A foreign-owned boat may not have conch aboard at any time, whereas a Bahamian-owned boat, including rental boats, may have conch aboard. The possession of turtle by non-Bahamians is prohibited. Grouper and rockfish weighing less than three pounds may not be taken. The bag limits may be legally taken to Florida when the vessel leaves the Bahamas. Foreign and Bahamian nationals may export the following quantities from the Bahamas without permission from the Minister: • A total of not more than six kingfish, dolphin, tuna and wahoo; or • More than six crawfish if aboard a boat; or 10 pounds if being carried on an aircraft. • More than 20 pounds of demersal fish (bottomfeeding reef fish, grouper, snapper, etc). Any fish within the bag limit can be given away to friends, but visitors who sell or exchange their fish for accommodations or dockage are subject to prosecution. Crawfish Rules Legal size for crawfish caught by anyone is a minimum tail length of five-and-one-half inches (5?”) or a three-and-aquarter inch (3?”) carapace (shell) length. Egg-bearing females must not be disturbed. The eggs are visible as a red mass (berries) under the tail. The closed season on crawfish is from April 1 to August 1 and applies to everyone. A closed season, December through February, exists for Nassau grouper. Specific opening and closing dates are often changed annually as more information is learned on the grouper’s reproductive cycle. Any crawfish in freezers of Bahamians, second-home owners or visitors on April 1, the first day of the closed season, should be documented with a letter to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. You may or may not be inspected by a Fisheries officer to verify the quantity. The bag limit applies to freezers ashore as well as boats.
Current rules now prohibit conch aboard a foreignowned boat, either caught or purchased. Foreigners on a Bahamian-owned rental boat may catch conch but must observe the bag limits. Walking out on the flats and catching a conch is allowed. Only adult conch may be taken. This applies to Bahamians and visitors. The adult conch is identified by a wide and well-flared lip on the shell. Juvenile conch have a thin lip, which has not yet flared. Help keep conch plentiful in the Bahamas by leaving the juveniles. Conch may not be exported or taken to Florida by anyone unless documented with a CITES permit, which is issued by Nassau. This is due to conch being an endangered species internationally, and transport across international borders is governed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES. Individuals exporting conch with a CITES permit are limited to 10 pounds. Commercial exporters are allowed larger quantities. One other rule requires that fish resources imported, as on a boat arriving in the Bahamas, must be declared to Fisheries officials or to customs officers. This is to avoid any misunderstanding as to whose fish are on board. If you have undeclared fish on your cruising boat when you enter the Bahamas, they are presumed to be Bahamian and must be within the bag limits. The Abaconian compiled this information in March 2007, in conjunction with local and Nassau Marine Resource staff. The Department of Fisheries is now named Department of Marine Resources and encompasses a broader role than previously.
Fished Purchased by Foreigners There are no limits to the amount of fish that can be legally purchased by visitors. However, amounts above the bag limits should be documented with receipts and invoices to clarify the origin of the fish. Bahamians must observe the minimum sizes and closed seasons but are allowed 250 pounds of fish. Quantities above that are considered commercial and appropriate licenses are required.