• SPECIAL WIND ADVISORY WARNING

    THE BAHAMAS DEPARTMENT OF METEOROLOGY HAS ISSUED A SPECIAL WIND WARNING FOR THE ENTIRE BAHAMAS FROM 8:00 AM EDT MONDAY 23RD JANUARY 2017 UNTIL 1:00 AM TUESDAY 24TH JANUARY 2017.

    GALE FORCE WINDS WILL AFFECT THE NORTHWEST BAHAMAS, WHICH INCLUDES THE ISLANDS OF GRAND BAHAMA, ABACO, BIMINI, BERRY ISLANDS, ANDROS, NEW PROVIDENCE, ELEUTHERA AND THEIR ADJACENT WATERS THIS MORNING THROUGH EARLY TUESDAY MORNING.

    GALE FORCE WINDS WILL GRADUALLY MOVE OVER THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST BAHAMAS ISLANDS THIS MORNING AS A STRONG SQUALL LINE, COLD FRONT AND POST FRONTAL TROUGH MOVE OVER THE AREA TODAY.

    BOATERS IN THE WARNING AREAS SHOULD SEEK SAFE HARBOUR AND REMAIN IN PORT.

    ISSUED BY DUTY FORECASTER: GEOFFREY GREENE

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  • OFFICIALS OF CHILDREN’S HOSTEL APPLAUD BUS DONATION;CALL FOR ADDITIONAL PARTNERSHIPS/INDIVIDUAL, GROUP VOLUNTEERISM

    Members of the Board of Directors of The Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel have applauded a local philanthropist for the donation of a 2017 twelve-seat bus to the Hostel on Tuesday, saying that the donation speaks to the importance and effectiveness of public/private partnerships to their work.The donor has wished to remain anonymous. Mr. Samuel Clarke, Board Member, said the donation of the bus could not have come at a more opportune time for the Hostel and its children. Mr. Clarke called on other public/private organizations/corporations to partner with the Hostel. “This is fantastic,” Mr. Clarke said. “Our children were in need of this service. It’s a means of transportation to and from school and all of the other community activities in which we involve our children in order to provide them with as much normalcy as we possibly can while they are with us. We are just so blessed to have this donation at this time. I cannot say thanks enough. It is enormous. I am so elated. God has blessed us so enormously in what is the beginning of the year.”

    Mrs. Marita Ferguson, Hostel Administrator, echoed Mr. Clarke’s sentiments, saying that the donation was “indeed a gift from God.”“I was at a loss for words when I got the call that someone had donated the bus because the one we had been using previously to transport the children to school and their activities and to run errands was in the shop as a result of the usual wear and tear on a vehicle that comes with accomplishing those tasks.” The Home, which currently caters to 28 children (the number can fluctuate), provides a number of services to children ranging in ages from infancy to 12 years. “Everything that is done in a well-grounded, family-oriented, home-setting is duplicated here,” Mrs. Ferguson said. “We provide a home atmosphere to children from all backgrounds -- some of whom may need structure upon arrival, but once we provide that structure, some love, care and guidance for them, they tend to respond positively.”

    Mrs. Ferguson said the Hostel “would welcome year-round volunteers to assist with the children” – particularly male volunteers to help work with the young boys.“The children are always happy to see persons come in and assist. We are thankful and grateful to those who visit at Christmas time, but we are looking for additional year-round volunteers. We do an awesome work here. Our children are very much involved in community activities, just like any other home, [as we] try to bring as much normalcy to their lives as we possibly can.” Mrs. Ferguson said donations do not always have to come in the form of monetary donations.

    “It’s not always monetarily, but we need service in kind -- particularly volunteer service. We need males to volunteer their time, become more involved with us and particularly our boys. Another example is that now that we have a new bus, perhaps another kind person or company can donate servicing and operating fees in terms of providing gasoline for the vehicle for the year because we want to maintain it so that it can serve our needs for a very long time.” Mrs. Zenovia Coakley-Mills, Assistant Director, Child Protection/Childcare Facilities, Department of Social Services applauded the donation. She said despite its yeoman's efforts through the Department of Social Services and the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development, “Government cannot do it all by itself.” “We are responsible for 8 homes – the Hostel being one of the larger homes because of its capacity. Our partners assist us with the care of the children and as the word home suggests, it provides the level of care that the children receive if they are in homes with fully functioning families. Our job is to help those families that are not functioning the way they ought to, get to a place where those children can return home.

