Bahamas Draft Fishing Regulations – Newest Version



Thought I would get this out as quickly as possible and let everyone have a look at it.

I had to laugh at myself and the obvious Freudian error as I was typing the title for the Blog.

When I went to proof read it I had typed…”Bahamas Daft Fishing Regulations”……quickly inserted an “r'” where required, but it did make me wonder if my fingers were simply expressing themselves.

Anyway, no comments from me. I will let you read, digest and come to your own conclusions.

All comments are welcome. Can’t say if this is the final yet, but it must be coming close.

Draft Bahamas Fishing Regulations


Flyfishing for bonefish is my passion. Over the last twenty years I've waded flats throughout the world and honestly can't wait to see the next one. Of the 3-4 months I spend in the tropics each year I divide my fishing time between lodges, independent guides and self-guided.
  1. Kevin Becker Reply

    OK, this is more of the same and pretty much a failure at all levels for understandable regulations.
    The license fees have all been changed since the last proposal I read. They went from $70 annual for non-residents to $400. Also, This is for DIY angling. They also have a non-resident license if fishing with a guide. No where does it explain if you need both licenses.
    They do outline stiff jail sentences, if you cannot interpret what the laws are are trying to enforce.
    If you are fishing from a boat without a guide, you better be by yourself or you could land yourself in a Bahamian jail. Happy Holidays!

  2. Tony Brown Reply

    “TIB, Mon!” This is the Bahamas!

    • Kevin Becker Reply

      TIB Mon – ??????????????????????

  3. Frank D Reply

    I read the draft a couple of times, and had a look at the fee schedule. It seems obvious (to me) that the Bahamians really don’t want the economic activity provided by DIY anglers. Having a “guide assisted” license and a “DIY ” license with different fee schedules seems overly complicated to me. I was thinking of the Bahamas as a destination, but this draft pretty much convinces me to look elsewhere. They are killing their own industry.

    • michael Reply

      Totally agree with you they have been killing tourism for years but why people keep going back beats me.

  4. Steve Shirley Reply

    So if I read this right, as Kevin suggested, I need two licenses to fish with both a guide and DIY and the overall fee for licensing has gone way up, if I remember from several years ago. And since I go for atleast a week at a time, I will need a weeklong guide license as the days fished may change based on weather, as just happened to me two times in a week in TCI. I don’t see anything limiting the specific areas where you can DIY, correct? But it seems as if there are more pages spent on fining the crap out of you (thievery, IMHO) then on anything else. I think that clearly reveals their intent!

    • Jeff Melrose Reply

      ‘Intent’ implies that they have a clue about what they are doing. This is clearly not well thought out. Most people who use a guide and go to the trouble of bringing gear aren’t going to fish just once or twice with a guide. They obviously will fish on their own even if that means for 1hr or 2 near the resort/condo/house that they have paid good $ to stay at. The need to purchase multiple licenses is ridiculous. I would suggest that at least that section needs reworking. Additionally, ‘Jail time’ for fishing…..REALLY?

  5. Roy Nichols Reply

    Like Kevin said, the fee proposals have ski-rocketed. Not impressed. We used to rent a small boat when we were on Long Island for a few days but that is out the window now. $250 for a month, not sure if I want to swallow that next year as I usually spend 5 to 6 weeks there. And I am a Canadian and that 250 suddenly turns into well over $300 for me. I wonder if there is any way to voice my displeasure. Anyways there are other places to go.

  6. Steve Shirley Reply

    I sent this to the Fisheries ministry in the Bahamas
    To whom it may concern,
    I have read your latest draft of regulations for flats fishing and am concerned that, like your previous effort, this fails to establish reasonable and affordable flats fishing. It appears that a non-resident would have to purchase two licenses if they are using a guide and fishing on their own, something I am unaware that exists anywhere in the world. Your license for fishing without a guide (DIY) is also more expensive. It is obviously your intention to charge people who fish by themselves more for doing so! The fees for a yearly non-resident are approaching the level of being ridiculous (and they do not apply to me).
    I also find that your fines for not following the regulations are exorbitant and not consistent with the infraction, especially if you do not have a license on you, but have one elsewhere (like in another shirt pocket you just changes out of).
    I highly recommend you review your proposed regulations with changing these peculiar and unattractive provisions.
    Steve Shirley

    • michael Reply

      Writing to these ‘so called ministers’ is a waste of time, they are not interested in tourists, they are in it for themselves, it’s all about money with Bahamians and they are certainly not interested in the ‘Family Islands’.

