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Fishing In The Bahamas: A Helpful Guide

  • February 27, 2018
  • By YachtsmansGuide
Fishing In The Bahamas: A Helpful Guide

Bahamian fishing laws are subject to change. For current information at the time of your visit, check with Bahamian customs officials at your port of entry or email [email protected]

Foreign vessels may not engage in any commercial fishing transaction in Bahamian waters. Also, be aware that the following regulations apply not only to serious sports fishermen manning boats equipped with tuna towers but also to anyone cruising The Bahamas who as much as drops a line over the side.

We list only a summary of rules most relevant to the average fisherman, as of our press deadline. Current rules and regulations are summarized on the back of the required fishing permit, and a complete list of current sportfishing regulations is available from the Director of Fisheries, Department of Fisheries, Email: [email protected] or The Bahamas News Bureau.

A permit is required for visiting vessels to engage in sportfishing, $150 for vessels under 35 feet and $300 for over 35 feet on which not more than six reels will be used. Vessels on which more than six reels will be used require a permit costing $10,000 annually. Permits are available at the port of entry. The use of a speargun or any gear that functions using a triggering mechanism, fish trap, or net other than a landing net is prohibited. unless authorized by and endorsed on the permit issued.

Sportfishing tournament directors must have written approval from the Department of Fisheries to organize or hold a sportfishing tournament in The Bahamas and ‘prohibit the sale of fish’.

Bag limits
The bag limit for kingfish, dolphin, tuna, and wahoo is 18 fish per vessel, comprising any combination of these species. Any other migratory fish caught, unless they are to be used immediately, must be returned to the sea alive and not unnecessarily injured. Bag limits for other shellfish are 60 pounds or 20 fish, 6 conches, and 10 crawfish per vessel at any time (within a season). The above amounts may also be exported by the vessel upon leaving The Bahamas. No vessel shall have on board any fish unless the head and tail are intact.

The capture, possession, or molesting of coral, turtles, or marine mammals is prohibited as is taking or exporting of marine tropical fish and live rock. Spearfishing. When using spearfishing apparatus, a Hawaiian sling or pole-spear are the only devices permitted to discharge a missile underwater.

Spearfishing is prohibited within one mile off the coast of New Providence, one mile off the southern coast of Freeport, Grand Bahama, and 200 yards off the coast of all Out Islands.

The use of SCUBA or air compressors to aide in the harvest of fishery resources is prohibited.

The taking of conchs with shells that do not have a well-formed flaring lip is prohibited. The taking of queen conch is prohibited.

Crawfish season opens August 1 and closes March 31. The minimum harvestable size limit is 31°4 inches carapace length or 51°2 inches tail length, a limit of 6 per vessel. The possession of “berried” (egg-bearing) females is prohibited.

The capture of bonefish by the net is prohibited, as is the purchase or selling of bonefish. Catching of grouper or rockfish weighing less than 3 pounds is also prohibited.

Additional regulations pertaining to Sea Parks. The taking by any means of any marine life, whether living, dead or fossilized, is prohibited in all Sea Parks, designated by The Bahamas National Trust

Fishing Regulations for The Bahamas

  • Each vessel shall use not more than six (6) rods or reels unless the operator is in possession of a permit authorizing the use of more rods or reels;
  • Vessels with a valid fishing permit are allowed 20 pounds of scale fish, 10 conches, and six crawfish (in season) per person, at any time.
  • All other migratory fish shall be returned to the sea alive unless it is to be used immediately.
  • No grouper or rockfish weighing less than three pounds may be taken.
  • No spearfishing within 200 yards of an island in the Bahamas.
  • It is illegal to use any type of underwater air supply for spearfishing or collecting of any marine life. This includes scuba gear as well as air compressors.
  • Spearfishing is restricted to free divers only and only with the use of a Hawaiian sling.
  • It is illegal to take coral, tropical fish or sea fans.
  • It is illegal for a non-Bahamian to use any type of fishing net, except a cast net.
  • It is illegal for a non-Bahamian to use fish traps or to sell marine products of any type.
  • Nothing may be taken from Bahamas National Underwater Parks.
  • A person shall fish by the traditional method of angling with a hook or lure attached to a line held in the hand or attached to a pole, rod or reel;
  • A person, unless otherwise authorized by the respective permit, shall not use a spear, a fish trap, or a net other than a landing net;
  • Any migratory fishery resource that is caught shall not in total consist of more than six (6) Kingfish, Dolphin, Tuna or Wahoo per vessel and any resource not intended to be used shall not be injured unnecessarily but be returned to the sea alive;
  • No vessel shall have on board any conch, turtle or more than twenty pounds of any demersal fishery resources (groupers, snappers, etc.) per vessel at any time and excluding not more than six crawfish per vessel.
  • No vessel shall have on board any fish unless its head and tail is intact.
  • The general public is advised that the Queen Conch (conch) is considered to be an endangered species throughout much of its range within the wider Caribbean area, including The Bahamas. The Government, in an effort to ensure the continued sustainability of local conch stocks, has decided to prohibit the harvesting of the species by foreign boaters.

For more information about fishing, yachting and more in the Bahamas, get the official Yachtsman’s Guide to the Bahamas 2018 Edition.

Yachtsman's Guide to the Bahamas 2018 Edition

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By YachtsmansGuide, February 27, 2018
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