    “The financial burden of this is humongous and so we are very grateful for this donation from this particular philanthropist who has helped on numerous projects and tasks and has assisted the children daily,” Mrs. Coakley-Mills added. The Hostel, like the seven other homes under the charge of the Department of Social Services, provides 24-hour/7-days-a-week care, coverage and attention to the children who reside there.

    Dr. Novia Carter, Co-Chairperson of the National Child Protection Council, which works closely with their counterparts at the Department of Social Services and the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development to ensure the safety and protection of Bahamian children everywhere, said maintaining children’s homes allows child protection officials the opportunity to meet their obligations to Bahamian children. “Our chief goal is to ensure that every child is happy, secured and protected in a safe environment and so this is one more step towards us ensuring that we create a safe, happy Bahamas for our children to live in,” Dr. Carter said.

    “The establishment of the children’s homes not only provides a safe haven for the children residing in those homes, but is also in keeping with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) and helps the Government to fulfill its mandate to ensure that every child in The Bahamas has the opportunity to grow up in a safe, happy environment.” The Convention on the Rights of the Child, in a nutshell, is a promise Member States of the United Nations (such as The Bahamas) have made to the children of those member state countries (in becoming Signatories to the Convention) that they we will be able to grow up in a safe, secure and happy environment to ensure their positive development.

    A child psychologist by profession, Dr. Carter said it is paramount that children are allowed to grow and develop in safe, secure and protected environments. “It’s paramount that we make sure that these children feel secure; that they feel happy; that they feel that they are going to be a part of a productive society,” Dr. Carter said. “As our culture continues to grow, it is going to be paramount that we make sure that we are going to put the provisions in place for the health development of our kids in a violence-free Bahamas.”

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  • KEMP ROAD RESIDENTS RECEIVE CARE BASKET ITEMS DURING URBAN RENEWAL COMMUNITY UPLIFTING SERVICE

    Some 600 care packages containing breadbasket items including grits, rice, flour, canned goods and bread were given to residents of the Kemp Road community as the Urban Renewal Commission 2.0 programme continued its Community Uplifting Services in that neighborhood on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The event was a part of the Commission’s efforts to uplift and encourage residents following the passage of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Songs and prayers of praise and adoration were given during the service.

    The Hon. Cynthia Pratt, Co-Chair of the Urban Renewal Commission, in her remarks, addressed the issue of crime and asked the residents to be their “brothers’ keepers”. She urged them to resolve their conflicts in a different way and to continue to have “hope”. Also participating in the service were the Hon. Algernon Allen, Co-Chair, Urban Renewal Commission, and the Hon. Richard Lightbourn, MP for Montagu. Music was provided by the Urban Renewal Praise Team.

    Community Uplifting Services are also planned for residents in the communities of Gambier and Adelaide.

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  • IHIMS TO PROMOTE GREATER HEALTHCARE EFFICIENCY/EFFECTIVENESS

    The implementation of an Integrated Health Information Management System (IHIMS) at the public healthcare level in The Bahamas, has the potential to “fundamentally change” the public healthcare system’s approach to service delivery and care. Public healthcare officials said patients across the Commonwealth of The Bahamas will “directly benefit” from the implementation. Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Perry Gomez, said implementation of the IHIMS Program will allow for -- among other critical matters -- health information (including patients’ records) to be exchanged securely and privately across the public healthcare system thereby allowing for greater efficiency and effectiveness; will enhance the purchase and delivery of life-saving medications; and can alert physicians to specific patients’ needs or problems in real time.