    • Jeff Melrose Reply

      I completely agree!
      Thanks for sending that letter!
      Can you please post the contact info for the Fisheries Ministry of the Bahamas so that others can also voice their concerns with the proposed regulations/ fee and fine structures?

      • Jeff Melrose

        Sorry just saw that you already did so. Thanks!

  7. Dave Smethurst Reply

    Jeesh. Can you post contact info in the appropriate ministry. My assumption is that some of the same guide people are still trying to soak us.

  8. Russell Richards Reply

    It seems the BFFIA have been instrumental in the updating of this latest draft- to include them as a defined authority with it seems an unlimited ability to charge guides fees at will to become approved is going to go down like a lead balloon with the guiding community.

    As a non resident boat owning fisherman the previous draft was a disaster. The current draft, if I read it correctly, requires me to get my boat licensed as a ‘sports fishing vessel’, whatever that may entail and then ensure anyone fishing from the boat is the holder of a personal licence. So far probably OK.

    But then there is the catch in clause 4a requiring me to have a guide unless I am on my own (clause 5) . That’s a shame as my wife, a non fisherperson, likes to come out and walk the beaches whilst I fish. Clause 5 at least needs to refer to fishermen not ‘persons’.

    So this is me- I spend a fortune on a house here, pay the 10% stamp duty, buy a boat pay the 45% import duties get the boat licensed and buy a personal licence and at last take the wife out for a trip down the coast- cast my rod and end up as a criminal. Great- welcome to the Bahamas. OH- don’t forget the VST now as well.

    At least there is now some attempt at conservation although the main thrust seems to be the collection of levies, imposing fines and the threat of criminal prosecution. My worry will be that much will be down to the interpretation of individuals as to what constitutes an infringement etc etc. I am not certain that the Bahamas is necessarily good at implementing rules and regulations in such fine detail especially in remote communities where everyone seems to be related to everyone else and for example conch and lobster fishing out of season and undersize is frequently accepted as the norm.

    I still suspect the costs of collecting the various fees will outweigh the benefit- the whole act is still not driven by conservation but the vested interest of a small group of power and revenue hungry individuals masquerading as the BFFIA. If this all goes through I suspect their tenure will be short lived as the guiding community at large rises up against this daft legislation and the licensing powers it gives the BFFIA.

    All in all a sledgehammer to crack a nut!

  9. Peter Reis Reply

    Hey folks. Posted a bit of a rant but don’t know where it went. Anyway. Booked to go down in May. Any insight or opinion when/if this will pass?
    Tight lines. >)))))))))’>

    • michael Reply

      If it’s not too late go somewhere else, maybe Cuba, less than half the price of guides and more bigger fish!

    • Roy Nichols Reply

      You can bet your bottom dollar the guides want this in place for 2017.

  10. Todd F Reply

    sad, never going back

  11. Brian Reply

    I’m finding this easier to digest the longer it goes on. Kind of Lake a relationship breaking or a death. It hurts and you dwell on it a lot in the beginning and then not so much.
    I look for basically 2 things on any vacation.
    1. A feeling of hospitality.
    2. Perceived value (this has many layers, not just economic)
    I’m finding neither in the Bahamas. Shame, I’ve enjoyed my half dozen trips there.

    No worries, had a fantastic time in the Southern Yucatan last week. Where else can you DIY permit in the breakers??
    Hope to go back in October. Hitting Belize for 2 weeks end of June. And My place in Maine has Trout to Tuna.
    Adios BFFIA, better stock up on rice and beans. Could be/should be a long winter…

    • Steve Shirley Reply

      Where did you fish in Yucatan?

  12. Roy Nichols Reply

    The more you read thru this draft the more you can see the BFFIA has its mark all over it.
    BFFIA gets to oversee the guide licensing approval and its implementation ?!!! What could go wrong there?
    No minimum fine, just a maximum and modified one, which you pay if you don`t want any hassles. What could go wrong there?
    Fisheries officer just has to have reason to believe something happened. Some guide could make a complaint and an officer come ding you. What are you going to do? I suppose you could say screw it, I will go to court ,see you in about 3yrs.
    Residents will need a license, good luck getting a local on the island I go to to coff up $100 to fish all yr.
    I leave a lot of gear down on the island I go to each year so I will have to go back, but it will be the last time and a much shorter trip unless some common sense prevails. Don`t hold your breath.
    One more thing, we all know what happens with fees after they are implemented, it is usually not long before they jack them up.

  13. Brian Reply

    STEVE, we stated in Mahahual, but also Diy into Chec bay on west side of Xcalak.

