AFFTA Responds to Proposed Bahamas Fishing Regulations

 

 

AFFTA_Logo_Blue_Black

June 23, 2015

Michael T Braynen
Director Department of Marine Resources
P.O. Box N 3028
Nassau, Bahamas

The destination angler traveling to the Bahamas has for many decades played a vital role in the health of the Bahamian economy. These tens of thousands of Bahamas-bound anglers also play a crucial role in the U.S.-based fly-fishing industry as a whole. For these reasons, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) opposes the Fisheries Resources Regulations of 2015 in its present draft form. We would further encourage Bahamian legislators to carefully consider the negative impacts that such heavy-handed and unnecessary regulation will have on destination angling and fly fishing throughout the Bahamas.

We strongly encourage the Bahamian government to reject the draft of these regulations in their present form and seriously evaluate whether these proposed regulations are truly good for the Bahamas as a whole.

Recent data (from The Economic Impact of Flats Fishing in The Bahamas; Tony Fedler, Ph.D) shows that anglers traveling to the Bahamas in 2010 spent over $141 million to fish the Bahamas, bringing to the developed islands of the Bahamas (and perhaps more importantly the out-islands) thousands of jobs and economic benefit. And the best news of all: These anglers were spending money on a low-impact, totally renewable pastime on the islands and in the communities that need it the most. Fast-forward to 2016 with the U.S.’s improved economy and an end to its recession, there is little doubt that this number of $141 million will in all likelihood significantly increase.

The ill-conceived and downright puzzling attempts by a small number of self-serving individuals in the Bahamian fly fishing industry to fast-track the proposed Fisheries Resources Regulations has already put the destination fishing industry of the Bahamas at great risk. The industry outcry, social media reaction and backlash in the last two days alone have already tarnished the image of the Bahamas as a paradise for traveling anglers. If key elements of this proposed legislation become reality, there is a chance that the lucrative and valuable destination angling industry servicing the Bahamas will suffer catastrophic damage that will negatively affect the Bahamian economy.

Creating an environment where foreign anglers, non-Bahamian lodge and property owners, and even casual tourists looking to fish are essentially locked off the water and off the flats makes no sense at all. While a handful of local guides and lodge owners might see this as a short-term win and a way to artificially strengthen their own small businesses, the Bahamas as a whole will lose in a big way. Heavy-handed and unnecessary regulations will send a message to destination anglers throughout the world that they are not welcome in the Bahamas unless they are willing to pay to fish with a small number of “select” guides or lodges. This at a time when Belize, the Yucatan, Cuba and numerous other international destinations are welcoming and marketing to foreign anglers and investors like never before. The proposed regulations will successfully and immediately drive destination anglers and the dollars and jobs that they bring to destinations other than the Bahamas. The Bahamian government should be doing whatever it takes to increase sustainable anglers’ access to the flats instead of limiting access.

Our industry members are deeply concerned with the proposed Fisheries Resource Regulations and the impacts these new laws would have on their businesses and the fly-fishing industry as a whole.

As one lodge owner from Abaco recently stated, the timing and the tone of the proposed regulations are awful and will further erode the competitive position of the Bahamas as a fishing destination at a time when visitors are already reeling from the recent imposition of Value added tax.

Other industry members and fly-fishing businesses have also weighed on the issue this past week.

“As a fly shop owner that currently hosts annual trips to the Bahamas, I am very concerned by the proposed regulations,” said AFFTA member Colby Trow, who owns Mossy Creek Fly Fishing in Virginia. “Over the past 12 years of hosting fishing trips in the Bahamas, our retail shop has brought over $75,000 annually to the Bahamian economy. The proposed changes would unconstructively impact our customers who presently travel to the Bahamas and will certainly create a situation where we would look to other flats destinations throughout the Caribbean.”

President of Simms Fishing Products K.C. Walsh further added, “there is no doubt that such short-sighted legislation will negatively impact the economy of the Bahamas and reduce access for visiting anglers. If the draft proposal passes, anglers that currently travel to the Bahamas will surely find other flats fishing destinations.”

Ian Davis, co-owner and saltwater program director for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures commented “it is unfortunate that a small number of self-serving, outspoken guides and lodge owners have gathered momentum to the point that these regulations are actually being considered and discussed. The potential harm to the Bahamian sportfishing industry is immeasurable.”

The one piece of the proposed regulations that AFFTA and the fly fishing industry would support would be a daily and weekly marine fishing license for all recreational anglers fishing in the Bahamas. If a license were easily attainable on-line, provided indiscriminate access to the flats and the shallow waters of the Bahamas, and if the funds generated were designated for conservation and protection of Bahamian resources, then a sportfishing license could be a great thing for the Bahamas and its economy. The key with a successful and well-executed license program will use generated funds to enhance and protect the flats’ ecosystems and habitats, drawing more anglers into the Bahamian tourism economy.

In closing, it is important that input on this issue should be solicited from all involved and concerned parties, including independent Bahamian guides, lodges (both foreign-owned and locally owned), anglers, second home-owners, scientists, conservation groups and the fly fishing industry as a whole.  Rushing forward on legislation that will ultimately cost the Bahamas hundreds of millions of dollars in angling-related revenue and countless jobs throughout the country would be a tragic mistake.

