I’m an optimist deep down so I have hope that the Bahamas can reverse course on the proposed regulations before even more damage is done.
Here’s another tidbit to give some hope:
Tribune Business can reveal that the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is uniting with the Grand Bahama and Out Island Promotion Boards, plus the Marina Operators of the Bahamas (MOB), to oppose proposed amendments they fear will hit the tourism industry “like a tsunami”.
Seems like some non-fishing folks are starting to wake up to the dangers. Read the story here.
Orvis also recently weighed in on the controversy and they aren’t happy.
Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures (who have done as much or more than anyone to grow the Bahamas as a fly fishing destination in the last decade) also recently withdrew their support for the BFFIA (Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association), as that group’s leadership is largely responsible for the current fiasco (although not all of them, thanks for fighting the good fight Cheryl Bastian (she owns Swain’s Cay in Andros, a place you should consider booking).
If you are opposed to these regulations and want to avoid the guides and lodges who are driving this process, I’d urge you to ask some serious questions before you book. Ask if they support the regulations, especially if you are going to be booking Stafford Creek or Andros Island Bonefishing Club. If you hear an answer that sounds like political double-speak and doesn’t actually answer any of your questions, or punts responsibility to the government, or gives you an answer that directly contradicts facts you have plainly read with your own eyes, well, what you do with those answers is up to you.
There are a lot of great lodges out there in the Bahamas with good people who realize how damaging these new regulations would be and who seek to avoid the tsunami. Support them.
Dick Brown, author and angler I hold in high regard wrote his letter before the deadline closed on Friday. He’s a man who has also promoted the Bahamas, has shown his love of the place, the people and the resource. Here’s his letter.
To the Bahamas Ministry of FisheriesAs an angler, author, and longtime friend of the Bahamas, I would like to make a few comments on the proposal to change the policies on bonefishing in the Commonwealth. I have been an avid flats angler fishing in the Bahamas most of my adult life. I have written articles about fishing there for many U.S. angling magazines and I have authored two books on bonefishing, which are considered definitive handbooks on the sport and which feature numerous destinations in the Bahamas and many of her fine people, guides, and lodges. I also speak at national fly fishing shows each year about bonefishing techniques and how to be a better flats angler and where the best places are to go bonefishing.I am, and have long been, a strong believer that the Bahamian people should benefit from the great resource that the bonefish fishery represents, and specifically that Bahamian guides, lodge owners and others involved in delivering the Bahamas fishing venues should benefit economically from the resource and from their efforts. I also believe, however, that it would be a mistake to prevent non Bahamian tourist anglers–who have spent considerable years, effort, and money in learning to become proficient in flats fishing–from being able to bonefish on their own from time to time, as well as allowing them to fish with a guide. I do both and enjoy both. I would not visit a destination where I could not do both. And I am not alone.I have had the pleasure of fishing with many great Bahamian guides over the years, some of whom have become legends. And some, like Charlie Neymour and Ricardo Burrows and others, have gone on to build their own lodges. And I have stayed at many Bahamian owned lodges. I have great respect for such enterprising Bahamian entrepreneurs. I helped Nettie Symonette with the launch of her Different of Abaco bonefish lodge at Casuarina Point at its inception and I wrote the story of her great accomplishment in opening up the marls to bonefishing on the west side of Abaco. These are pioneering accomplishments by industrious Bahamians like the great Smith family of Andros. But I also believe that many of the non-Bahamian lodge owners have made significant contributions to the Bahamas bonefish industry as well, bringing knowledge, techniques, and awarenesses from other venues and it would be a grave error to discourage such healthy partnerships with others who bring both good ideas and new guests from far away destinations. I have fished at both Bahamian-owned and foreign-owned lodges over the years and enjoyed both. I believe the Bahamas is big enough for both and greatly benefits from both. And I hope you can find a way to continue to accommodate both.One last point. Research and protecting the bonefish fishery has never been more important. The sport depends on it. And it is a joint venture. We have all come a long way in understanding what is needed to protect this great resource thanks to the efforts of pioneers like Don Erdman, Doug Colton, Roy Crabtree, and more recently,the researchers at Bonefish Tarpon Trust and others. This is a time for Bahamian anglers, guides, and lodge owners to grow closer not further apart in their partnership with U.S., British, French, German, and all other foreign anglers, interests, and research partners to the end of all working together to protect what may be the greatest light tackle and fly fishing game fish on the face of the earth. It is a time to work together, not apart.I hope we will.
Respectfully submitted,Dick BrownAuthor, Fly Fishing for Bonefish