Regulations will be established to protect the country's most popular sports.
The regulations came into effect January 9, 2017 as a culmination of months of work between The Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources and the Ministry of Tourism. These are the first regulations around the fly fishing industry in The Bahamas, aimed to ensure a sustainable development of the industry for both businesses and anglers.
The new regulations:
- Require anglers over 12 years old, who wish to fish in the flats, to apply for a personal angler's license and pay a prescribed fee. Non-Citizens must pay $15 for a day license, $20 for a week long license, $30 for a month, and $60 for a year long license.
- Require a foreign vessel wishing to fish in the flats to also obtain a sport fishing permit. In addition each person on the fishing vessel that wishes to fish the flats must have their own personal license.
- Ban commercial fishing of the flats. When catching bonefish, permit, snook, cobia, and tarpon it is now catch and release only.
The regulations are designed to protect the flats fish for generations of anglers to enjoy. Bonefish and tarpon populations are dropping around the world in locations where they are not protected. In Florida due to habitat loss the fish are threatened but are making a come back. Similar protection laws are in place in certain locations in Cuba where the bonefish are thriving. The other locations that are not protected; not so much.
Tourism is the major industry of The Bahamas and fishing accounts for 20% of tourist expenditures on recreational activities. With the total income generated directly from fishing according to a 2008 report being just below $70 million. The Bahamas are known for their world class bonefishing fishery that generates a lot of revenue; no wonder they wish to protect it.