Bahamas Regulations- Now What Was All The Fuss About!!!!

I’m currently attending iCAST in Orlando, Florida and took a break from the show floor at 2:00 today to attend the Press Conference held by the Bahamian Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources to discuss The Proposed Legislation For The Flats Fishing Industry.

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Rena Glinton, Permanent Secretary made the presentation where she announced what everyone in attendance hopes will be the final legislation to be introduced.

In a nut shell, most if not all of the previously annonunced draconian intiatives have been discarded with the new set of regulations to be more or less in line with what other countires encouraging visiting anglers  have adopted.

This would include an on-line licensing system with the weekly license fee estimated at $20 and the annual license around $60.

All self-guided fishing to carry on as before, no limitations.

Those with their own boat can still continue to fish without the services of a guide, providing no more then one person at a time is actually angling.

Guides will need to be certified, but that process will not be controlled by a single association.

A conservation fund will be established and funded by a portion of the angling license fees.

We can agree these are all sensible regulations and look a lot like what was conceptually contemplated two years ago.

So, lets put the past behind us and look forward to once again be welcomed to fish one of the most beautiful countries in the world.



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

    Well, this is very good news indeed. But, I have to wonder if there was ‘No Fuss made about the Previous Proposals”, what might have been the outcome? — I would like to thank everyone that took the time to write letters, fill out surveys and contact anyone in the Bahamas that had some input on this matter.
    I am looking forward to spending another winter on Grand Bahama Island, using their guides and fishing on my own. I will sleep good tonight.

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      I know what you mean Kevin. I’m looking forward to getting back and fishing some of my favorite spots.

      • François gilson

        Hi Rod and all, does anyone know where to purchase the fishing license online? I can’t retrieve this (yet to come?) web site. Thanks so much

      • Rod Hamilton

        The license requirements have not been put into place yet. I will let everyone know the process once it has been legislated and required.

  2. Frank D Reply

    Good news and very sensible proposed regulations. Rod, will run-ins with locals that I read about be fixed, or do you think that will be an on-going problem on some of the islands?

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Good question Frank, good question. The real answer is “I don’t know”. My hope is that this has now galvanized all sides of the discussion to understand that anglers have bought a license and are legally allowed to fish. In other words the law is now widely known (guides, police, etc) and the harassment will come to an end. Will that happen? Time will tell. What we should note is that a vast majority of independent guides have now come together to support the new set of regulations and understand the different modes of fishing that keep the Bahamian tourist economy churning. I would encourage everyone to keep writing me if they encounter a negative experience since I know have some fairly direct connections to combat that behavior.

  3. Lane Luck Reply

    “Im back Jerry, Im back”
    YAHOO………family islands here we come.

  4. Dave J Reply

    That’s great news. It probably was good that many of us wrote to the Bahamian government expressing our thoughts about what had been proposed, last year and this year. Onward!

  5. Glenn Ueda Reply

    Great news Rod! Thank you for taking the time to share the information.

  6. Tim Marshall Reply

    I saw the BTT live video, and am pleased to agree, Rod.
    Perhaps the wise counsel by yourself and others, plus the blizzard of other feedback, by AFFGA and so many more, have caused reason to apparently prevail.
    Good news today!

  7. Roy Nichols Reply

    Most of those regs seem fine except the one regarding angling out of your own boat with only one person being able to fish. Now what is that supposed to mean? If I rent a boat and go with a couple of friends only one person can fish? Or would that reg just apply to persons who own their own boat down there and you would not be able to take your wife out, or whomever, and one of you is not allowed to fish? You would think that if only one person is angling it would look like you are guiding as apposed to everyone on the boat fishing. We shall see how that transpires.

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      One person at a time…….not one person. In my experience the same as it has always been. One guy is on the bow, somebody is poling and then rotate.

  8. Russell Richards Reply

    As Roy Nichols highlights above the position on boat owners needs to be clarified. I live on GBI and have a boat and often take the wife and friends out for the day. Some fish, some like the wife never do, but I always have multiple rods on board. One assumes that will not be a problem.

    Then there are the regular occasions I meet an acquaintance who was travelled alone to a flat and I assume it would be an offence for me just to take him in my boat to the other end of it so we can fish it back together.

    It would be sad for the island if in future I cannot take my friends out as we neither need nor want a guide on board-it spoils the dynamics of the day. There is no guiding opportunity to be lost.