    • Steven Shirley Reply

      I just made it back to this page. Thanks! I fished Xcalak last year and look forward to exploring Mahahual next. Cheers.

  14. Mark Soloway Reply

    Am scheduled for 10 days at Green Turtle in June. If this goes into effect by then, which I highly doubt, I’ll pay my 100 bucks and let the resort know that will be it for me as a guest. I don’t disagree with a licensing process but the proposed fees and penalties are draconian.

  15. Dave J Reply

    I don’t see why they can’t just propose a *reasonable* license fee. I routinely buy annual licenses for three states I regularly fish, and the *combined cost* of those is not even half of what the Bahamas is now proposing. And if you book a house rental that comes with a small motorboat, how will these rules apply? If my wife and I motor out to a flat, will we be breaking the law?

    The Bahamas has always had this great, laid back vibe. We have have really enjoyed our trips to the Out Islands. We decide each day, often on a whim, whether we are going to explore the island, or seriously wade and fish, or just walk the beach for an hour or two before dinner looking for something to cast to. We also book a guide for a day or two, a different experience, which is also great. We love the people who live there. But there are so many places in the world that we will never have time to fish in this lifetime, so we will focus more on those spots if these regulations become law. I’m not going to lose any sleep over this.

  16. Tim Marshall Reply

    The specific thing that now grates with me in this Draft is that an angler who uses both a guide and does DIY appears to need 2 licenses.
    The more expensive ‘DIY’ license AND the ‘guide assisted’ one.

    Do others read this the same way?


    • Jeff Melrose Reply

      Yep, seems like they want you to buy 2 licenses to me. Pretty ridiculous huh? I typically go with a guide 1-2 times during a 1 week vacation with my family and fish on my own the other days.
      It’s a shame they’ll be shooting themselves in the foot when everyone starts going elsewhere. Seems counterintuitive that the government is paying for airfare to the out islands yet levying such large fees on the very people who support the local economies of the out islands. The family islands, as they call them, aren’t looking very family like with these type of regs. I don’t oppose a reasonable daily/weekly/monthly/annual license fee but the schedule of fees and overzealous penalties, which include JAIL TIME, are ridiculous. Beautiful place to visit but there are places that are cheaper and easier to get to that will get my business if these current regs go into effect.
      Oh, and I’m sure these licenses will be very easy to get, right? I don’t think so! You can guarantee it’ll be a huge pain in the behind to get a license without a long wait and surely there will be some degree of hassle.

  17. Glenn Forbes Reply

    This BBFIA Draft is much more of an insult to anyone wishing to DIY than previous BBFIA drafts, well not really but as the intentions of the BBFIA are more clearly stated it becomes obvious to all, the intent most of us already understood. And that is to drive away all DIY of any fashion, regardless the consequences and negative economic impact too other Bahamians.

    I’m beginning to think I don’t need the Bahamas in my life…

  18. Barry Morse Reply

    Just when our friends on the islands are back in business after the hurricane and we were planning a trip to support them in the autumn, this draft raises its ugly head once again. All hope that wiser heads would prevail has gone out of the window.
    It’s going to be a tough decision to give the Bahamas a miss but I may have to. I wonder what the diy friendly lodges feel about the latest draft….
    Barry Morse.

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Hey Barry, good comments, not sure how some of them feel. Its all a bit complicated when it didn’t need to be. My two cents after considerable thought. Either ban DIY fishing and draw a line in the sand or simply put in a normal licensing system for everyone, make them simple to acquire, generate revenue and continue to create the impression you want everyone to visit. They have more or less “poked” all the bears and not made anyone happy as far as I can see. Many of the VRBO type places would include a boat with the rental…now that is out. All boat rental companies and individuals….not that is gone. DIY Lodges…I don’t know how to interpret that….if you “assist” it appears you require one guide per two anglers. They don’t do that. So…..still seems confusing. One of the issues I had raised which they have dealt with, is…..I’m on my SUP and single kayak a lot. At least that is still considered DIY and does not require a guide, as per the last Draft.

      • BFG

        I would have thought your SUP and kayak would have been classed as foreign vessels requiring sport-fishing permits?

  19. Bjorn Stromsness Reply

    A disaster. It makes me ill seeing this crap again and again. Makes me tired.

