A few day have passed now and there have been a lot more voices added to the hue and cry about the potential Bahamian flats fishing regulations. Below are a few to pay attention to.
- Gink & Gasoline
- Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
- Nervous Waters
- Rod Hamilton (the DIY guy)
- Yellow Dog
- Hatch Magazine
- Delphi Club
I can only hope it is enough. The more I hear, the more I read, the worse I feel about what may be coming down the pike. I have become more convinced the regulations are being brought forward with malice. As bad as they are now, I’m afraid of what might happen when the doors close.
Now, the maybe good news I’ve heard from one Bahamian guide is that this stuff doesn’t have a good chance of passing. Let’s hope that is true.
Since people love lists. Some of the key points.
- A permit for a modest fee. You bet. Sign me up. However, make it easy, make it objective and make it modest in cost. Don’t make criminals out of the dad who goes and throws a spinner in the ocean for 20 minutes.
- Bahamian Guides for Bahamian Waters. There should not be Florida guides (or Texas guides or California guides) making money polling the flats of the Bahamas. Easy. I don’t know anyone who is opposed to that. However, if you rent a house and it comes with use of a boat and you use that boat to motor out to a flat 5 minutes away to fish, it seems like you should be able to do that without having to hire a guide. The guide may not like that, but the people who rented out the house like it and the people who feed and transport those guests benefit from their trip. To outlaw DIY, which, I fear, is really where this thing is headed, is to do injury to the Bahamian economy that will create distrust and animosity and will take years to heal.
The damage is being done right now. Americans and Europeans are changing travel plans NOW, as they are unsure where things are headed.
No one wants Bahamian guides to go away. I love doing a little DIY, but I love going with Bahamian guides, the good ones who know their waters so well. If the Bahamas makes me feel unwelcome, if it becomes hard, if it becomes a hassle, I’ll simply go somewhere else and I won’t be the only one and that Bahamian guide, the smooth casting, eagle eyed Bahamian guides I’ve enjoyed fishing with so much will simply go away.
I’ve seen the proposed regulations pitched as a way to preserve Bahamian heritage. I think the missing point is that there is no Bahamian heritage of poling the flats without clients and if you drive off the clients by making them feel unwelcome it will lay to waste the sustainable jobs build by the guiding industry. If that happens, the options for the Bahamians living on those islands will be narrowed down to the exploitation (and selling off of) their natural resources, and the national heritage of the Bahamas.
Read the posts linked to above and let your voice be heard.