    “There is no question that when health information can be exchanged securely and privately so that a patient’s record is always available and always current, that our hospitals experience a greater measure of efficiency and productivity,” Dr. Gomez said. “Indeed, when patient information and medical records are instantly available to clinicians, our clients experience an enhanced quality of care. “When a Health Information System can enhance the procurement and delivery of life-saving medications; when it can automatically alert physicians to a specific patient’s needs or problems, then what we are talking about is quite simply a quantum leap forward in the reform and transformation of our healthcare system.”

    Dr. Gomez made his statement at the Official Launch of the IHIMS program on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Church Hall, Boyd Road. He said: “To fully understand the assignment/significance of this implementation, one must take into consideration the fact that our national public healthcare system consists of more than 100 public health clinics, three major public hospitals and their associated agencies; a complex multi-island pre-hospital care service and the support services necessary to operate such a diverse network of health facilities and services.” Dr. Gomez, said implementation of the program is part of a national initiative of “vital improvements” that have been undertaken or will be facilitated across the public healthcare system under the auspices of the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA).

    The Public Hospitals Authority, he said, has already made “tremendous progress” with respect to those capital projects “necessary” to improve the physical plants of the country’s public hospitals, and in its recruitment efforts to address longstanding shortfalls in key clinical professions. Progress has also been made to replace and enhance diagnostic imaging and medical laboratory equipment in addition to PHA officials “working hand in glove” with counterparts at the Department of Public Health to adopt a ‘Whole Health’ approach to national healthcare policies. “The Public Hospitals Authority has proven to be a vital lynchpin in the reform and advancement of our public health services and infrastructure,” Dr. Gomez said. “Modernization has been a key theme with respect to the Authority’s strategic development of the physical environment, services, management and resources at all of our public hospitals and allied agencies.

    “As we move forward with the integrated health information management program, we are once again taking a giant leap forward with respect to modernizing our public healthcare sector,” Dr. Gomez added. Dr. Gomez said reformation of the public healthcare system, its infrastructure and its services by the Public Hospitals Authority has paved the way for modernization and advancement of the public healthcare system. “I often reflect on the march of progress that I, and those of my generation, have witnesses in my three decades as a physician in this country. Progress is often taken for granted in so many spheres of life. However, when applied to healthcare, each advance we make represents a direct improvement in our capacity to deliver care.

    “Many of the most advanced technologies and treatments in the world are available to patients in our public hospitals, but for far too long, our basic medical records, patient information, billing and hospital registration systems have lagged. That lag has, at times, retarded the effective delivery of our services and bottlenecked access and resources. “This is why the adoption of an Integrated Health Information Management System reflects such significant enhancement for our public health system [as] every patient in every health facility across the nation will benefit directly,” Dr. Gomez said.

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  • ELECTRONIC TRADE PORTAL TO BE LAUNCHED BY MINISTRY OF FINANCIAL SERVICES

    The Ministry of Financial Services conducted an information session on The Bahamas’ Trade Information Service Desk and Electronic Portal at SuperClubs Breezes on January 18, 2017. The official launch of the trade portal is tentatively scheduled for early March 2017. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) sponsored the event.

    Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. Hope Strachan was in attendance. She told attendees that the portal was of great importance to the country and assured the audience -- which comprised mainly members of the business community – of the government’s commitment to diversifying the economy and expanding trade.

    The establishment of the Trade Portal is a part of the government’s ongoing efforts to diversify the economy by expanding trade with regional, hemispheric and international trading partners. Currently a Bahamian entrepreneur seeking to export his or her product to a foreign market will have to sift through an excessive amount of information to find reliable trade information on how to export that product. This, I am sure you would agree, makes doing business with The Bahamas unnecessarily difficult and expensive.”

    She said that grant funding has been provided by the European Union through the technical assistance component of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, and subsequent to an international bidding process, the International Trade Centre (a specialized joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations) was retained to provide the services to design and develop a Trade Portal in mid-2016.

    “The intention of this Trade Portal is to create a “one-stop-shop” to access important national, regional and international trade information such as export/import statistics, information on trade regulations – such as quality requirements and standards, certification requirements and rules of origin – as well as shipping information, company profiles and key information on trade agreements,” said Minister Strachan.

