Stalking the elusive bonefish with a fly rod across a clear water flats is an ethereal experience, and The Bahamas is one of the world’s finest bonefishing destinations. And what could be better for the Bahamian economy than to have foreign flats fishers spending plenty of money to fish and release their catch? The best thing is that the fishers get their money’s worth—they fish in a beautiful environment, catch plenty of fish and get to spend hours with skilled Bahamian guides.
With good reason, The Bahamas wants to regulate the flats fishery (bonefish, tarpon, permit, and more) to be sure that it is safe and sustainable.
The Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and local government have recently proposed new regulations for flats fishing in The Bahamas. The important sections of the proposed bill include:
• Foreigners must have a flats fishing permit for each person and each foreign boat.
• Foreigners, whether fishing from a boat or wading, must employ a certified Bahamian guide for every two fishers.
• There will be a system for certification of guides. The certification will include a boat operator’s license. All guides must be Bahamian citizens.
• Bonefish lodge owners must be Bahamian citizens.
• Fifty percent of permit fees will be put directly into a new Conservation Fund.