Prescott Smith is a name many anglers who have fished or researched the Bahamas are familiar with. He’s a veteran bonefish guide and the current sitting president of the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association (BFFIA). After a recent trip to Cuba and discovering how they regulate their saltwater fisheries, Smith is now calling for a similar “National Plan” for the Bahamas.

“They are developing a national plan, right down to the community level, but here it’s always a fight,” he told Tribune Business. “It’s so important, but the special interests who control our economy never want this country to be developed to where it involves empowering ordinary Bahamians.”

“If you’re talking about developing a national plan, for instance, the way Cuba is, then you’re talking about doing it from the grassroots level of local ownership. That’s how critical it is. We have never as a country sat down to develop such a plan because it goes against the very way our economy is controlled, and that is by a small few.”

With regards to the current regulations, Mr. Smith believes strengthened regulations are the key to developing a sustainable Bahamian fishing industry. Current legislation dictates that there needs to be one Bahamian fishing guide for every 2 foreign anglers fishing from a boat. It also included provisions for a licensing system that foreign anglers would be required to obtain a flats fishing license, however, no online portal system has been put into place.

The BFFIA is currently developing a training program for Bahamians wanting to learn to guide clients onto any of the many flats species.

“We are talking about Bahamians becoming owners of the tourism sector. We are talking about training people to develop actual skills, not just in being a guide but other forms of eco-tourism.”

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