    The Portal will serve as an important business facilitation tool by reducing the cost and time required to access trade information, and in turn improve the ease of doing business in The Bahamas.

    Mr. Joost van der Kooij, the lead Technical Consultant of the Dutch company Globally Cool, is working along with the International Trade Centre in the development of the Trade Portal.

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  • WILDCATS NAMED AYTON TO THE 2017 MC'DONALDS ALL-AMERICAN TEAM

    The No. 1 player in the 2017 recruiting class and Arizona Wildcats signee BAHAMIAN DeAndre Ayton has been named to the 2017 McDonald’s All-American team, it was announced Sunday night. Ayton, a 7-footer from Hillcrest Academy in Phoenix, is known to be a big man with a tremendous physical presence and a smooth stroke from the perimeter.

    This year’s McDonald’s All American game is scheduled for March 29 in the United Center in Chicago. It will be televised on ESPN.

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  • PUBLIC SERVICE AND UB SIGN MOU FOR TRAINING AND ASSESSMENT

    A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of the Public Service and the University of The Bahamas (UB) for the continuous development and training of Public Servants. The historic agreement was signed on Thursday, January 12, 2017 in the auditorium of the Harry C. Moore Library at UB, and was viewed as an important step in a productive relationship between The Government & UB.

    Signatories to the agreement were the Hon. Shane Gibson, Minister of Labour, National Insurance and the Public Service; Dr. Rodney Smith, President, UB; Hyacinth Winder-Pratt, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Public Service; and Dr. Linda Davis, Provost, UB.

    Mr. Gibson, in his remarks, underscored the importance of the MOU for the assessment of some 70 First Assistant Secretaries. “The signing of this historic Memorandum of Understanding, therefore, signals the Government’s intent to provide for continuous, meaningful and relevant training and skills development for its employees. “We, in Government, recognize that the benefits to this partnership are incomparable,” he said.

    One of the main objectives of the MOU is to obtain useful research material on skills needed and processes that need to be reviewed and eliminated, amended or strengthened. Information in the courses will be benchmarked to introduce best practices for the country.

    The National Development Plan Report noted that development of The Bahamas would depend upon four key pillars namely Human Capital, Governance, the Natural and Built Environment and the Economy, Mr. Gibson recalled. In part, the Report also noted, “Human Capital is about people – who they are, how they are educated, how they work, how they get along, and how they are supported in times of need. People are the first pillar. A country’s human capital is the sum of its people’s education, skills and training, and their ability to use their knowledge in their work. Governance, the second pillar, focuses on how people and the country are managed. It is about the institutions that exist and how well they work.’’ He said that this quote encapsulates the purpose of signing the MOU with UB.

    And, a partnership between the University and the Government of The Bahamas for the training of civil servants is a personal goal of the Prime Minister. “This goal has arisen out of the acknowledgement that the myriad challenges facing our country today are new and complex. Today, we face challenged economies, diversity of views, sexuality, cultures and mixed generations in the workplace; faster ways of communication and greater opportunities for security breaches; threats to the natural environment and aging built environments and infrastructure; outdated legislature and processes; globalization, shifting population demographics; lack of customer satisfaction and an apathetic workforce….” Mr. Gibson said.

    He further noted that the signing of the MOU also signals the Government’s

    intent to provide for continuous, meaningful and relevant training and skills development for its employees.

    Further, the Government recognizes that the University has the capacity, in collaboration with the Public Service, to design, develop, implement and organize the courses at the appropriate levels. Additionally, the University should ensure high and consistent standards in the delivery of courses, Mr. Gibson said.

    He added: “It is imperative however, that particularly in its embryonic stage, skilled and experienced Public Officers are used to teach as the public officers who graduate from these programmes must have a working knowledge of the system, which is supported by theory.” On the other hand, he said that this partnership should also be beneficial to the University in causing its programmes to remain relevant to the country’s needs, where applicable.

