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Rod Hamilton

September 14, 2017

Open Letter on the Bahamas Regulations

Thought I would take the opportunity to post a copy of an Open Letter penned by Prescott Smith in regards to the announcement made last week in Orlando by the Bahamian government.

There is no need for me to comment. The letter speaks for itself.

“Dear Prime Minister, Minister Gray and other Cabinet Ministers,

The only thing I have left to give this country is MY LIFE. As I sit here in Colorado, returning home sometime this evening, I have been bombarded from Fly Fishing Guides all around The Bahamas who are screaming about a press Conference held in Orlando at the world’s largest Sportfishing show. THIRTEEN YEARS AGO, I came to The Cabinet of the same PLP Government to get basic legislation done to protect the LARGEST FLATS ON EARTH in the interest of BAHAMIANS and to legitimize the Guiding profession.

Minister Gray, it is a total insult for your PS to be doing a press Conference side by side with The Out Island Promotion Board. The same Minister of Tourism, who has shown ZERO Support 13 years ago for Legislation in the interest of Bahamians, is the same Minister of Tourism who has fought us today every step of the way.

As President of The Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association, I will not be a part of any such Legislation that SELLS out Bahamian interest and GIVES control of our resources to foreign interest and special interest. ALL present promotion Boards of Tourism have fought us every step of the way trying to block this Legislation. They are totally Controlled by special interest and foreign interest who see Bahamians as playing a token role in our number ONE INDUSTRY. BFFIA is the first and only Association in the Country where the Board is controlled and made up of Bahamians who look like the majority of the citizens of The Bahamas. Ironically, it is the only such association that gets zero SUPPORT from our PLP Minister of Tourism and our Ministry of Tourism in general, which claims to put Bahamians first.

Further, this is not a threat, although you may see it as one. In light of these developments, I am prepared to Resign publicly and let The Bahamian people know that after 23 years and going through 7 Ministers of Tourism, we are still struggling in OUR COUNTRY to get through the many GLASS CEILINGS that exist for OUR PEOPLE with respect to real economic empowering opportunities. We pander too much to the special and foreign interests, as if we are like little children who are afraid to cut our own path in life.

My Return home today will be met by hundreds of Guides from Inagua to Grand Bahama who are questioning whether the Government, which was the same with successive Administrations, truly has their best interests at heart.

As you can see, I have attached a fishing license from Colorado, which cost me 14 dollars for a one day license and raises a serious question. Why is our Government telling the world that we will charge 20 dollars a week to fish the best flats in the world? Again the special interests, who totally control our Ministry of Tourism, is advising The Bahamas Government, because we lack the much needed confidence in our own.

[Bjorn – a comment – I see a CO week license at $21, according to their website. A day is $9. So, even the stuff it would be easy to get right, he gets wrong.]

Minister Wilchombe, I have been in Andros now for 23 years, which as you know is the largest island in The Bahamas. It follows, therefore, that I have NEVER seen The Ministry of Tourism hold a single meeting collectively with regards to addressing Tourism on Andros. Even though we have the most Guides in The Country, we have one Family that came from Canada dictating to your Ministry what should happen in Tourism on Andros. They have now been joined by a token black Member of that Board who is prepared to sell her Country and her Soul to the special and foreign interests for pecuniary and non-pecuniary benefits no doubt. Is it any wonder that we are no longer number one in the Caribbean the way we run Tourism in our Country? You have not even shown the common courtesy of acknowledging a single communication from The Board of The Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association, while publicly claiming to put Bahamians FIRST.

Also Cabinet Ministers, you need to know that such persons, like Perk Perkins from Orvis, Ian Davis from Yellowdog Fly fishing, Oliver White the front for Abaco Lodge and Bairs Lodge, are some of the many special interests behind the scenes advising our Ministry of Tourism. Jim Klug, who is part owner of Yellowdog, is also on the Board of The American Fly Fishing Trade Association. It was, therefore, no surprise that they all sat in the room in Orlando yesterday.

Finally Mr. Prime Minister, you had the courage to put this vital piece of Legislation on the agenda to move it forward and, Minister Gray, you have had the courage to lead this important Legislation when our Minister of Tourism fought us every step of the way. So that you are aware, I got instructions from The Father of our nation, as he sat in a van in Staniard Creek and shared with me his vision for Bahamians and The Bahamas. All his books I have read and are in my possession! While he began the journey that led initially to our political independence, he acknowledged that the next step in our journey was and remains economic independence. “

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