Fly fishing sanction suspension questioned by opposition

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis questioned the government’s reasoning behind the suspension of fly fishing regulations, after a recently reported 40 per cent fall in bonefish lodge bookings.

“They (the government) claim they suspended the regulations because there was about a 40 per cent decrease in the fly fishing business,” Davis said.

“We do not agree with that assertion. What empirical data can the government produce to support that decision? We were informed the fly fishing business has never been better.

“We object to the suspension.”

A statement released by the Abaco Fly Fishing Association (AFFA) last month said, “Bone fishing lodges on Andros and Long Island, as well as the US-based Bahamas booking agents, report declines in bookings of 20 to 40 per cent or more, which means guides and staff are not working as many hours this year and our taxi drivers are losing business.”

“Without the influx of operating capital by the foreign anglers being spread throughout the communities,” the statement continued, “houses are being left unfinished, medical care is put off and plans are put on hold because of lack of income.

“The job of caring for one’s family and raising children has gotten harder because of the flats fishing regulations, as noted by one lodge owner on Andros.”

According to the association, the decline is alarming, considering anglers are still fly fishing in other countries including Cuba, Belize, Mexico, and Central America.

Despite the backlash, Davis defended the PLP’s  attempt while in office, to reserve the regulation.

“During our last term in office, we put in place specific regulations to govern this industry. The intent of the regulation was to protect Bahamian jobs, and reserve the fly fishing flats for future generations to create another stream of revenue for that industry,” he said.

Davis suggested, instead of the regulations being suspended, the government could have “tweaked or improved” them. He explained that business in the fly fishing industry has been just fine throughout the years.

“Business in 2017 was better than 2016, and business in 2018 is better than 2017.”

Non-Bahamians are required to pay $15 for a daily license; $20 for a weekly license; $30 for a monthly license; and $60 for an annual license.

After the suspension of the industry was reported, the PLP  deemed the act as “madness” and accused the Minnis administration of not looking out for the Bahamian people.