Bahamas Regs, what is being said and what isn’t being said

Looking Good Mr. Bone

Looking Good Mr. Bone

There was a meeting last week with Minister Alfred Gray and the guides to talk over the proposed regulations.

Emerging from that meeting, the people I talked to sounded pleased, optimistic and hopeful. I shared their sentiments based on what I had heard. Seemed like things were going well. A license would be easily obtainable, second home owners could use their own boats, foreign owned lodges were not going to be targeted and the most egregious Yank insult, the unguided mothership, would become a thing of the past.

I can get in line to support any and all of that.

There will be another meeting (July 13 in Nassau) and from there new proposed regs will be crafted and debated in the Cabinet before going for a vote.

Something odd has happened since Monday though. Nothing. Minister Gray has not used the days from Monday to Saturday to reassure anyone of anything. It would be easy enough to clear up the “misconceptions.”

It would be an easy thing to do, really. Put out some new proposals. Put out a statement. Get the folks behind this to float alternative suggestions (like the Abaco Fly Fishing Guide’s Association did). These easy things have not happened and I’m left wondering if Minister Gray might honestly be interested in changing course or not.

Maybe they just sought to placate us a bit without actually intending to modify those poisonous proposed regs. Maybe they figure we only have so much outrage and so long an attention span (ok, that last one might be true). Maybe they have seen the errors of their ways and are just spending their time in quiet meditation contemplating how close they came to destroying so many jobs, businesses and lives with their short-sighted money-grab?

Until we see something in writing, something actually addressing our concerns we are only left with a “Just trust us” from the very people who brought us those original proposals, which were, I believe, intentionally full of loopholes and levers to be used in an attempt to enrich a few at the expense of the many. I don’t trust them and haven’t seen any reason to. I have the opposite of trust, driven by both the content of the original proposal and the comments I’ve seen put forward by the two guys I believe to be most responsible for the mess we find ourselves in right now (oh, you know who you are).

So, Minister Gray, how about seeing some of this in writing? Easy to do… so please do the easy thing.

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  1. Hi Bjorn,

    Thanks for continuing to post commentary to keep your readers informed. I would like to add to opinion given to you by others who attended July 13th’s National Consultation meeting chaired by Minister Gray.

    You said (above) about the meeting: “Seemed like things were going well. A license would be easily obtainable, second home owners could use their own boats, foreign owned lodges were not going to be targeted and the most egregious Yank insult, the unguided mothership, would become a thing of the past.”

    As executive director, I represent the Marina Operators of The Bahamas who are joined in unity against major parts of the proposed laws. I could not agree that things went well at the meeting. The major two objections were hardly discussed owing to insufficient time. We should have been given 90 days minimum consultation but that sensible idea was blown off summarily.

    Yes, the meeting’s consensus was that personal fishing licenses should be made easily attainable online. But first, let’s see if there’s any consultation on the execution, and the look and feel of that licensing web site before we use the words “easily attainable”. History, such as Obamacare, shows that things can go very wrong with web sites and unless there is considerable vetting and broad consultation, which is rare, the web site is more likely to be frustratingly awkward than easy.

    The meeting did not give any clarity whether second-home owners could use their own boats—even those with a regular Bahamian boat license. The proposed law states that each flats fishing boat must have a Bahamian sport fish charter license, which is something quite different. Under current laws only Bahamian citizens can receive them. So, that requirement alone prevents any skiff boat that comes in with a yacht or is owned by a non-Bahamian from fishing the flats.

    The requirement that each flats fishing boat with any foreigner on board must have a certified Bahamian guide also prevents any DIY fishing by skiff whether that fly-fisherman stays at any lodge, hotel, second home, or comes in by yacht. Since certified guides cost $600 per boat, that is a great deterrent.

    While we all (the guides and major tourism) agree with personal permits and conservation funding, we all want to get rid of the bad apples that conduct self-guided tour operation businesses and motherships. But the two stipulations above practically kill all DIY fly-fishing using boats. The reality, however, is that some genuine DIY-by-boat fishermen (on vacation and not operating businesses), such as second home-owners, guests at lodges, rentals, hotels and on yachts, form a huge slice of the fly-fishing market and we are eager to welcome and keep them.

    We want the law to be rid of only the bad apples, not the whole cart.
    We trust that wisdom will prevail.

    The Marina Operators Of The Bahamas

  2. I appreciate your efforts but funding of proposals do matter at the end. Hope you do well in future.

  3. bonefishbjorn

    Not sure what you mean there.

  4. I will sadly miss the fishing , friends and camaraderie of the local Bahamians if the proposed changes are implemented. The Bahamas has afforded me on both the guided and DIY fishing treks an outstanding experience.
    These new rules will destroy the “fishing” tourism if they are executed. When one door closes another will open. Cuba, Belize,Mexico…..other economies will welcome our dollars. Pete

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