Dec 16

Bahamas Regulations – Done Deal


It appears this is happening… January 1, 2017, much faster than anyone thought and with much less notice than was promised. It is happening without a vote in Parliament since it was pitched as a revision to existing legislation. (Now, I don’t know that this will, in fact, launch on Jan. 1, but that is what Minister Gray said, explicitly.)

This, I think, is what got passed, more or less, with maybe some very minor changes.

The big winner in all of this is Prescott Smith. His organization, the BFFIA, looks to be the entity that will control who guides in the Bahamas. That has always seemed like one of the main drivers. The organization he leads will train and certify guides. It is a lot of power and I would not be surprised to see it abused by someone so clearly capable of carrying a grudge and lashing out at those who question him. Prescott has a real anti-foreigner streak, ironic if you know his past, and he seems to be living out some long held revenge fantasy.

The main loser is, for sure, the Bahamian people, who now will have to pay the government to fish the flats, something they’ve never had to do. Water 1-6 feet in depth includes a heck of a lot of water now off limits unless you are paying. It is mind-numbing to think the Bahamian people would accept this, but this issue seems has attracted almost no attention from the media or from non-industry Bahamians.

The second biggest loser in all of this appears to be second home owners and ex-pats who have boats in the Bahamas. They will not be able to take anyone out with them to fish without a guide. Two people fishing is one too many, according to what I see as the regs. There is some debate if a boat owner would be able to fish, at all, without a guide, but I think a single angler can take their own boat out. More detail is needed here, but it isn’t good.

For the average bonefish angler, you can still do DIY, but you just can’t use a boat. Kayak? You bet. Two person Kayak? No. Canoe with one angler? Yes. Canoe with two anglers? No.

Funds raised by anglers will go half to the government and half for conservation. I’d bet a fair bit of that conservation money will go to the Bahamas Sportfishing Conservation Association, which is a hardly-existing entity run by… care to guess? Yup… Prescott. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but somehow, I think I’ll be right about it, which is math that shows only one winner (and it isn’t the Bahamas).

So, we started out with an effort to severely limit DIY and ended up with a power play to financially benefit a few of the chosen PLP anointed. It was always about money and power to one degree or another.

How this thing is enforced is going to determine how bad it gets for the Bahamas. If some wayward flats fisherman gets put in jail for 6 months or if anglers on their own get harassed, it is going to be bad.

Lodges may see a little dip in business, as the tenor and tone of the regulations are not friendly and the intent of their creator is clearly xenophobic and malevolent, but if you were going to spend a week at Bairs or Andros South or Delphi or wherever, this will add just a few dollars to a several thousand dollar tab and you might not notice anything. It is the folks lower on the totem that will go without the business.

It has been a mess and has eaten up more time than I’ve spent fishing this year. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong on all my doomsaying. I’d love nothing more than to be wrong.

Dec 16

How it happens – Bahamas Edition

How could the government of the Bahamas possibly think of taking away the birthright of their citizens to go out and fish in their back yard? How could they exclude so many from coming to the Bahamas to fish to enrich a very, very few? How could they consolidate power into a few chosen hands?


The Prime Minister of the Bahamas and the guy who wants to control the flats fishing industry.

The Prime Minister of the Bahamas and the guy who wants to control the flats fishing industry.

This is how.

They are in cahoots. They are working together.

I think it is no accident that our pal Prescott here started work on a fueling station in Andros far in advance of the recent proposal to allow the Chinese in to rape assist the Bahamians with a bit of fishing. Even if that proposal doesn’t end up going through, there is certainly a cronyism thing going on there in the Bahamas with the PLP.

Pretty sad for the Bahamas.

Nov 16

Bahamas Regulations, Episode 834


For the love of all that is holy and good… I want this to end. But, the forces of darkness (or, in this case, the force of darkness, singular) never seem to sleep.

Happy in the Bahamas, a scene not likely to be repeated.

Happy in the Bahamas, a scene not likely to be repeated.

There is a new draft (that link should take you there) of the regulations as a result of back-door dealing from he-who-must-not-be-named.

Here are the take-aways, as far as I can see them.