    It seems a bit draconian to ban two fishermen from ever fishing from a boat just to catch the very rare individual who is carrying out unlicensed guiding activities. Sledge hammer to crack a nut comes to mind.

    The devil will be in the detail of the legislation- we shall see.

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Trying to answer and be clear on the boat issue. If you fish you need a license. They are not prohibiting a person from fishing at all. In my experiences on flats boats, there is one person fishing and one person poling or sitting down and then a rotation. That is all fine. No limit on rods or any other kind of situation you can dream up. No different then what we have all done in the past. Any one can walk and wade, jump out of the boat and you are good to go.

  9. Capt. Dave Reply

    Count me in on the “one person per boat” issue. We (a couple) sail our boat from the US in alternate years to the Bahamas for the entire winter and fish from our dinghy or wade. We would not like it if only one of us can fish. Can we take turns? How about if we wade? If only one can fish, we’d need only one annual license, right? In the past when we have cleared our mother ship through customs our US$300 cruising permit included $10 towards fishing, but we had to request a fishing permit good for the entire crew for no extra charge. I wonder how this will change?

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Hi Capt Dave; these are all good questions and were in fact answered at the Press Conference. Obviously the regs are not final yet, but it looks like with some certainty that the yesterdays announcement is the path that will be taken. Here is the deal with the one fisherman and boat. Two, three, four people in the boat is no problem, one person fishing “at a time”. I.e a guy poling and a person fishing, the conventional set up is fine. Then you switch, the same we always do. In other words, no different then how we fish from a flats skiff now. Everybody can get out and wade an fish at the same time, no problem. The mother ship concept I don’t know about. I do know that if you fish you need a license. If you are not fishing you don’t need a license.

  10. Alan Kuhre Reply

    I personally had written off the Bahamas after my last trip in April. Having had the good fortune of flats fishing there over 25 times in the last 15 years, I wanted no part of being harassed by local guides or law enforcement to see if I had a fishing license in hand. The penalties for noncompliance were absurd!

    Good to see that the Bahamians have decided to make changes that have common sense and will encourage all anglers to enjoy their piece of paradise and support the local economies!

  11. Gary Reply

    What is the link to buy our license? So you buy it and can print something out that day and just carry it with us?

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Gary the details are yet to be worked out and the process does not yet exist. But essentially the licenses will be bought on line and in my opinion should be purchased prior to arriving for each trip. They say they will be available in-country but I would not count on that be implemented smoothly

  12. Douglas McLean Reply

    That is awesome news and a big relief to all saltwater fly fishers.

    Very reassuring to hear that the Bahamian government ultimately saw the light and adopted a much more sensible set of regulations.

    All that participated in the effort to get the Bahamian government to reassess the initial regulation proposals should be pleased with thebresult.

  13. Kingfisher Reply

    I’m happy to hear some good news about the proposed legislation but I reserve judgment until the actual legislation is passed into law. If I recall correctly, after a similar upbeat DIY friendly press release from the same person several months ago, there was another press release shortly thereafter from the proponents of DIY regulations and if anything, showed a complete disregard for compromise. Politics are hard to predict anywhere. I’m hopeful that our letter writing and grass roots efforts will pay off. Am I reading this right?
    Eric English

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Hey Eric. I hear what you are saying, but I think this is the real deal. I had the opportunity to talk with the Permanent Secretary in person yesterday and feel confident that this is a done deal. For us to be skeptical at this point is understandable but I’m comfortable they have it figured out this time. In essence a reasonably priced fishing license is all that has come out of this for the majority of anglers.

  14. BFG Reply

    Great news Rod!

    Unfortunately this news has come too late for those of us who have cancelled our 2016/17 Bahamas trips and booked other bonefishing destinations.

    Too late also for all the Bahamians who’s livelihoods have already been affected and will continue to suffer loss of income for some time thanks to the selfish plotting of a few greedy individuals.

    However, I hope to return next year by which time I would hope the new licence will be available on-line.

    I also hope that sensible conservation projects benefit from the licence fees and that the illegal netting issue is addressed (but I won’t be holding my breath on that one!).

    Thank you Rod for all your hard work!

  15. Kevin Becker Reply

    Here is an interesting read on what things could have been like.

