If the regulations proposed by the BFFIA and Fisheries passes there will be some winners and some losers. It is worth looking at the breakdown, as I see it.
Lodges – Yes, lodges will win in this scenario. They get rid of a great number of anglers, even locals, and get the waters mostly to themselves. The threat of harassment, the complicated license fees, the massive possible fines will keep DIY guys off the water, in large part. That means the water will be less pressured and the safest way to access any of it will be via a lodge with the lodge guides. This is the Quebec version of fisheries management.
The BFFIA – Made kingmakers by this legislation, they would get to determine who guides and who doesn’t. It puts them, and our good pal Prescott, in a position of power and authority to be able to dictate to the guiding community.
Cuba, Belize, Mexico – Those who don’t go to the Bahamas will go other places. Even if the DIY game is not the same, the animosity being created will keep some folks away, but they’ll still go fishing, just other places.
Um… I can’t see any other winners here.
Independent guides – The folks that came with their families and wanted to grab a day with a guide in addition to a little walking around on their own will, to one degree or another, go somewhere else. Having to get two different licenses for the different types of fishing isn’t great either. There will be fewer days of guiding for indie guides.
Assisted DIY providers – A different license, a different classification and having to deal with the BFFIA make this a much harder business to run under the newest proposed regs.
Smaller hotels/guest houses – Those places the families and DIY folks stayed at won’t get that business.
Small businesses – Some of the families who come to do some fishing and other activities will go other places, so fewer meals to be sold, fewer cars to be rented, fewer Kaliks to be sold.
Second home owners – A place like Abaco has a number of second home owners, some of whom have their own boats. They wouldn’t be able to fish with anyone else unless they hire a guide. It will likely mean some interesting places will be on the market though.
Bahamas Environment – If you have fewer people experiencing the wonders of the Bahamas, you’ll have fewer people who will care if some of that is destroyed. If fishing becomes less of an economic boost, other industries will fill the void and exploit the resource and cries to stop that will fall on ears slightly deafened by the reduction in the importance of angling. People fight for what they care about and they care about the things they know.
Bonefish research – The BFFIA is pretty much openly hostile to “American” science, even if Bahamians are deeply involved. If you look at who participates with the BTT you’ll notice a conspiciuos lack of BFFIA leadership.
Anyone who has disagreed with the BFFIA – The leadership here seems to really know how to carry a grudge. I can’t imagine they would use their new powers lightly. Maybe not immediately, but I’d bet some of the opposing forces would find it harder to do business if this sort of thing gets passed.
The average Bahamian – It has always been the case that the average Bahamian could walk out on their local flat, maybe right in front of their home, and fish. This changes that. Is that water considered a “flat?” Well, pay up or you can’t fish there. Considering how much of the Bahamas could be considered flats, that is a huge part of the country. I can’t imagine the local Bahamians have any idea they are about to have one of their birthrights stolen from right under their noses.
It is important to note that the proposed legislation does not outlaw DIY fishing, it just makes it much less appealing. The multiple licenses, the draconian fines, the possibility of being harassed on the flats, it all makes it likely to keep some people from heading to the Bahamas. Some business will continue to flow, but other business will dry up.