  1. Oh Bahamians… look out. This idea that the Shell Man from Andros now has to pay $40 to fish the waters his father and his father’s father fished for free… that idea is back and it comes with the possibility of a $2,000 fine AND/OR 6 weeks in jail. Really, I think the average Bahamian has zero clue this is coming.
  2. BIIIIIIG Middle finger to second home owners and ex-pats. You can’t fish out of a boat with more than one person without a guide. So… if you’ve lived in the Bahamas for 30 years, you can’t take your wife out fishing. All those guys who spend the money to build or buy a house out there and pay the huge fees involved with getting a boat out there… all that is wasted money if this passes. I have to think the economic impact of second home owners and ex-pats is just nowhere on the radar of the segment of the government that is pushing this stuff.
  3. Enshrined, but not named. The BFFIA is pretty well installed as the decider of most things in this, all without being named. This sets H-W-M-N-B-N as the king-maker, without it being clearly stated that is what is going on. Of course, not like he’s not a vindictive, grudge-carrying, score-settling asshole of the highest magnitude, right? I mean… what could go wrong?

I, along with just about everyone else, thought this stuff was put to bed. It isn’t. At this point I’m not sure where it goes now or what the next steps are. I understood this was in the cabinet, and maybe it is. It isn’t law yet, I know that. But exactly where it is in process… man, I’ve lost the thread.

An interesting aside is that Minister Gray seems to be pushing a massive investment by the Chinese in Andros, all at the same time he’s pushing taking away the rights of the average Bahamian to fish their own waters for free. People are really not a fan of this latest Minister Gray ploy.

Just to be a little bit of a conspiracy freak here… who is building a fuel station in Andros? Could it be our old pal Prescott? Think he knew about this secret deal being in the works with the Chinese and his patron, Minister Gray? Doesn’t seem so far fetched, does it? The guardian of the bonefish, strips out a bunch of mangroves to put in a fueling station in Andros to service the soon-to-arrive Chinese fleets? I hope not.


Jul 16

The Sound and the Fury of PS

If we are happy about the direction of the regulations in the Bahamas, you can bet that our our pal, PS, is not… and he really, really is not. Below, I quote his open letter to Minister Grey. If you read it, and it is not a fun thing to do, just keep in mind he doesn’t seem to call out any one provision to argue against (except the price of the license, which he compares to Colorado, but gets the details wrong). His arguments are nebulous, difficult to get a grasp on, which is pretty much how he’s carried out his opposition to the counter proposals to his own the entire time.

Um... isn't that they guy saying we are all doing it wrong?

Um… isn’t that they guy saying we are all doing it wrong?

The way you should argue is to call out a provision and let us know what impact you think it would have and then suggest an alternative and state why you think it is superior. But old PS doesn’t do that. Maybe he can’t do that. Maybe his mind doesn’t work like that. I don’t know, but that sort of analytical response is something he’s never been able to do without disappearing down a rabbit hole of xenophobia, paranoia and hostility. He can’t stay focused on policy or outcome. His whole argument, for more than a year now, has just been sound and fury and raw emotion and nearly incomprehensible. I say nearly, but really, it is more like totally incomprehensible. How can one person say so much while saying so little?

One can only hope he stand by his threat to resign from the BFFIA. It would be in the best interest of Bahamians, of the guides who work to find us fish so hard in the Bahamas and for us, the clients and customers of those guides, who, together, make up the industry.


Dear Prime Minister, Minister Gray and other Cabinet Ministers,

The only thing I have left to give this country is MY LIFE. As I sit here in Colorado, returning home sometime this evening, I have been bombarded from Fly Fishing Guides all around The Bahamas who are screaming about a press Conference held in Orlando at the world’s largest Sportfishing show. THIRTEEN YEARS AGO, I came to The Cabinet of the same PLP Government to get basic legislation done to protect the LARGEST FLATS ON EARTH in the interest of BAHAMIANS and to legitimize the Guiding profession.

Minister Gray, it is a total insult for your PS to be doing a press Conference side by side with The Out Island Promotion Board. The same Minister of Tourism, who has shown ZERO Support 13 years ago for Legislation in the interest of Bahamians, is the same Minister of Tourism who has fought us today every step of the way.

As President of The Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association, I will not be a part of any such Legislation that SELLS out Bahamian interest and GIVES control of our resources to foreign interest and special interest. ALL present promotion Boards of Tourism have fought us every step of the way trying to block this Legislation. They are totally Controlled by special interest and foreign interest who see Bahamians as playing a token role in our number ONE INDUSTRY. BFFIA is the first and only Association in the Country where the Board is controlled and made up of Bahamians who look like the majority of the citizens of The Bahamas. Ironically, it is the only such association that gets zero SUPPORT from our PLP Minister of Tourism and our Ministry of Tourism in general, which claims to put Bahamians first.