  16. Anonymous Reply

    Thanks for the news Rod.
    We were going to cancel Bahamas trips and then the hurricane struck. The decider was that we would book only with friends of D.i.Y. to help them back on their feet.
    Think how much unpleasantness could have been avoided if sensible legislation by sensible people was proposed in the first place. Sure there will be some disgruntled ‘guides’ so I’ll keep an eye on my tyres for the time being.
    Thanks again to all the contributors and yourself who have kept up the pressure. Maybe even my letters went some way towards it.

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Hi Barry; I think the totality of the feedback had a lot to do with the outcome. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens going forward and the attitude of those who didn’t get what they wanted. There are plenty of great guides and lodges for us to support and I do think the idea of us buying a fishing license gives us all the feeling that we have the right to fish. In any event there will not be any ambiguity about the legality of DIY fishing. It should be noted that a lot of independent guides fought hard to achieve the current result and deserve our support.

  17. Tim Fortin Reply

    That’s great news.
    I have no problem paying $20 per week to fish on Abaco.
    I usually go once a year and spend about $3K all told with lodging, food, car rental, gifts, fuel, plane tickets, departure taxes, VAT’s etc.
    It took me a few times going down to figure out the fishing, but now that I am not wandering the flats aimlessly I really would have hated to start all over again somewhere else.

    Thanks Rod for the info.

  18. Toby Reply

    Here it is, Oct 11, and I can’t find any info on 2016 Regs for the Bahamas…Has the license become law? What are the final fees…

    I am planning on leaving the Chesapeake on Nov 5th on a boat headed south…Bahamian regs & fees will determine where my final destination will be…Bahama”s, FLA, Belize, Cayman’s, Turks & Caicos…

    Any answers?

  19. Shawn T Reply

    Just found an article on the new license system being implemented on Jan 9 2017.

    Not clear where the license is to be purchased.

  20. Shawn T Reply

    Facts from the article (in case it goes off line):

    The regulations will require anglers above the age of 12, 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 weekly license, $30 for a monthly license and $60 for an annual license.

    The regulations will also require a foreign vessel wishing to fish in the flats to obtain the usual sports fishing permit and each person on the vessel intending to flats fish to hold a personal license.

    The regulations also ban commercial fishing in the flats. Anglers are only allowed to catch and release when catching bonefish, permit, snook, cobia and tarpon.

    The new law will also establish a Conservation Fund for the management and protection of the flats and fisheries resources in The Bahamas.

    Sent an email to fisheries@bahamas requesting info on where to purchase. Will post back any reply I get here.

  21. Shawn T Reply

    So, I’m not creating unneeded posts, I’ve placed the Fisheries Ministry response in Rod’s Blog titled: “Open letter on the Bahamas Regulations”. I’ll post anything else there on the subject.

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      There is no hope of me clearing up confusion, so let me just tell you what I know. The Bahamian government as implemented Flats Fishing legislation to take effect next week. Within that legislation is a requirement for all flats anglers to have in their possession a fishing license. The penalties for not having one are in the legislation. The price of the license is reasonable and in line with other jurisdictions anglers visit. However, to the best of my knowledge there is no actual way to buy a license that makes any sense. I have the response from the Department of Marine Resources, but have no idea how there answer would work. (I will post below) I talked to guides, lodge owners, guide association members, nobody has an answer or can figure out how to actually buy a license. You fly into Nassau, grab a short flight to Long Island for a weeks fishing and now I want to buy my license. Where do you go? As of right now, it cannot be done.

      “Efforts are currently being made to enable one to obtain a licence on line. While this is taking place, a licence may be obtained from Bahamas Customs officials when entering the country or from the local Department of Marine Resources’ office and/or the Administrator’s office in Grand Bahama.

      Please let us know if you require additional information.

      Department of Marine Resources
      P. O. Box N-3028
      Nassau, Bahamas
      Tel 242-393-1777

  22. Jamie Reply

    I just spoke with the DMR and was told to ask a cab driver to take me to get a license! Pretty funny, she could not give me exact locations of where to buy a license in North Eleuthera or HI accept that “all the islands will have place”I find this hard to believe. What if the place is in Rock sound or Governors harbor and I arrive in NE? It would burn a whole day just to get a license. Hopefully the online system will be up and running soon. Would hate to spend a day hunting down a license in a cab or fish without one and risk the penalties.

