You may enjoy fishing off a beach or dock without a license. However, if you are planning a more serious approach to sportfishing, either on your own boat or with one of the Abacos' legendary fishing guides, it would pay to read the following brief information since the fine for unlicensed (illegal) fishing in The Bahamas is a MINIMUM of $50,000 or ONE year in prison or both.
For additional information on FISHING IN THE ABACOS, and "What's Running When", please click here.
SPORTFISHING (non-Bahamian registered boats) - no more than 6 lines are allowed in the water at one time. Total allowable catch per person varies with the type of catch. The annual sportfishing permit is $150, or $20 per sportfishing trip. Vessel bag limits are 20 lbs. of scalefish, 10 conch and six crawfish (lobster) per person. No grouper weighing less than 3 (US) pounds may be taken.
NOTE: Due to extensive over-fishing and over-collecting of previously abundant marine food resources, the Bahamian government is evaluating a radical revision of its scale- and shell-fish restrictions and limits.
CRAWFISH-LOBSTER SEASON - lasts from August 1 - March 31, and the minimum size "tail" is 6 inches. The penalties for taking under-sized tails are severe AND ENFORCED.
CONCH RESTRICTIONS - any conch taken from Bahamian waters must be well formed with a prominent, flared lip. As a "rule of thumb", and to stay on the "safe side" of Bahamian law, conch should be a minimum of 7 to 8 inches (lengthwise). "Rollers", the immature conch found in many tidal waters, "flats" or shallow sea grass areas, should be left for another day.
SCUBA - for recreational divers, it's illegal all year 'round to catch, spear or otherwise capture fish or any other type of marine life using anything other than a snorkel.
PERMITS and LIMITS: If you're planning some serious fishing, ask your rental or hotel manager to help arrange for a permit or license. You may also obtain fishing and permit information from The Bahamas Department of Fisheries, East Bay Street, PO Box N-3028, Nassau, The Bahamas or call 242-393-1014. Permits are obtained from Customs officials at ports of entry. Fishing gear is restricted to hook and line and you may not fish with more than six rods at a time. Bag limits are as follows:
The more commonly found Bahamian sport fish include Allison, Blackfin & Bluefin tuna, amberjack, barracuda, blue & white marlin, bonefish, dolphin, grouper (just about all types), sailfish, kingfish, tarpon, wahoo, yellow & red snapper, flounder and shark (several varieties).
SPEARGUNS and HAWAIIAN SLINGS - spearguns are illegal in The Bahamas within 200 yards of an Out Island, and within one mile of Grand Bahama or New Providence. Hawaiian slings, however, may be used to catch fish, but are strictly prohibited for catching lobster, as are gigs ... and don't even think about using chemicals! the Hawaiian sling is the only approved spearfishing device. Use of scuba gear or an air compressor to harvest fish, conch, crawfish and other marine animals is prohibited. Spearing or taking marine animals by any means is prohibited within national sea parks.
Lobster or Crawfish:
Undersea PARKS and PRESERVES - Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park as well as Fowl Cay Preserve (please click here for interactive undersea park locator map) have been set aside as government protected national parks-preserves by the Bahamas Trust (the Bahamian administration authority for the country's national parks and protected preserves). You're not allowed to take anything living out of the waters in these areas ... no fishing, spearing, conching, lobstering, netting or any kind of shelling is permitted.