Further, this is not a threat, although you may see it as one. In light of these developments, I am prepared to Resign publicly and let The Bahamian people know that after 23 years and going through 7 Ministers of Tourism, we are still struggling in OUR COUNTRY to get through the many GLASS CEILINGS that exist for OUR PEOPLE with respect to real economic empowering opportunities. We pander too much to the special and foreign interests, as if we are like little children who are afraid to cut our own path in life.

My Return home today will be met by hundreds of Guides from Inagua to Grand Bahama who are questioning whether the Government, which was the same with successive Administrations, truly has their best interests at heart.

As you can see, I have attached a fishing license from Colorado, which cost me 14 dollars for a one day license and raises a serious question. Why is our Government telling the world that we will charge 20 dollars a week to fish the best flats in the world? Again the special interests, who totally control our Ministry of Tourism, is advising The Bahamas Government, because we lack the much needed confidence in our own.

[Bjorn – a comment – I see a CO week license at $21, according to their website. A day is $9. So, even the stuff it would be easy to get right, he gets wrong.]

Minister Wilchombe, I have been in Andros now for 23 years, which as you know is the largest island in The Bahamas. It follows, therefore, that I have NEVER seen The Ministry of Tourism hold a single meeting collectively with regards to addressing Tourism on Andros. Even though we have the most Guides in The Country, we have one Family that came from Canada dictating to your Ministry what should happen in Tourism on Andros. They have now been joined by a token black Member of that Board who is prepared to sell her Country and her Soul to the special and foreign interests for pecuniary and non-pecuniary benefits no doubt. Is it any wonder that we are no longer number one in the Caribbean the way we run Tourism in our Country? You have not even shown the common courtesy of acknowledging a single communication from The Board of The Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association, while publicly claiming to put Bahamians FIRST.

Also Cabinet Ministers, you need to know that such persons, like Perk Perkins from Orvis, Ian Davis from Yellowdog Fly fishing, Oliver White the front for Abaco Lodge and Bairs Lodge, are some of the many special interests behind the scenes advising our Ministry of Tourism. Jim Klug, who is part owner of Yellowdog, is also on the Board of The American Fly Fishing Trade Association. It was, therefore, no surprise that they all sat in the room in Orlando yesterday.

Finally Mr. Prime Minister, you had the courage to put this vital piece of Legislation on the agenda to move it forward and, Minister Gray, you have had the courage to lead this important Legislation when our Minister of Tourism fought us every step of the way. So that you are aware, I got instructions from The Father of our nation, as he sat in a van in Staniard Creek and shared with me his vision for Bahamians and The Bahamas. All his books I have read and are in my possession! While he began the journey that led initially to our political independence, he acknowledged that the next step in our journey was and remains economic independence. A Country and People cannot be empowered when its resources are controlled for the benefit of the special and foreign interests, as is sadly the present economic model in our beloved country. Needless to say, this is for ALL of you in Cabinet who like to call Sir Lynden’s name but refuse to live up to what he was really all about. From the College of The Bahamas to the Defence force to the many other institutions he established, this Historic Legislation is a part of the journey to reach true economic independence .


Yours sincerely,

Prescott Smith
Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association
P O Box CB-13498
Nassau, Bahamas

Jul 16

How close we came

Happy in the Bahamas, a scene now likely to be repeated.

Happy in the Bahamas, a scene now likely to be repeated.

Reflecting on the news that the proposed regs look, really, pretty good, I think it makes sense to look at the ideas that got shed from the start, through the middle and to the (possible) end of this process.

  • Guides issue licenses – This could have let a guide just decide not to give you a license, meaning you couldn’t plan a trip because you could get there and find no one wanted to give you a license.
  • The Box – there were going to be set areas for DIY, not the best, and that would be it.
  • No DIY on certain Islands – Along with the boxes, some islands would have just been off limits. The whole place is open for business, willing to accept your business in whatever form you can give it.
  • BFFIA everything – At one point or another it was proposed the BFFIA would certify guides and lodges. They were going to decide where conservation money would go. They would take care of enforcement. That’s all gone. They’ll be part of it, but not all of it and it won’t be their show. If you wonder how He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named feels about the legislation, he’s on the verge of imploding over it, which I take as an excellent sign.
  • No Confusing License Scheme – There was a time when you might, on a single trip, need three different licenses based on who you were fishing with. That’s gone.
  • Foreign owned lodge ban – This was never likely, but the intent was in there, even if the mechanism couldn’t work.
  • Second home owners can still fish – You can take your wife out or your buddy out if you have a house in Abaco or Exuma or Grand Bahama.

