added that Exuma has the opportunity to position itself as an exclusive boating destination, and could also capitalise on the diving industry.

He said that while Exuma had “bucked the trend”, witnessing an increase in visitor arrivals from 2008 to 2014, it, like many Family Islands, has been plagued by issues such as inadequate and expensive airlift, aging infrastructure and poor access to landmarks.


MonkeeDoo 8 years, 8 months ago

Government stupidity is unbounded !

TheMadHatter 8 years, 8 months ago

HEY _ THIS IS A GREAT IDEA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We haven't lost enough money and jobs from Bahamar and all the other business closings (like the perfume distributor in freeport that closed last month - 23 GOOD PAYING jobs and lots of supporting vendors losing a great customer)

NO - let's see what else we can lose.

Maybe Perry should just revoke the business license of ALL HOTELS in the Bahamas and let the police stand guard and keep them closed - and shut down all the airports too - send the air traffic controllers home.

Yeah - that's a great idea. I wonder why he hasn't thought of that one. Ooops hope I'm not putting ideas in his head - LOL.


Hotelier 8 years, 8 months ago

This is not news anymore. The Department of Marine Resources and The Ministry of Tourism have already come out and said that this is not going to happen in The Bahamas. In other words...do it yourself flats fishing is not going to be banned. There was so much negative publicity generated by this proposed legislation and the negative impact on the industry so great that MOT issued a press release to this effect. Most Bahamians have no idea of the damage potentially unleashed by a minority handful of guides and the potential damage averted by those of us that fought hard behind the scenes to stop them. Requiring all foreign anglers to hire guides was only the tip of the iceberg. They had more anti foreign demands such as getting all non Bahamians out of the business. This is not a new agenda.....this has been going on without legs for a least 15 to 20 years. Hmmm one might say it took a Minister with no understanding of the industry to let It all get as far as it did.

rtaylor 8 years, 8 months ago

Your response is very misleading and not true. I have been following this from the MidCurrent Articles and the so called "minority handful of guides" as you call them DID NOT recommend that all foreign anglers have to hire guides nor were their recommendations anti-foreign. Please visit their website at http:www.bffia.org to see their recommendations to Fishing Legislation and not accept any information thrown into the public arena. For the Public info their recommendations are PRO-Bahamian and in the Bahamians' best interest. Even Stevie Wonder can see that! They never suggested to band DIY, they suggested that it should be regulated and not allowed in managed areas. Our fishing industry should be reserved for Bahamians with non-Bahamians partnering with locals, just like Cuba. As a matter of fact it was you who were working behind the scenes that created the hysteria by spreading the misinformation in the first place! Bahamians are not stupid and clearly understand when persons like yourself and Non-Bahamians push back, that there is usually extreme value involved or we would not hear a peep from you! Again exploiting country's natural resources to the detriment of the locals. As for Mr. Thompson, a Government Employee and Public Servant, it was sad for him to also put misinformation in the public arena and create mischief, even after Director Michael Braynen addressed the Legislation in the Tribune September 25, 2015 Article. Also, what has me baffled, I cannot find any hard statistical data to corroborate Mr. Thompson's 80% figure other than a 2010 The Economic Impact of Flats Fishing in The Bahamas; Tony Fedler, which he states the information provided was incomplete and not broken down specifically to Guided and DIY, so he made assumptions using various formulas. So you do the math......Also really, only worth $141M from 5 years ago! What about Permit, Tarpon and Snook value? They say the Florida Keys flatsfishing is about $800M! Wow! Now take a look at Google and look at their flats to the Bahamas'! Rubbish! I agree this is not a new agenda for Non-Bahamians trying to "hoodwink" locals by down playing the value of their natural resources and threatening their tourist dollar. This isn't about PLP or FNM because even Hubert Ingraham admitted this industry needed to be addressed and regulated. It's all documented. I congratulate the Department of Marine Resources and Minister Gray for taking the bold step of LOOKING OUT FOR BAHAMIANS FIRST and I am certain many do as well. This legislation is not about party but BAHAMIANS RIGHTS within their own country. May the legislation be passed in the Senate with GOD's speed! Amen!