  23. Kevin Reply

    Looks like you can fill out the application and take it into the specific island’s Administration office where they will collect the fee. Here is an email I received from Dept. of Marine Resources: I’m heading to Cat Island in April. FYI:


    Email from Fisheries Dept:
    From: []
    Sent: Thursday, February 09, 2017 11:54 AM
    To: Kevin
    Subject: Re: Regarding Non-Resident Flats Fishing License


    I refer to your e-mail on the captioned above subject matter.
    Please be advised the online payment system has not been finalized to date so payment of the license must be made directly at the Administrator’s Office at Cat Island.
    The fee is $15.00 per day or 20.00 per week.
    Mr. Gilford Lloyd
    Department of Marine Resources
    P. O. Box N-3028
    Nassau, Bahamas
    Tel 242-393-1777
    Fax 242-393-0238

  24. Mike Schad Reply

    I am writing this to you from Long Island, BAS, from my house that my wife and I and two partners built 15 years ago. It’s discouraging to read your editorials regarding the recent flats laws that went into affect and how you have misinterpreted them. For all the foreigners who have come to these islands and invested themselves with a primary interest in flats fishing, this recent law is very damaging, and, it’s not just hurting us, but it’s going to be devastating to the local entrepreneurs.

    The biggest flaw in your interpretation of the law has to do with the mandatory use of guides for people taking boats out with two or more people. You are saying that if only one person is fishing at a time, that that meets the requirement. Wrong. The law says that you can not take your own boat that we have purchased, paid stamp tax on, registered in the Bahamas, and licensed, out fishing with my wife, my friends who have flown down to join me, or a local Bahamian buddy, without hiring a guide. Has nothing to do with one person fishing at a time!!

    My wife and I came here a week ago and immediately went and bought our licenses and, as we have all said, no problem with having to buy licenses, we’re used to that, and, if they actually use some of the proceeds to help the environment, that would be good. We’ll see. While at the licensing agents office, I asked her about the new regs. She said that she alone was charged with selling the licenses and enforcing the laws. No disrespect, but Stephanie and her pretty nails, is not going out on the flats to police this thing. In fact, enforcement is where this whole thing will likely implode. One of the new rules states that all guides need to be licensed. There are few guides on Long Island that are currently licensed and I’m guessing that it’s a fairly rigorous process and that many guides will choose not to become licensed. The first time an unlicensed guide with clients is confronted by a licensed guide, and believe me, the Locals don’t spare their words, those clients are going to go home and say, ” they have a problem down there, and I’m not going back.”

    The thing that the few guides who have promoted this law don’t understand, is that we fly fishermen from the states and other parts of the world, who have landed here with second homes, are their biggest proponents . I have personally directed many friends, and friends of friends,to Long Island’s places to stay, eat, rent vehicles, and, most importantly, the really good guides, because, as we all know, it doesn’t make good sense to spend a lot of precious time and money to go on a fishing trip and not take full advantage of the experience. A real life example; A friend who owns a fly shop in Montana approached me ten years ago and asked about Long Island. I told him all the things that I would recommend to do and see and he lined himself up and has gone down each year since. He has developed a relationship with one of the guides I reccommended and has taken a group of four or eight every year since. i recently asked my friend how much money he thought his groups had spent, and he said probably around one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. My referral. The Same guide saw me on the flats in my friends boat and turned down my request for my wife and I to go fishing with him the following day.

    There are several more parts of this law that will adversely affect the locals and the Bahamian islands that aren’t recognized by most Americans who are simply going for a week of guided fishing, like the cost of a license for a 13 year old Bahamian boy who wants to go out on the flats to fish. Oh, and if he wants to go with his friend, they have to hire a guide. Now the cost is $500.00. The locals laugh when I tell them this, but that’s the law.

    Rod, read closer!

    Mike Schad

    • Rod Hamilton Reply

      Thanks for the well thought out message Mike. Well worth everyone reading and using the information Mike has put forward as part of their due diligence. The actual legislation is available here and in many other places to read and interpret. I believe Mike’s point is specifically related to the use of boats without a Bahamian guide. As for DIY itself, no problem, the battle was won and there are technically no changes to walking and wading. I receive around 25 – 40 emails per day from anglers in the Bahamas, so I feel fairly comfortable that my finger is on the pulse. Getting a license is a bit of a pain but starting to get simpler. I have heard of no negative or confrontational issues at all. And at this point I would say I have heard from anglers fishing all of the well known islands. As a positive, once you have a license you are good to go as a DIY angler.

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