Basically, this is a straight forward proposal with all the idiocy removed. This is a pretty solid proposal and I support it. There will be a license. There will be certification and training to ensure the quality of the guides (that last Abaco trip I had maybe 6 or 7 guys tell me they were “guides,” who clearly were not, so that seems a good thing).

The Bahamas’ fly fishing industry has been saved (for now, at least).

What this means to me is that I will go back to the Bahamas. I will go back with my family for family trips. I will go back and fish with guides, at lodges and on my own. It means the Bahamas can continue to be a special place for me and I’ll continue to enjoy its places and people.

I’m happy for my Bahamian friends and I’m happy for my fishing friends.

There are very real threats to the Bahamas, mostly from over-development and industrial exploitation. We have to continue to watch these things and use our muscle, when we can, to keep things in the Bahamas as beautiful and pristine as possible.


Jul 16

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.


Jul 16

News pending tomorrow

Well, it has been quiet here at Bonefish on the Brain world headquarters, but I suspect there will be news tomorrow. There should be news out of ICAST and I’m waiting to hear exactly what that is.

It has been a long year and I don’t expect any resolution. A shallow shoreline generally means the water is shallow too, meaning what you can’t see is often similar to what you can and what we have seen is just a long back-and-forth between Tourism (yay) and Fisheries (boo).

I do know that whatever is being announced has not been shared with the Abaco Fly Fishing Guide’s Association (we like them), which is one of those things that makes me a little uneasy.

So, we wait.

Feels like staking out a channel for tarpon and just waiting for them to show up. Long bouts of boredom followed my mere moments of thrashing, banging, crazy activity.

May 16

What Bahamians Need to Know

I write this post to the Bahamian people. I am not Bahamian. In fact, I live a long, long way from the Bahamas. There are some things I think you need to know about things going on in your country you likely don’t know much about. The reason you don’t know much about them is because they are going to be pretty bad for many of you, and, given how politics tends to work, those behind the efforts aren’t too keen to really let you know what they have in mind.

Your birthright

As a Bahamian you are born into a beautiful country. Your environment may be your greatest asset. Many of you make your living from your local waters. Many of you may do a bit of fishing to put a meal on the table. Some of you may just like to go out and fish for the joy of it.

This could be about to change. A group of fly fishing guides, together with the Ministry of Fisheries, is seeking to regulate exactly who can fish and where. A license would be required for Bahamians to fish on the “flats,” defined to encompass mostly any water that isn’t too deep (less than 6′). It could cost you $100 now to go fishing in water you’ve been able to fish for free since, well, forever. You want your wife to fish too? That’s another $100.

Your birthright, those beautiful Bahamian waters, are going to be held in reserve for those who can pay, mostly Americans and Europeans staying at expensive lodges. This might make the fishing a little bit better, in the same way there might be more American Bison if we didn’t let anyone into Wyoming, but the average Bahamian loses a right to do something you’ve been able to do since there was a Bahamas.

Feeling welcome

The full regulations are aimed more at foreign anglers than they are at locals who want to go catch a snapper. They are intended to make it harder for certain types of fishermen to choose how they experience the Bahamas. To those fishermen, many of whom have been coming to the Bahamas for years, these efforts seem very uninviting. The easy going nature of the Bahamas is being replaces by something unfriendly. The regulations say “It isn’t enough for you to spend your money in the Bahamas, it has to be with us.”

This is going to result in lost business for the independent guides, for the guest houses and smaller hotels, for the car rentals and boat rentals and little restaurants. Anglers that come with their families and want a relaxing vacation with a couple days of fishing in the mix, those guys are not pleased and may not return.

What it isn’t about

The regulations are not about preserving the fish. Nothing in the regulations does anything to address habitat loss, what is most likely the main threat to bonefish in the Bahamas. When it comes to sustainable fisheries, the issue of illegal fishing by Dominican factory ships is 1,000x more important, and these rules would do nothing to address any of that.

The opposition to the regulations isn’t about having to pay for a license. Anglers would happily pay a license if it were reasonable, easy to obtain and went to support the health of the fishery.

What your visitors are saying

Here are some comments by fisherman. These are just a few. There are many, many more. It is going to be a disaster for the average Bahamian.