    Mr. Gibson congratulated those who worked “tirelessly” to get the programme started, which, he observed, is weighted with possibilities. In congratulating the participants, he challenged them to give their best as their intelligence, dedication to excellence, integrity and skills will be required if the government is to find ways to reduce or eradicate threats to the sustained development of The Bahamas. He also challenged them to “use this time to gain knowledge, strengthen professional relationships, engage in networking and envision the possibilities. Among you are future Permanent Secretaries and the Secretary to the Cabinet.”

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  • MSC BREAKS GROUND ON CRUISE PORT WITH A CONSERVATION ASPECT

    Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie said that under its Heads of Agreement negotiated with the Bahamas Government, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will invest over $100 million to transform Ocean Cay into a ‘world-class cruise destination.’

    "In so doing, MSC will join a distinctive club of cruise liners that own exclusive private islands serving as dedicated cruise destinations," Prime Minister Christie said, January 16, 2017 during the Official Groundbreaking Ceremony for the MSC Cruise Port on the cay.

    The development will have facilities inclusive of a 20-room small hotel, Bahamian shopping village, amphitheatre, restaurants, sporting and entertainment venues, spa, mega-yacht marina & ferry operation and marine reserve in a private port of call, he noted.

    "The company will also provide facilities for a police station, Customs and Immigration terminals and complimentary ferry passage to appointed members of law enforcement," Prime Minister Christie added.

    "MSC has made a commitment to Bahamian entrepreneurial development through the offering of financing of construction and equipment in respect of restaurants, retail shops, water sports, entertainment and attractions to be operated by Bahamians."

    Minister Christie said that MSC will also seek to maximize employment for Bahamians in the construction and management of that high-end development; and Ocean Cay, once completed, will have a built environment and commercial activity to support the employment of hundreds of persons drawn from other Bahamian islands, including Bimini.

    He pointed out that Bimini was at that time enjoying full employment, as the majority of the hundreds of Bahamians employed there and originating from other islands have taken advantage of the opportunities presented in the construction and operation of Resorts World’s Bimini Bay Resort & Casino.

    "MSC has also committed to establishing a Seafarers Technical School in Freeport, and has been working with a Sub-Committee of the Cabinet to facilitate planning, infrastructure development, and screening of candidates, with the first 55 recruits to begin training next month in food and beverage, guest services, deck and engineer ratings and entertainment, for placement on MSC’s cruise ships," Prime Minister Christie said. An additional 55 recruits per quarter will undergo training for a total of at least 220 graduates by end of 2017, he added.

    Prime Minister Christie said that MSC is investing similarly in the education of Bahamian Maritime Trainers at its 1300 square-foot facility in Freeport and has furnished all of the collaterals for the Maritime Train-the-Trainer Programme.

    Prime Minister Christie said: "I have no doubt that the cumulative economic impacts of MSC’s increased sailings to Nassau and new itineraries to Ocean Cay -- a project that, I am advised, will draw 369,000 passengers annually -- will deliver significant, overall economic gains that will bode well for the future of cruise travel to The Bahamas, not only because of the brand reputation and clout of the developer but because we are now living in a time when interest in cruising is at an all-time high; when amenities and onboard experiences are unmatched and when both liner and port activities that promote adventure, educational pursuits and generational travel are driving growth both in our premier industry, tourism, and in the fastest growing sector of that industry: cruising."

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  • 50 YEARS OF MAJORITY RULE CELEBRATED IN CONCERTS, JUNKANOO RUSH OUT, FIREWORKS AT ARAWAK CAY

    Hundreds of Bahamians and tourists alike gathered at Arawak Cay on the Western Esplanade, January 10, 2017 to join in the national celebration of 50 years of Majority Rule, which initially took place on January 10, 1967.

    The crowds braved winter chill and steady ocean breeze to be entertained the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band, Prison POP Band, Royal Bahamas Police Force Band Veronica Bishop, Lady E, Stileet, Puzzle and Geno D.

    Junkanoo Rush Out by large and small Junkanoo groups spun to a high note with fireworks to end a day of celebration that began with a commemorative early morning march, prayer, speeches, and old time Gospel music.

    Majority Rule Day, a public holiday on January 10 of every year, commemorates the attainment of Majority Rule in The Bahamas, which leveled the field of opportunity for all Bahamians.

