Those of you who get these blog posts might have noticed how silent I have been about Trump's recent changes in Cuba policy, and how they would effect anglers wanting to head to the island. The truth is, we were all in the dark. There were many questions left unanswered, and both myself and the nice folks at FlyWater Travel felt like we could not go ahead in planning new trips to Cuba, putting customer deposits and plans at risk.
We have continued to ask questions, and try and get clarity and details. In the past few days, we received the most detailed news of how we could proceed, and are really excited that we can again help U.S. anglers experience Cuba. Below is a synopsis written by Dylan at FlyWater, and published yesterday in their newsletter:
We are pleased to announce that travel to Cuba is 100% legal again.
The recent announcement by President Trump made it clear that the administration would roll back the legal provision for individual travel to Cuba that anglers had been traveling under for the past two years. However, they clearly stated they would continue to permit legal travel for all groups traveling under group “people to people” licensing.
Now, through a partnership with The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust anglers looking to fish Cuba can purchase a group “people to people” licenses on the BTT web site. www.btt.org
The cost of the license is $250.00 per angler.
The Trump Administration recently announced changes to US policy regarding Cuba, including travel. These changes will go into effect as soon as the Departments of Treasury and Commerce have issued specific regulations, which may take up to three months. These regulations will close the door to “regular” tourism by US citizens—travel for the sole purpose of tourism—but it will leave in place the 12 categories of authorized travel, including the category that covers BTT’s license. Likewise, direct flights, cruises, and tours will continue as before. However, provisions allowing travel under the 12 categories will be strictly enforced.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has been advised that these changes will not affect our Cuba License Program, which is covered under the 12 categories of authorized travel. US citizens who made travel plans with deposits for a Cuba trip prior to the new regulations being implemented will be permitted to proceed. New travelers will be required to travel as a part of a group visiting Cuba for a specific licensed purpose, including scientific, religious, and educational, among others. BTT will continue issuing licenses to groups of travelers and anglers going to Cuba who comply with the rules set forth under the license we receive from the US government. The price of the license is $250.00, which must be paid by all participants. The proceeds from the license fee benefit flats conservation programs.
In brief, the rules are as follows:
- Each group must have a designated Group Leader.
- The Group Leader must be pre-designated and their name provided to BTT prior to travel.
- The Group Leader must write a trip report to be submitted to BTT no later than 30 days after returning to the US. The report must include the names of all the travelers in the group and provide details of the entire trip such as where everyone stayed and what they did. It must include that the group interacted with Cubans and helped further BTT’s research initiatives in Cuba.
- In compliance with the above, the Group Leader must report where travelers fished, describe the vessels they boarded, report on water conditions, fish species encountered, fish abundance at sites visited, the condition of the marine habitat, catch and release practices, personal experience with guides, and other information that will help the organization track the status of the Cuban fishery and those using the resource. As additional research projects arise, BTT may ask licensed travelers to participate in specific ways. These may include, for example, BTT tagging programs or DNA fin clip programs.