Following the international bitchstorm that’s been brewing around the future of Bahamas flats fisheries—inclemencies mostly attributed to the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association’s nationalistic grandstanding—some sensible communications have recently come to light. Last week, Tribune 242, a Nassau-based publication, reported that The Department of Marine Resources has “pretty much determined” that persons will need to pony up for licenses if they intend on flyfishing in the Bahamas.

Moreover, Minister Michael Braynen told attendees at an Abaco Business Outlook conference that the fees collected from licenses would go directly toward conservation, research, and enforcement activities related to the habitats that support flyfishing in the Bahamas.

“Our ministry recognizes, and I think the government recognizes, that the flats fishing industry is an important part of the tourism product of the Bahamas, and the persons engaged in this fishing activity are almost exclusively visitors to the Bahamas who pursue their fishing passion in locations throughout the country,” he said.

Beyond the obvious need for fishing licenses and associated fees, something we Americans already pay for on homewaters, as well as when we visit foreign flats destinations like Mexico and Belize, the minister also addressed do-it-yourself sticking points—and the overall intent suddenly looks a lot less sinister.

DIY flats angling is a significant revenue generator in the Bahamas—tens of millions of dollars annually—and those anglers make up a large portion of all anglers traveling to the country to stalk bonefish in skinny water.

Regarding DIY, Braynen noted, “The feedback from visitors and stakeholders has clearly indicated that persons fishing without guides form a significant portion of the sector, and many persons routinely use a guide for portions of their visit and to fish without guides for the remainder.

“Given the significance of the DIY portion of the sector, the management measures being contemplated now will require these fishers to obtain a personal license to engage in flats fishing, provide access by these fishers to all fishing flats except those under special management, and also ensure that DIY fishers have the latest information with regard to catch and release methods and fishing etiquette in the Bahamas.”

In Brief:

License would be made available online, and persons arriving in the Bahamas and deciding they want one should be able to get one from border control.

Licenses for professional Bahamas-based fishing guides would be required.

License fees would vary depending on the duration of the license: a day, a week, a month, or six months.

Children under the age of 12 would not have to pay for a license.

Fees collected from licenses would be used directly for conservation and research and enforcement activities that support flyfishing in the Bahamas.

U.S. dollars, and conch shells “in decent shape,” would be considered acceptable forms of payment. 

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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