Sincerely,

Ben Bulis President – American Fly Fishing Trade Association

Tucker Ladd Chairman – American Fly Fishing Trade Association

Jim Klug Chairman Emeritus – American Fly Fishing Trade Association

Chairman – AFFTA Fisheries Fund

 

Montana Senator Steve Daines Secures Additional Funding for LWCF

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today secured close to $14 million in additional funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program of critical importance to increasing access to Montana public lands and protecting Montana’s outdoors heritage.

During today’s mark up of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2016, Daines and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) successfully passed an amendment to increase LWCF programs by nearly $14 million, bringing the overall total funding for LWCF to the FY2015 enacted level of $306 million.

LWCF is an important program for Montana that helps expand access to our public lands,” Daines stated. “I’m pleased to see my colleagues join me in supporting this critical program and ensuring the program has the funds it needs to protect Montanans access to our open spaces for generations to come.”

Daines’ amendment is fully offset and will be included in the final bill to be voted on by the full Senate.

Daines is a strong supporter of LWCF and has long called for strong funding for the program. Daines recently sent a letter to Interior Appropriations leaders urging for full and robust funding for LWCF. Daines’ letter is available here.

 

###

2015 AFFTA Board of Directors Election

AFFTA Board of Directors Nominations Now Open

Let Your Voice Be Heard! Board Positions Open to All AFFTA Members

Overview

The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) is pleased to announce that it is now accepting submissions for open Board of Director positions. AFFTA seeks to maintain a strong, balanced, strategic-thinking Board that accurately represents the varied businesses in the fly fishing industry. As a member-driven organization, AFFTA solicits candidates each year to fill open seats on the Board of Directors to represent the interests of the fly fishing industry and all AFFTA members. Submissions will be accepted through Friday July 24, 2015.

Do you want to be a leader in the fly fishing industry and help make decisions that will shape the future of fly fishing for years to come? Are you passionate about the fly fishing industry, conservation and the recruitment of new fly fishing participants? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we encourage you to submit your bio today and help lead our industry into the future!

Board Member Requirements

The requirements to serve as an AFFTA Board Member are as follows:

► Be an AFFTA member in good standing

► Participation in at least two sub-committees

► Attend three board meetings per year.

► Travel, lodging, phone and most food expenses associated with AFFTA events/meetings; expenses are not covered by AFFTA and are the responsibility of the Member

► Support AFFTA’s mission of promoting the sustained growth of the fly fishing industry

► Help develop and guide the association’s actions with respect to organizational priorities and strategic planning by staying informed about AFFTA matters, preparing in advance for meetings, reviewing and commenting on documents and reporting on issue of concern to the association in a professional and timely manner

► Three year board term

Bio Submission

To be considered for a Board position, your bio must be emailed to the AFFTA Corporate Office no later than July 24, 2015. The email address is info@affta.org.

YOUR ONE-PAGE BIO SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:

Complete contact information

Personal background information to support your bid for an AFFTA board position

A summary of why you are interested in serving the fly fishing trade

All Board Member nominees’ bios and a voting ballot will be emailed to the AFFTA membership by August 1, 2015. Voting must be completed on or before August 15, 2015. Votes will be tallied on August 17, 2015. The top vote recipients will be contacted that day to inform them that they have become the newest AFFTA Board Members. A broadcast email will be sent to all AFFTA members on August 20, 2015 to announce the newly elected directors.

New Board Members will take office at the Board of Directors meeting held at the October 12, 2015 Board Meeting in Bozeman, MT.

AFFTA Election Timetable

► June 12, 2015 – Nominations Process Begins

► July 24, 2015 Candidate Bios due

► August 1, 2015 – Candidate Bios and Ballots Emailed to Membership

► August 15, 2015 – Return Ballot Deadline

► August 17, 2015 – Votes Tallied and New AFFTA Board Members Notified

► August 20, 2015 – New Board Member Announcement Membership and Public

► October 12, 2015 – Newly Elected Board Members take office October 12, 2015

Board Diversity

The AFFTA Board of Directors consists of up to fifteen elected members. The desired make-up of the Board consists of no fewer than two Members representing each category of the industry; manufacturers, retailers, sales representatives, media, and travel/guides. To maintain this diversity, elections will first focus on the appointment of Members to support the two member category representation. If candidate resources do not support this effort, Board positions will then be filled with Members who receive the highest number of votes.

Based on the current board term expirations, there are currently six Board of Director seats to be filled with this election. To maintain the diversity of the board as outlined in the AFFTA bylaws, the association is searching out at least 2 Media/PR/Mrktg/Associations/Government/Educational, 1 Sales Representative, 2 Travel/Guides/Lodges/Outfitters and 1 Retailer.

If you have any questions about running for the AFFTA Board of Directors please feel free to contact any of the Nominating Committee Members listed below or the AFFTA office at 406-522-1556

Michael White- michael@blueribbonreps.com Chairperson

Jen Lavigne- Jen@waterworks-lamson.com

Jim Klug- jim@yellowdogflyfishing.com

Riley Cotter- rcotter@umpqua.com

Ben Bulis- ben@affta.org

 

 

AFFTA Testifies at Clean Water Act Hearing

AFFTA President Ben Bulis traveled to Washington, DC this week to speak out on behalf of our waterways and habitat, as well as our health and vitality as an industry.  The proposed new rulemaking for the Clean Water Act will protect many of our small streams, which are important spawning grounds for fish.  Our industry will not survive without healthy fisheries…and access to them.  AFFTA is proud to speak out on behalf of our industry.

For a complete of AFFTA’s testimony, click here.

FullSizeRender