Well written article which clearly states the outcome of passing these shortsighted “regulations”. It is abundantly clear to an outsider, the proposed regulations are are power grab attempt by a few. This group hopes to push all anglers into hiring guides, charge exorbitant fees which will enrich their coffers and in general push the DIY anglers out of the Bahamas. There is a distinct xenophobic cast to the whole business.


The fallout from Prescott’s selfie move will be worse, we think than anyone planned. Looking at his now shrunken by 80% BFFIA members, we see some pretty good guys caught up in this mess. Too bad.


I am continued to be amazed/dumbfounded by the lack of foresight by the policy makers in the Bahamas. Sure there will be lots of people that still go and fish via the lodge route. That is what I have done in the past. But I will tell you it is completely off my list for family trips or a buddies DIY trip. AND I live in Florida.


Simply put my wife and I go to the Bahamas every winter for a week or so, she reads and I fish – always catch and careful release.
Last year it was Long Island, during a time of low travelers as the island recovered from the hurricane.
The people we me seemed very glad we were there…

The consequence or mere possiblity of being hassled or worse for wading a flat is too much for me to risk to re-visit the Bahamas.
Frankly the whole thing is in the “hard to believe” colum.

Count me wading somewhere else. Thumbs down!!


What I find funny is the BFFIA wants to be part of the “policing” in all of this. Which you and I know means they will chase and harass any visiting angler that appears to be fishing on their own, even legally, until the BFFIA gets what they want: them to literally leave the water and never return again so that BFFIA and their members have a monopoly on everything.


I think the worst part for me is the ambiguity. I do DIY (mostly on E but was planning a trip to Cat) and I mostly bonefish but I also do blind casting. How is this covered? Definitely will look somewhere else.


Tell Minister Gray and the BFFIA that there is a real cost to their maneuvering and efforts to extract more dollars from traveling anglers – if enough anglers contemplating the Andros trip do as I am doing and stay away, the trip will be cancelled and $40,000 less will flow into the Bahamas this year. It’s too bad, because the pain will be borne most heavily by the lovely family that runs the lodge, not Minister Gray.


May 16

The Clock Running Out & The Quebec Connection

BTT doing work

BTT doing work

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust just recently put out a response to the Fisheries proposed regs. You can read them here.

The Abaco Fly Fishing Guide’s Association also submitted a lengthy rebuttal to the proposed regulations. Here is a link to their response (It is too long to post here, but this is a PDF of their reply).

Here is the thing. These thoughtful and well-intended responses to the proposed legislation don’t matter at all… and that underscores exactly how bad this whole situation is.

Minister Gray and Prescott Smith don’t care what BTT or the AFFGA have to say. In fact, much of what is in the proposals seems aimed at directly negatively impacting both organizations and their constituents. Abaco guides are on the outs with the BFFIA-crew and their interests are not important to the likes of Prescott Smith. Only Prescott’s interests are important to Prescott. And BTT? You notice how when BTT lists the people in the Bahamas who work with them, who help them fulfill their mission there is a stark lack of participation from the BFFIA folks? I have noticed. The BFFIA seems to view BTT, a bonefish conservation nonprofit, with suspicion and distrust and with the totally delusional idea that they could do what BTT is doing themselves (they can’t… not by a long, long way).

This “comment period” (which closes in the next couple days) is a sham because those asking for comment have no interest in hearing anyone’s concerns. Their minds are made up and all that is left is this farce of a process of consultation.

The cliff note version of my take on the proposals looks like this.

  • This is an attempt to set up the BFFIA as King Makers in the flats fishing industry in the Bahamas. Enshrined by Fisheries, the BFFIA would run the show. This is an organization which has shown nothing but contempt for their customers and those who disagrees with them.
  • This is an effort to take a birthright away from the average Bahamian and sell it off to the global elites. Bahamians forced to buy a license to fish the water out their front door is something I could not have imagined. They have no idea this is coming either.

(Really, I’m tired of writing about this stuff, but, ya know… this is kind of what it’s about right now)

Flywater Travel can take you to fish Atlantic Salmon. I totally borrowed this pic from them.

A word about the Quebec Connection

If you talk to the proponents of this newest BFFIA driven proposal, at some point someone may mention how great this whole thing works up in Quebec. Their license fee is, can you guess it? $50 a day. You can’t just walk out on the nearest river. There are some sections that are completely private, others that require a guide and others that you can walk out on, but only after you get your local permit from the local government.

