Association of Bahamas Marinas welcomes suspension of fly fishing regulations
The Association of Bahamas Marinas (ABM), which originally protested the Christie administration’s enacting of fly fishing regulations, said it welcomed the Minnis administration’s recent suspension of those regulations, given that the industry has seen a 40 percent decline in business at bonefish lodges ever since.
In 2017 the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) ratified the Flats Fishing Regulations, which ushered in license fees for fishing on the country’s flats and implemented penalties for breach of the new rules. It also required foreign fishermen to require the services of a local guide in order to fish the flats.
The ABM said it knew the implementation of the new regulations would have a detrimental impact on the industry and, in a press statement released yesterday, the group said, “I told you so.”
It continued, “The association regrets that its concern has, in fact, proved to be well-founded, given reports of a subsequent decline,” the release states.
“Now experiencing a bumper season in marina activity, the association regards the government’s decision as well-timed and expects it will give the fishing lodges an opportunity to regain momentum and re-establish The Bahamas’ reputation as a premier fly-fishing destination.”
The Bahamas’ bonefishing industry is purported to be worth $500 million and has attracted more than 400 Bahamian businessmen.
“The flats fishing sector is an important part of The Bahamas’ tourism product and is responsible for the employment of hundreds of Bahamians throughout The Bahamas,” former Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray said last year.
“Because this sector was not governed by any form of regulations, those involved in the industry acted as they desired, without rules or regulations and without any safeguards for conservation and sustainability of the industry. This position, we believe, could not be continued.”
The ABM called last year’s regulations “onerous and impractical” and said new regulations should be developed that benefit both the Bahamian businessmen as well as their consumers.
“Marina users spend large amounts purchasing goods and services in The Bahamas,” the ABM said.
“Boaters drawn to The Bahamas to fish will purchase fuel, groceries, supplies and repairs, gifts and souvenirs, entertainment, taxi services, food and beverages. The association recognizes the impact the 2017 regulations has had on lodges, taxi drivers and Family Islands communities and hails the government’s decision as well-timed.”
Prescott Smith, president of the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association, fought for almost 12 years for the sector to be regulated, and commended Gray and the former PLP government for finally championing what he said led to the protection of the industry and environment.