Green Light The Bahamas

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

It’s time to check in on the status of Bahamian fishing regulations.

I get emails every week asking if foreigners are allowed to fish in the Bahamas. As of now, all of the news is good. There’s been very little talk of changes to existing regulations since the big uproar on the part of the angling community in response to last year’s draft proposal. There have been rumors of a vote early this year, but it seems unlikely.

Currently, there is no change in Bahamian fishing regulations, nor does any change seem likely. There are no restrictions on DIY fishing, foreign-owned outfitters, guide licensing or even a Bahamian fishing license. It’s business as usual.

I was in the Bahamas not long ago and talked with many of my friends there, Bahamian and non-Bahamian.

I was a little surprised by what I heard. Generally when you talk politics with folks in the Bahamas you get an almost dispassionate acceptance of government corruption. They are very engaged in their politics but they accept that the government is going to do what they want, with or without the people’s support, and roll with it.

Not so in this case. The folks I talked to seem to be more sharply divided than I’ve experienced. I talked with guides on both sides of the issue. Some were vocally against the proposals made last year. Those were the loudest voices, likely because they knew where I stand on the issue. Others spoke out in favor and a few tried to bullshit me, even though I could tell they knew it was pointless. One thing is certain, they all understand how foreign anglers feel about it. I don’t think they will forget soon.

Our message came through loud and clear.

I’ll give you a little bit of inside info. It’s hear-say and I can’t prove it, so take it for what it’s worth. When I published Sarah Grigg’s excellent article on the politics behind the proposal, I said I thought emailing the Bahamian ministers was a waste of time and asked readers to email the U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas. A week later I spoke to a friend who is American and owns a lodge in the Bahamas. He told me this.

“Guess who called me today? The U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas. He told me that even though the bonefishing business is small, there are some very large U.S. Companies involved in it, and the U.S. Government is in no way interested in a precedent for the nationalization of U.S. interests in the Bahamas, and I have nothing to worry about.”

516aa08fe6b6bd52dc53ae8c5b37fc2bTake that for what you will. This is total supposition on my part, but a buddy of mine recently took a Disney cruise with his family which included a day of bonefishing with a Disney guide. All I’m saying is, the mouse gets the cheese.

About that same time, Hurricane Joaquin trounced a good portion of the Bahamas. Hurricanes are a fact of life in the islands but they are costly. A small island nation with limited resources, when hit by a natural disaster, relies heavily on foreign aid. I think Joaquin was a reminder to the Bahamians that it’s best to be friendly with your neighbors. Especially when your economy is based on tourism.

It’s anyone’s guess what will eventually happen with Bahamian fishing regulations.

The Bahamas is a sovereign nation and governs itself. That said, these ill-considered and xenophobic proposals calling for an end to DIY angling and foreign-owned lodges seem to be on the ropes. I think it’s safe to plan your Bahamas fishing trips for the coming year. All signs are that the Bahamians have remembered why they loved us in the first place.

Go fish in the Bahamas. It’s the most beautiful place in the world, the people really are wonderful, and you really are welcome.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “Green Light The Bahamas

  1. I really think your stuff is great! That said, would like to see a 7 wt. switch Rod shoot out from you!
    Please keep the information flowing! We all respect your opinion !

  2. Should we support a fishing license with the understanding that the fees will help protect the fishing grounds? I pay a tariff everywhere else I fish and hunt and expect that in return someone with a badge may show up to protect the resource from being plundered. Our guides last year mentioned that there is a problem with non-Bahamian fisherman doing a snatch and run on Bahamian fish.

  3. I don’t mind paying a license fee as long as it is reasonable. I do think that I do not want to try and deal with the Bahamians straightforward with a large deposit check and no guarantee that it is guaranteed. It’s too bad that people have respectable businesses and that is in jeopardy. Glad that this year is open for going, went to Belize and fishing was subpar due to filth in the mangroves.

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