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.



  1. Well done analysis. I had no idea the BFFIA was using Quebec as an example. It’s not a comparable situation! Hopefully the opposing forces in the Bahamas will push back these proposals as they indicated a few months back. Thank for keeping an eye on this.

  2. Jonathan Winthrop

    Having been a salmon angler for almost 40 years, and 95% of that in Quebec, I feel I am in a position to agree with you. Certainly, the life cycle of Atlantic Salmon could not be further from that of the Bonefish, and it is the perils along the course of Salmo’s migrations which have caused a catastrophic decline in their numbers since the ’60s. Your observation of the health, indeed worldwide distribution, of Bonefish underscores this difference. The science undertaken by BTT supports your point.

    While not trying to undermine any of your argument, I would note that the Atlantic Salmon Federation under took an economic study a few years ago (The Gardner Pinfold report) which analyzed the beneficial economic impact of sport angling in the Province of Quebec. The finding of the report, and ASF’s hard science, have been instrumental in directing policy at both Provincial and Federal levels.

    And here is another difference between Canada and what appears to be the case in the Bahamas: Our political neighbors to the north are willing to listen to science based and fact based arguments from highly credible NGOs, in particular the ASF and The North Atlantic Salmon Fund. Why is it that the Bahamian Government and the appropriate ministers do not acknowledge and accept the credibility of BTT and its excellent research findings?

  3. As an avid west coast steelheader and flats fisherman I have fished Acklins extensively plus many other flats sites but have never fished Quebec – and likely never will – the regs are way too complicated and seem to keep everything to the elite – and it is in my own country!!!!!!
    Heaven help the average Bahamian if this scenario comes true in their country

  4. The key to turning around economic policy you do not agree is to vote with your wallet.

    I’ve taken many trips to the Bahamas and dropped plenty of $$ there. I have no issue with a fishing license and applaud that. Hopefully that money will fund enforcement and the rouge netting that goes on in Andros by non-Bahamians. As for the rest of this crazy policy, if it’s enacted, I’m not going to the Bahamas. I’ve stayed at Prescott Smith’s lodge in the past. Never again.

    Like bad economic policy in the US, the sad part is, it always hurts the folks at the bottom of the ladder.

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