GWilson 8 years, 8 months ago

The $800M refers to the economic value of Florida saltwater recreational fishing inclusive of the $460M estimated for saltwater flats fishing, a study done in 2013. As for the size and our abundant fisheries, compared to Florida, the Bahamas has the potential to exceed their economic value but the Ministry of Tourism(MOT) has failed in this area of marketing miserably. I agree there is no hard core statistical data to substantiate the 80% and that our flatsfishing economic value of $141M suggested in the Report, prepared over 5 years ago, are inconclusive. The percentage of Guided and Unguided Anglers (DIY) visitors to the Bahamas also inconclusive. As for the Guides input, depending on which island you gather the information from, could contribute to the convoluted data's accuracy. Of the 200 plus BFFIA's Guide and Lodge members , very few said they had taken part in the survey conducted in 2009. Mr. Fedler stated that he lacked incomplete data and had to base the report primarily on assumptions. Quote from the report "The type of fishing (bonefishing or offshore fishing) was not indicated on the survey...........There were two limitations to this study that are important to note. First, the data used in this study was limited to party size, visitor night, and expenditure averages for anglers provided by the Ministry of Tourism in addition to the summary data contained in the VES report. Having the capability to analyze the primary VES data would have been very useful. Likewise, the ability to analyze the Ministry of Tourism Departure Card data to achieve bonefish angling data for each of the Bahamian islands would have been very beneficial. The absence of this capability resulted in allocating non-guided bonefish angling to each island based on the proportion of guided angler days. There are some problems inherent with these procedures.....". So you do the research and math. Here are questions that Bahamians must ask themselves and MOT: 1) Whose money pays for the "Free Airfare" offered to tourists to stay at certain hotels in the Bahamas? 2) What is the total amount of money paid for packages of this nature offered? 3) Does it exceed the Government's revenue collected from these Hotels? 4) Has the Ministry of Tourism empowered any local Bahamian to be owners in their current number 1 industry or promote them only in the hospitality industry as maids, bartenders, waitresses, desk clerks, guides etc.? The answers to these questions should prove interesting, if you ever get a response. It is my opinion that our natural resources are being undervalued and exploited but I am confident that my Bahamian Brothers and Sisters are waking up to the true value of their country and marine environment and will advocate for a more diversified economy with less reliance on Tourism and more local ownership. This is a new generation coming up with a different mindset. And yall could take that to the flats!

MonkeeDoo 8 years, 8 months ago

The PLP must be disbanded. They should never again offer to be elected to govern. They have destroyed this country beyond measure.

tinkywinky 8 years, 8 months ago

I'm a Bahamian that lives abroad and enjoy coming home to go bonefishing in the out-islands and Nasau. If I was pushed down the road of having to hire a guide to fish the areas I have always fished.....well...I'll go to Cuba next time.

Cuba will open up soon to the US market and when it does just watch them flock over there for the culture, cheap booze, tobacco and fishing opportunities. Can the Bahamas really compete with that?

SP 8 years, 8 months ago

............................. Flocking to Cuba is pipe dream ..............................

The new law just passed in Cuba states ANYONE wanting to do business in Cuba MUST HAVE A CUBAN PARTNER!

Cuba WILL NOT allow the Florida based boat hotels and foreigners to get away with the nonsense they do here.

The U.S. cruise ship industry had a rude awakening recently when Cuba TOLD THEM what the deal will be if they want to cruise to Cuba. High landing and departure taxes and a linty of other fees far surpassing anything these incompetent clowns in Bahamas dare even dream about.

Obie Welchcombe is a clown in an idiots suit. Both PLP and FNM have done such an incompetent job at maintaining Bahamas cruise ports that the cruise ship industry dictates what they will and will not do. 50% of departure taxes must be returned to cruise companies to compensate for inadequacies of the port.

tinkywinky 8 years, 8 months ago

Did I just comment on this?

BMW 8 years, 8 months ago

One only needs to look at the numbers, it would be asinine and I mean totally asinine to effect such a law!

SP 8 years, 8 months ago

Foreign vessel operators bring their own white guides and cut local guides out!

Ellison “Tommy” Thompson conveniently disingenuously omitted to mention that NO ONE goes fly fishing without a guide of some sort, as one cannot effectively fish and simultaneously maneuver a boat.