This is what the BFFIA folks want. It mostly kills off the DIY game and consolidates access to the water in the hands of the wealthy and those who take them fishing.

This starts to fall apart though when one looks into it more.

First, before about 1980 all the rivers in Quebec were, more or less, private. The locals had no access. There was no economy dependent on the unimpeded access to those waters. There was no tangential tourism industry to kill. In the Bahamas there has been a long history of anglers coming and trying their luck on the Bahamian flats and there are a number of businesses which have grown up to cater to those anglers. Independent guides, guest houses, restaurants, car rental places and boat rentals. They all stand to lose and there was no such situation in Quebec, so the comparison is deeply flawed.

Secondly, bonefish are not Atlantic Salmon. Some of those rives may only get a couple thousand fish in a season. I’ve seen schools of fish in Andros with more fish in them than some of the best rivers in Quebec see in a whole year… in a whole YEAR. Take all the fishable water in Quebec for Atlantic Salmon and how much water would you actually have? I’d think you’d have more fishable water in a single Bahamian island. Atlantic salmon are also swimming to their death (they may survive the first spawn and head back out to the Atlantic, but most only spawn once or twice). It is a fish that requires a lot of management and is in a far, far worse state than bonefish are.

It just isn’t the same thing.

May 16

Bahamas Winners and Losers

If the regulations proposed by the BFFIA and Fisheries passes there will be some winners and some losers. It is worth looking at the breakdown, as I see it.




Lodges – Yes, lodges will win in this scenario. They get rid of a great number of anglers, even locals, and get the waters mostly to themselves. The threat of harassment, the complicated license fees, the massive possible fines will keep DIY guys off the water, in large part. That means the water will be less pressured and the safest way to access any of it will be via a lodge with the lodge guides. This is the Quebec version of fisheries management.

The BFFIA – Made kingmakers by this legislation, they would get to determine who guides and who doesn’t. It puts them, and our good pal Prescott, in a position of power and authority to be able to dictate to the guiding community.

Cuba, Belize, Mexico – Those who don’t go to the Bahamas will go other places. Even if the DIY game is not the same, the animosity being created will keep some folks away, but they’ll still go fishing, just other places.

Um… I can’t see any other winners here.


Independent guides – The folks that came with their families and wanted to grab a day with a guide in addition to a little walking around on their own will, to one degree or another, go somewhere else. Having to get two different licenses for the different types of fishing isn’t great either. There will be fewer days of guiding for indie guides.

Assisted DIY providers – A different license, a different classification and having to deal with the BFFIA make this a much harder business to run under the newest proposed regs.

Smaller hotels/guest houses – Those places the families and DIY folks stayed at won’t get that business.

Small businesses – Some of the families who come to do some fishing and other activities will go other places, so fewer meals to be sold, fewer cars to be rented, fewer Kaliks to be sold.

Second home owners – A place like Abaco has a number of second home owners, some of whom have their own boats. They wouldn’t be able to fish with anyone else unless they hire a guide. It will likely mean some interesting places will be on the market though.

Bahamas Environment – If you have fewer people experiencing the wonders of the Bahamas, you’ll have fewer people who will care if some of that is destroyed. If fishing becomes less of an economic boost, other industries will fill the void and exploit the resource and cries to stop that will fall on ears slightly deafened by the reduction in the importance of angling. People fight for what they care about and they care about the things they know.

Bonefish research – The BFFIA is pretty much openly hostile to “American” science, even if Bahamians are deeply involved. If you look at who participates with the BTT you’ll notice a conspiciuos lack of BFFIA leadership.

Anyone who has disagreed with the BFFIA – The leadership here seems to really know how to carry a grudge. I can’t imagine they would use their new powers lightly. Maybe not immediately, but I’d bet some of the opposing forces would find it harder to do business if this sort of thing gets passed.

The average Bahamian – It has always been the case that the average Bahamian could walk out on their local flat, maybe right in front of their home, and fish. This changes that. Is that water considered a “flat?” Well, pay up or you can’t fish there. Considering how much of the Bahamas could be considered flats, that is a huge part of the country. I can’t imagine the local Bahamians have any idea they are about to have one of their birthrights stolen from right under their noses.


It is important to note that the proposed legislation does not outlaw DIY fishing, it just makes it much less appealing. The multiple licenses, the draconian fines, the possibility of being harassed on the flats, it all makes it likely to keep some people from heading to the Bahamas. Some business will continue to flow, but other business will dry up.