  20. Glenn Forbes Reply

    When you say “normal” do you mean like a reasonably priced general fishing license required by all for shore fishing or fishing out of a personal watercraft?
    Normal like the US and other parts of the civilized World where a license is required? Normal like having restrictions on catch and release specie and bag limits on others.
    Normal in a sense, visitors are welcome here!.. come fish and enjoy yourselves?
    Or some other normal? 🙂

  21. Roy Nichols Reply

    We can always send your comments to That might cause more of a stir if people start saying they are not returning to the islands.

  22. Malcolm Pitman Reply

    Hi All,
    I discovered fishing in Grand Bahamas 8 years ago when staying on the Island in my sisters house. I met a like minded angler that lives on the island for 4-5 months of the year. He has a small boat that is used to get around and bone fish. I come back to Grand Bahamas every year, and in the last two years twice a year for a family holiday and to fish from the beach and on occasion when the weather is good from the boat. I use a guide probably 5% of the time when fishing from the East End. Usually and expensive and not always reliable venture. I wish to continue with these activities and potentially buy a retirement home on the island. So the latest regulations are a concern, I rarely when wading ever see another fisherman and all bone fish are released. I have no problem buying a permit as I do in the US to fish, the fishing permit in the US Gulf Coast for a visitor for the season is from memory is $65.00. The fees for Grand Bahamas $250 a month x 2 for me at $500 a year and potentially making it illegal for me to fish with my friend on his Grand Bahamas registered boat. I have booked June for 4 weeks and December for 4 weeks this year, so not sure about next year with the current proposed legislation.

  23. Dave N. Reply

    Hmmmm, here’s the solution:

    Bahamas Official: Sir, I see you are fishing in the flats, may I see your DIY flats fishing license?

    Me: I do not have a flats fishing license.

    Bahamas Official: Are you aware of the flats fishing license regulations?

    Me: Yes I know the regulations very well. The regulations state that I need a license to fish for Bone Fish, Permit, Snook, and Tarpon in Bahamas waters between 1 and 6 feet deep.

    Bahamas Official: Then why don’t you have a license?

    Me: Because I’m fishing for Snapper.

    • Kevin Becker Reply

      Dave N – Yes, as far as the rules are written you are exactly correct as far as the rules that are proposed. And in America, I would be perfectly willing to execute this. However, I have seen the Bahamian Bureaucrats and they are not that friendly. They would say that you were in an area where Bonefish Frequent, with a Bonefish Fly. And then however correct you were, you may find yourself in some Bahamian Prison.

      • Dave N.

        Yes, Kevin – You are correct and of course my recommendation was in jest. That said, I’ve caught as many bone fish on jigs with a spinning rod as I have with fly casting and my wife has caught all of hers spinning with many of these in water deeper than 6 feet….

        We are sailing vessel cruisers and spend the entire winter in the tropics – alternate years in the Bahamas. In the past we have followed the rules and have obtained our Bahamas fishing license in conjunction with clearing customs on our boat – no extra fee, but a US$300 cruising permit. The “license” was good for any one aboard, including aboard our dinghy that we would take into the creeks. If adopted as proposed we’d have to get individual licenses as well as a license for our dinghy. We don’t object to paying reasonable license fees, but there is competition out there and we’ll take our tourism elsewhere. You should see the bone fish in ___________________ . (We won’t give away our secret spot.) 🙂

  24. Nevin Knowles Reply

    Mr where in the bahamas they i force laws this draft is just so someone can get they hand in the cookie jar

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Hi Nevin; great to hear from you, hope you had a good season. I guess we have to wait and see how these latest proposals play out for you. Do you see them effecting how you operate in any way or will you still be able to operate under the same business model? Assisted DIY. Do you see your anglers only needing to purchase the “guided” fishing license then? Look forward to your comments

  25. Scott McIsaac Reply

    Recently returned from one of the out islands where I spent 2 days with a guide. He was scornful of the whole licensing exercise. He thought nothing was likely to pass in the near future because the powerful guide associations on two of the out islands (don’t remember which, perhaps Abaco and Andros) disagreed with one another over whether discouraging DIY was a good idea. In the meantime his spring 2016 bookings were off 30%-40% because clients were avoiding the Bahamas because of the uncertainty. He didn’t want to speak up, though, out of fear of crossing either one or the other of the guide associations. Seems obvious to me, if not to the Bahamian authorities, that cost-sensitive DIY fishermen also comprise a significant proportion of the guides’ revenue stream, and that guides’ income will fall rather than rise if draconian DIY regulations pass.