    Photos show the Junkanoo Rush Out. (BIS Photos/Raymond A. Bethel, Sr.)

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  • THE BAHAMAS REGULATES FLY FISHING INDUSTRY

    Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. V. Alfred Gray announced that on Monday, January 9, 2017 Fly Fishing Industry regulations will come into effect. Minister Gray made the announcement at a Press Conference at the Ministry’s offices on January 4, 2017 to introduce the Regulatory Framework for the Fly Fishing Industry of The Bahamas.

    Fly Fishing, he said, is worth more than half a billion dollars annually for The Bahamas, and for more than 20 years, stakeholders of the industry under several administrations have sought to have regulatory oversight established.

    Said Minister Gray: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Fly Fishing industry in The Bahamas is said to be worth more than half billion dollars. For more than 20 years, and under several administrations, the men and women involved in the Fly Fishing industry of The Bahamas have been seeking to have this very important industry regulated.

    He continued: “The Fly Fishing industry worldwide is said to be worth (in revenue terms) over $5 billion, and in The Bahamas it is said to be worth more than $5 million in revenue annually.”

    Detailing the process that has brought industry developments to this point, he said: "About six or seven years ago, the majority of the guides in The Bahamas, formed themselves into a registered body called the 'Bahamas Fly Fish Association'. Two years ago, the Government of The Bahamas, led by my Ministry, agreed to the regulation of the Fly Fishing Industry in The Bahamas. As a result, months of consultations and negotiations began with all stakeholders throughout The Bahamas."

    He said, “The Flats Fishing sector is an important part of the Bahamas’ tourism product and is responsible for the employment of hundreds of Bahamians throughout The Bahamas. This is particularly true for the islands of Andros, Abaco, Acklins, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Bimini, Long Island and Mayaguana. Because this sector was not governed by any form of regulations, those involved in the industry acted as they desired, without any rules or regulations and without any safeguard for conservation and sustainability of the industry. This position we believe could not be continued.”

    Minister Gray pointed out that The Bahamas was the only country in the Caribbean, the Americas, and other competing jurisdictions, with no law governing Fly Fishing.

    Consultative meetings, he said, were attended by all stakeholders including the Ministry of Tourism, fishing guides, marina and hotel operators, fishing lodge operators, Bahamas National Trust, other conservation groups, and non-governmental organizations – all under the guidance of the Attorney General’s Office, with input from the Department of Marine Resources.

    Interested persons and private sector stakeholders who were unable to attend the meetings gave input by email and fax, and where necessary those views were factored into the final regulation.

    Regulations require that all persons using the Flats, such as guides, anglers, and do-it-yourselfers (DIY’s) have a license issued by the Department of Marine Resources in New Providence, or by the Family Island Administrators in the Family Islands. Soon licenses will be issued online, for a small license fee – Daily Fee $5.00; Weekly Fee $20; and Yearly Fee $60.

    All guides are expected to be certified over time by the Ministry of Tourism and the Department of Marine Resources, in conjunction with approved Fly Fishing associations in The Bahamas.

    Minister Gray pointed out aspects of the regulations to be noted:

    1. Bahamian certified fishing guides will be employed if two or more anglers are fishing on the Flats by means of a vessel (skiffs, etc.);

    2. Only Bahamian registered vessels will be allowed on the Flats;

    3. Only Bahamians will be allowed to act as guides;

    4. All anglers over the age of 12 years will need a license to fish;

    5. Do-It-Yourselfers or DIY’s will need no fishing guide;

    6. A conservation fund will be established for the conservation and management of the Flats and its Fishery Resources;

    7. No commercial fishing will be allowed on the Flats;

    8. The Fishery covered by this regulation includes the Bone Fish, the Tarpon, the Cobia and the Permit.

    The fines and penalties as set out in the regulations will be strictly enforced.

    Minister Gray stated the regulations would come into effect on Monday, January 9, 2017. He encouraged everyone to observe the regulations and so strengthen the future growth of the Fly Fishing Industry.

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