Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Partnership drives certification of Andros fly fishing guides

A sustainable economic empowerment model for fly fishing training and certification is on the horizon. The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) has been contracted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to implement the project. Standing left to right: BTVI Administrative Assistant, Genta Brown; BTVI Associate Vice President of Academic Studies, Leroy Sumner; BTVI Head of Business department, Kerima Smith; BTVI Dean of Academic Affairs, Pleshette McPhee; BTVI Academic Support Officer, Cara Gibson and BTVI Business instructor, Mario Gay. Seated left to right: External Consultant for the project’s market analysis, Dr. Anthony Fedler; BTVI President, Dr. Robert W. Robertson and External Consultant for Train the Trainer Sustainability & Curriculum Development, James McGregor. Photo by Shantique Longley

The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) has been contracted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to implement a sustainable economic empowerment model for fly fishing training and certification.

In partial fulfilment of this mandate, BTVI is delivering a series of workshops through a new curriculum focusing on the sustainability and technical requirements of environmentally responsible fly fishing guiding. New legislation governing fly fishing guiding, known as the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) (Flats Fishing) Regulations 2017, now requires all Bahamian guides to be certified.

The Andros Sustainable Guide Training and Certification program was launched on July 24th, with a series of fact finding and consultation meetings with guides, lodge operators and the wider community in North Andros, Central Andros, Mangrove Cay and South Andros.

BTVI’s team is working closely with representatives from the Andros Town office of the Ministry of Tourism on the sustainable business model.

Following the train the trainer workshops, the fly fishing guides from Andros will return to their respective communities as BTVI instructors, offering training workshops for new guides and those in the field, seeking a higher level of guide certification.

Presently, the pilot project is specific to Andros and is designed to do several things, including but not limited to: review and revise the 2010 market analysis to determine the level of economic impact the sport is having in The Bahamas; standardize the fly fishing guides’ training program curriculum, and create a professional and internationally recognized fly fishing guide training and certification program.

A substantial component of the program is designed to train guides and lodge operators to provide the most environmentally responsible tourism experience in an already competitive industry. This includes the elimination of toxic chemicals and cleaners, and improving waste management, particularly plastics and other trash that can affect fish populations.

Program Manager and BTVI’s Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Leroy Sumner, noted that the initiative represents a serious effort to ensure fly fishing guiding will remain a significant contributor to the Andros economy.

“Training the fly fishing guides is only a part of our project. My colleagues and I are also looking at other economic development opportunities both within the fly-fishing business as well as any associated commercial possibilities that could strengthen the Andros economy. Hopefully this economic model can be used on other islands across The Bahamas, as well as the Caribbean,” said Mr. Sumner.

BTVI’s president, Dr. Robert W. Robertson noted that the fly fishing initiative advances the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME), of which BTVI is a signatory. The mission of PRME is in part to transform management education, research and thought leadership globally, developing learning communities.

Additionally, the pilot program is expected to determine the certification standards to be achieved and the level of the designation; also, to locate the training and certification program within the management structure of BTVI  on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and the Bahamas Fly Fish Industry Association (BFFIA).

Subsequently, workshop facilitator, James MacGregor, emphasized that the training program places major emphasis on understanding those standards, which includes environmental responsibility.

“While it is critical to train new guides as technically competent in fly fishing, it is also crucial to protect the precious sport fishing resources of Andros, if we wish to sustain an industry that can continue to provide jobs and revenue for future generations,” said Mr. MacGregor.

“The level of marine pollution, overfishing, poor fishing practices and more recently global warming, should not be allowed to devastate fly-fishing activities, as they have in other destinations,” he stated.

One fly fishing guide from Mangrove Cay, supported concerns for the environment.

“Bahamian fly fishing guides are the best in the world, and now with this training, we can also show customers that we are the most environmentally responsible. This makes us more competitive, while protecting the fish stock for future generations,” he stated.

It is the intention that the pilot program be replicated wherever the sport is practiced throughout The Bahamas. In an effort to continually improve upon delivery, the training and certification process will be monitored and evaluated to respond to different island conditions and market demands.

It is expected that advancing a sustainable business model in the fly fishing industry will also result in achieving higher levels of visitor satisfaction.

Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing