First take on the Bahamas Regs from ICAST

You can go to the BTT facebook page and watch the presentation of the regs by the Permanent Secretary at the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Ms. Rena Glinton. It is also on the BOTB facebook page.

Here’s my first take on the regs presented at ICAST.

  • DIY appears to be mostly, if not wholly untouched. Your DIY fears appear to be mitigated for the vast majority of anglers. The only folks caught out are boats with more than 2 people, although the language on that is a bit iffy for me at this point.
  • There are not different licenses for guided or unguided or semi-guided. There’s just one license with different lengths of time.
  • License fees are modest and in-line. $20/week and $60/year. I’m OK with that. The fee is still split between conservation and the general fund.
  • The training and certification of guides will take place with guide associations… plural. That’s good. This will include the Abaco guide’s association too.
  • The enforcement powers will be governmental, not NGO, which means it isn’t the Prescott show.
  • Catch and Release is the law of the land, except locals are allowed to maybe keep one to eat, although I don’t know if that is per-day or what, exactly.
  • I wasn’t sure if locals needed a license or not.

My main point of confusion was about if you needed a guide if you had a boat. Ms. Glinton might not have had this totally right. She said that if one person was fishing and another was poling, it was only one angler and wouldn’t require a guide. But, out of skiff, unless you are throwing hardware or bait, you aren’t going to have more than one person fishing at a time. You could have, in theory, 5 guys in a boat and only one of them is going to be fishing at a time. So, I don’t think that is actually what they mean.

They presented some numbers that were a little questionable. They said recreational flats angling accounted for $500,000,000/year. The previous study was $140M, so this is a 2.5X increase over those numbers, which make it possible, but not probable.

Funny to me, they presented the $500M/year number, a job number of 18,000 (both directly and indirectly) and a recreational angler number of 37,000. Then, on the heals of those numbers, they said because of those numbers it “… has become necessary to regulate and develop this sector…” Kind of like saying “Given the billion users and billions of dollars of income, we, the government, have decided the step in to help Facebook better serve its users and to ensure it will continue to grow.”

I’d argue that if recreational flats fishing contributes $500M annually to the Bahamas, that’s a pretty good argument to leave it alone, unless you think the regulation of the flats industry will add to the tally or preserve the future of that industry and the evidence that the industry is in peril is pretty scant.

Still, the regulations appear, at first blush, to be pretty good. DIY is in tact. The BFFIA is not going to get the keys to the kingdom. The government will be tasked with enforcement, not brute squads or the BFFIA.

It might be possible to improve on the legislation, but it could be much, much, much worse. Really, every previous proposal from the BFFIA/Fisheries has been horrific, but this is much more in line with the voices of reason.

That’s my $.02.



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