Thanks Geneva… you continue to illustrate so many points so effectively.
This is the sort of crap that gets spouted back when you make a case against the fly fishing regs put forward by the PLP and BFFIA (Gray and Smith). Let’s delve in, shall we?
- “you can see firsthand, them attempting to have reversed the flyfishing legislation that was currently passed” – The regulations never went for a vote in the full Parliament and it is easy to see why. They would have lost. So, they cut some inside deals to get it through the Cabinet without it having to get a full airing… so, no, it wasn’t passed, it was weaseled through in the least transparent way possible.
- “afforded Bahamians rights and control of an industry in their best interest and enjoyment for Locals and Foreigners“ – No, the regulations intended to give control of the industry only to a few Bahamian, cut out large swaths of Bahamians and directly attacked the interests and wishes of foreign anglers (also known as the folks who, with their tourist dollars are responsible for their being a fly fishing tourist economy).
- DO WE HAVE A SAY IN THEIR FLYFISHING LAWS? CAN WE GO IN ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY AND DO AS WE WANT? – If our laws were enacted specifically to punish Bahamian tourists, I’d expect you to have a say. If the fly fishing economy was dependent on Bahamian tourists you’d be damn sure we’d listen to input from Bahamian tourists. Also… you can come to Florida or California or Montana and, with a license, you can fish any bit of public water you want according to the regulations, which are generally set on scientific grounds. There are very, very few restrictions and no rules about training or licensing by non-governmental entities like the BFFIA.
- “That being said we must fight to ensure that the Flyfishing Legislation remains. Let your Members of Parliament, their Generals and others know that “Hell NO! It’s the People Time and the legislation is in our best interest and NOT to be touched!” – This is funny because this whole thing was rammed through PLP channels to the exclusion of pretty much any other viewpoint and it was a disaster. It alienated fly fishing tourists. It split the Bahamian fly fishing community down the middle. It was a disaster of the first order… in premise and in execution. It was also so totally partisan that you’d have to expect it to get dropped immediately with a change in leadership. Every time Gray sat in a meeting he made an enemy.
And so here are the lessons for the FNM when it comes to regulating the fly fishing industry.
- Listen – Listen to everyone, even folks like good ole’ Prescott and his lady friend Geneva. It never felt like Gray and Prescott listened to anyone. They didn’t adopt any of the good ideas brought forward by the guides from Abaco, or the conservation leaders at the BTT or folks like Perk Perkins at Orvis. They paid lip service to listening and to collaboration and the end product was, most people would agree, a steaming pile of crap.
- Execute in a non-partisan way – If you want regulations to last, they need to pass the smell test and be seen as not FNM or PLP regulations. Make it work. You have 5 years to make it work. Get the training done through Tourism, if you need it. Get guide licensing done, if you need it, through an independent and non-partisan entity.
- Be clear about your aims and don’t deceive – A huge problem with the BFFIA’s approach was that there were a LOT of contradictory messages put out there. The first draft directly attacked foreign owned lodges and there were many elements of drafts that went after DIY anglers, all while being denied despite being there in black and white and being mentioned in side conversations all over the Bahamas. It all led to a real feeling that these guys couldn’t be trusted. At one point it was allll about conservation, except it never really was ever about conservation. It was always about power and economics and about control and also always in the most dodgy of ways. So… be trustworthy. Be better than what we witnessed over the past couple years.
- There are some good ideas – Very, very few people are opposed to a license fee. It just needs to be easy to get. A guy coming in on a Friday into Marsh Harbor has a hard time getting a license when the Administrator’s office closes at 1:00 and won’t be open until Monday. Is that guy supposed to not fish over the weekend? Of course not. So, take the good parts and make them work. A fund for conservation? Great. Just don’t have the money go to Prescott’s sham of a nonprofit. Limits on mother-ship operations? 95% of anglers would get behind that, but don’t make it illegal for a guy to take out his buddy when he’s paid to get his boat in the country, bought a home and put tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Bahamian economy.
I look forward to seeing where things go. I’m optimistic, which is something I haven’t been able to say about the Bahamas for a couple years.