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Hi Scott, thanks for taking the time to write a comment. This has been a long arduous process that is going to culminate who knows when and with what final legislation is anybody’s guess. I have helped and contributed my thoughts to those in government for two years now (when asked). So I do know a little about what has been transpiring. Let me share this one small point with you. Most DIY anglers hire an independent guide for a portion of their trip. That is a conclusion I had reached many years ago. And I can assure you I talk with more DIY tropical anglers then anyone else in the world. It just seemed odd to me that an independent guide would support the banning of a fishery where most of his clientele came from. There just aren’t that many die hard DIY guys that do an entire trip by themselves…Yes, a few, but most, including myself, often hire a guide for a day or two during a trip. The typical DIY guy, rents a house, rents a car, hires a guide for two days and walks a few days on his own… the majority of DIY anglers (by a multiple of ten) actually are there on a family type trip, combining non-fishing activities with fishing activities. That person, hires a guide for 1 -2 days, walks the beach for a morning or two on his own and spends quality time with non-fishing family members doing typical tropical vacation activities. I can assure you…the percentage of anglers that arrive in the Bahamas and book and independent guide for every day of their stay is few and far between. This small but important point seemed to be lost on government and indeed guides themselves….(go figure) So I did an independent analysis interviewing guides as to “what do your customers do during an average trip?” Without question the vast majority of responses were that their customers did many things on the holiday, one of which was to book a day or two with a guide. That then begs the question…….If a person cannot walk the beach in front of their house in the evening for two hours, are they still going to book a holiday at that location?” Therefore completely eliminating the 1 -2 days the guide would normally get. My analysis (which was sent to the government) showed that the banning of DIY would not increase guided days, but rather decrease guided days. There is much more to the story of course, but an economic rational for banning DIY is not one of them

      • Ted C.

        Things are getting really ugly in the Bahamas, I just returned from a two week trip in Abaco and while reading the Abaconian, a local news publication, I came across an article about a local charity organization’s chair person resignation. The organization is run by second home owners and provide needy children with clothing, school supplies, field trips, learning programs etc. The chair person announced his or her resignation because some official was quoted to publicly state that the charity program was nothing more than “an insult by disrespectful rich Americans”

        There is evident and noticeable animosity towards successful and financial independent Americans and the main focus of the draft proposal is to ban second home owners with skiffs from being able to fish on their own and with friends or even family members.
        The BFFIA president is obsessed with the dilusion that second home owners are illegaly guiding clients and therefore robbing them out of employment and is adamant about convincing the politicians. That’s obsurd considering the financial status of some of these individuals who can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars in import duty for their state of the art skiffs not to mention the value of the homes some of them live in.
        Are these people really willing to pole someone around the flats for eight hours for $500 ? What are these people thinking ?
        I’ m officially renaming it “daft proposal”.

  26. Glenn Forbes Reply

    Ted C,
    This segment of the televised interview that was aired last year said all I needed to hear, ludicrous!

    • Ted C. Reply

      Glenn, I saw all three episodes last year when they were first broadcasted. One thing I totally agree with is the lack of education and it couldn’t be more obvious than the ignorance and disrespect displayed by some of the members on that panel. Perhaps another hurricane will remind them again how valuable our foreign money really is and once again delay the process like they did last year so they can generate foreign revenue for repairs to their infrastructure.

  27. Malcolm Pitman Reply

    Hi Rod,
    As your research concludes I am one of the tourists that take my family with me, I hire a guide for a couple of days to make sure my son catches fish and to see the beautiful East End.
    The rest of the time take a couple of hours out of my day with the tide to fish a couple of local flats.
    All the Best Malcolm

  28. Nevin Knowles Reply

    Rod the legislation will not affect my business model but if anglers get digust and do not come then we all get affected. It still comes down to one thing money. The higher the licence fee the more the BFFIA gets and who controls that. Also if a guy can afford $5000 a week double occupancy or$ 11000 single you think he will care about a $100 or $200 fishing license. This only target us the diy and hope we get fed up. The only thing coming out of this will be a license and will at a reasonable cost . Prescot them is just trying to prolong this . We bahamians cannot be that fool to allow a few to destroy a valuable industry.

  29. TZMIV Reply

    Just sent a letter to all the individuals listed by BFG with my own personal thoughts as well as a link to this comments section. I suggest everyone does the same.


  30. TZMIV Reply

    PS- It took me 5 whole minutes…not too demanding on your time.

  31. Kevin Becker Reply

    Here is the Bonefish Tarpon Trust Letter………

  32. C-Mackay Reply

    So I’m going diy flats fishing in a week on Long Island. Do I need a license?

  33. Tish Reply

    Great insghit! That’s the answer we’ve been looking for.

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