Truth is, foreign operators bring their own very highly paid white fly fishing guides from Florida, disenfranchising Bahamians from profiting from their own natural resource.

The question really should be "how to regulate the industry to benefit Bahamians more than foreigners"?

As always, we have a natural resource over-run by big money foreign interest and government apathy towards Bahamians getting a fair share of a pie they are supposed to own.

newcitizen 8 years, 8 months ago

Actually a ton of people fish without guides. You clearly have never done any fly fishing yourself if you think the only way in on a boat with a guide.

People do bring guides with them on a very limited number of instances, and guess what, that is already illegal as you are not to be working in the Bahamas as a foreigner without a work permit. That's aside from the fact that you want to single out white guides. You do know some Bahamian guides are white?

This legislation just uses very protectionist wording to try and enact laws that already exist and are currently not being enforced. This is an attempt to funnel the most amount of money through a few people at the expense of the entire rest of the industry.

There is no natural resource overrun. Bonefishing in the Bahamas is nowhere near it's capacity. No one is stealing any ones pie. This is the type of fear mongering politics that leads to xenophobia and hate.

SP 8 years, 8 months ago

................................................ Horseshit ...............................................

Scant few if any people arrive in any destination and take off by themselves. Majority of individuals fly fishing use guides who know the flats and best places to fish.

Although already illegal for foreigners to work here without work permits, there is no infrastructure in place to police these people, so they have gotten accustomed to outwitting the dumb Bahamians.

To be clear, I have tremendous hate for foreigners coming here disenfranchising Bahamians from income rightfully theirs.

We cannot roll into Florida and do as we want. Similarly they should not be allowed to do so here.

Bahamians MUST HAVE the first opportunity to benefit from resources derived from our own country!

rtaylor 8 years, 8 months ago

The legislation doesn't use very protectionist wording as it has not been passed yet. The first draft was simply a "Working Paper" for industry input and until persons behind the scenes decided to blow things out of proportion. So what if the Bahamas is nowhere near its capacity? Should we just sit back and allow Non-Bahamians free reign in our country, unregulated and not managed? Should we wait until our flats are destroyed before we implement regulations and management? If they are not banning DIY but asking it to be regulated, how does that "This is an attempt to funnel the most amount of money through a few people at the expense of the entire rest of the industry"? No not stealing just exploitation.

rtaylor 8 years, 8 months ago

It is quite obvious that they were not singling out "white guides". It is quite obvious they were referring to Non-Bahamian caucasian. Yes, we do have fair and white-skinned Bahamian guides, which most have some African ancestry, so...... I would be surprised at how many black guides are brought in to guide. I'll bet on "0".

rtaylor 8 years, 8 months ago

Agreed! Mr. Thompson was indeed conveniently disingenuous! At least Bahamians will seek the facts and make note of who really is looking out for them and is putting them first. Not Ministry of Tourism or Mr. Thompson!

SP 8 years, 8 months ago

.................... Ministry Of Tourism overlooks BILLIONS focusing on MILLIONS? ................


Foreign interest once again exploit the ignorance of Bahamas government to the detriment of Bahamians.

The law should be simple and straight forward: "Bahamians must have the first opportunity as fly fishing guides in the Bahamas".

Any foreign entity that cannot understand this rule should not be welcomed to our country!

themessenger 8 years, 8 months ago

What the myopic Minister and our misguided government should be doing is making the purchase of a fishing license available online as well as at every port of entry mandatory for anyone in possession of a fishing rod or tackle. Throwing some heavy manners, ie substantial cruising permit and work permit fees on the commercial hotel boats that come here and conduct their business as if they were in Florida will soon adjust their attitude and produce considerable revenue.These people are not your average sport fisherman coming for a couple of days fishing, they are conducting a business illegally at the expense of Bahamians and should be dealt with accordingly. Where the hell are our new brand 230 million dollar defense force when you need them? No work permit, no cruising permit, arrest, fines and confiscation of all property associated with the illegal business. They can't do it in US waters so why allow it here. .

rtaylor 8 years, 8 months ago

This is old news! The Ministry of Marine Resources already responded to this matter and the way forward with the proposed legislation. Mr. Thompson and the person behind the scenes he is working with, should stop trying to create mischief. We Bahamians are not fool!

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