Archive | November, 2013

Bimini Blue Coalition granted leave to apply for judicial review

Originally Published in The Nassau Guardian

Telling the Supreme Court that the “threat to Bimini’s future is substantial”, attorneys for the Bimini Blue Coalition have won leave to apply for a judicial review of the North Bimini Ferry Terminal and 4.5 acre man-made offshore island currently under construction off Bimini by Resorts World  Bimini.

Meanwhile, the group will find out in court on Thursday if their further applications for an injunction against the ongoing construction work – until it can be determined that the developer has all necessary authorizations – and their demand for the disclosure of all “permits, approvals, leases and licenses” obtained by the development to date, will be granted.

Environmental attorney Romauld Ferreira of Ferreira and Co. submitted the application for leave to seek a judicial review of the project, in addition to the injunction and “discovery” request seeking the disclosure of permits obtained, in the Freeport Supreme Court late last week.

Ferreira, a long-standing critic of the project, had earlier threatened to move ahead with the action if letters sent to the government calling for the work to be halted did not elicit a response by last Thursday.

Ferreira could not be reached for comment yesterday, however, another attorney with knowledge of the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment officially, said the decision by the court to grant the group leave to apply for a judicial review has given them a “foot in the door” that they were looking for.

The group now expects attorneys for Resorts World Bimini to vigorously argue against the injunction in court on Thursday, so that it can continue with the construction work, for which it has indicated it has an aggressive completion schedule. It is not yet clear when the group’s request for a judicial review will be heard.

In the submissions made to the Supreme Court on behalf of the Bimini Blue Coalition it is argued that without an injunction pending the final hearing of the judicial review, “the whole point of the Planning and Subdivisions Act and the Buildings Regulatory Act will be rendered nugatory (and) substantial and irreversible damage will have been suffered by the marine environment.”

Michelle Malcolm, director of public affairs for Resorts World Bimini, said yesterday that the company did not wish to comment on the matter, however the company has repeatedly defended the project, suggesting that it will bring economic benefits to the Bimini community and beyond.

Intended to allow easy docking of the company’s superfast ferry service, the North Bimini Ferry Terminal project, which includes a 1,000-foot pier and a 4.5 acre island, has been highly controversial since it came to light, attracting criticism in particular from the applicant in the judicial review matter, the Bimini Blue Coalition, in addition to the Bahamas National Trust.

In the application for leave for a judicial review, the Bimini Blue Coalition suggested that the project is “insensitive both to the natural environment and to the character of the island, and there is a high risk that it will prove unsustainable – after it has had an irreversible impact on Bimini’s natural resources.”

The application notes many potential negative impacts of the project highlighted in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) commissioned by Resorts World Bimini itself, and states that “having desperately cast about to identify any real positives at all for the development” the EIA lists “positives for the developers, not for the community”.

 

Prime Minister Perry Christie; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis; the Town Planning Committee; RWBB Resorts Management Ltd; RWBB Management Ltd; Bimini Superfast Charter Ltd and RAV Bahamas are listed as respondents in the matter.

Questioning whether proper procedures were followed prior to the commencement of construction by Resorts World Bimini, the application suggests that the latter four of these entities “have and continue to commit offenses under the legislation in place to regulate development and preserve the natural environment of The Bahamas and that the government ministers and agencies empowered by statute to take action in relation thereto have done nothing despite these matters having been brought to their
attention.”

The Bimini Blue Coalition defines itself in the judicial review application as a “Bahamian company formed expressly to represent the collective interests of persons committed to protecting the islands of Bimini”.

“Its members include… local residents and landowners as well as members of the public residing in The Bahamas, all of whose interests and rights are affected by the activities of the developers.”

Read Original Article Here

Save The Bays Raises Alarm Over Treasure Cay Project North Abaco Chief Councilor Requests EIA

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A surging environmentalist group is raising the alarm over what they call “yet another irresponsible construction project” in the Family Islands.

Following a recent tour of the Treasure Sands Club in Abaco, directors from Save The Bays expressed concern and dismay over dredging off a world-famous beach.

Treasure Cay, known for its pristine three miles of uninterrupted sand, has remained a point of pride for Abaconians. Save The Bays said Bahamians are expressing “deep pain” over the lack of transparency and dialogue by developers, a sentiment being echoed by local officials.

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“We just want to know what the impact will be,” said Gary Smith, Chief Councilor for the North Abaco District. “We want to see an Environmental Impact Assessment performed by an independent, reputable company. We want to see the Environmental Management Plan written by Keith Bishop, Principal Engineer at Islands by Design, and we would like to see the extent of the plans that Treasure Sands has for this area.”

The development currently features a high-end club, pool, bar and restaurant experience, although plans are afoot to build a boutique hotel on the beach and docking facilities.

While Smith criticized the lack of transparency, he noted that the community is not against development. He urged both the developer and government to engage the public and follow the rules of public consultation before starting construction in a delicate ecosystem.

Joseph Darville, Bimini Waterkeeper and a director for Save The Bays, said the dredging may cause “irreparable damage” to the habitat of bonefish, tarpon, snappers, turtles, lobsters and a host of other marine species. Development could “drive away” wildlife, he said, and the area is bordered by fragile mangroves.

“They enter our midst, bearing the tokens of a few jobs for Bahamians, seductively hypnotizing and mesmerizing our leaders, in order to carry out their work of greed. All we ask for is responsible development, for people who appreciate and respect our Bahamian environment,” said Darville. “None of us owns this land or the seabed, not you, not me. Our land, our seabed is held in trust for future generations. How dare someone come in and destroy what is not theirs. Our beloved leaders must not allow this kind of rape and pillaging of our land to go on in the name of a few occasional jobs.”

Save The Bays’ protest in Abaco is the third major campaign against unregulated development for the growing environmental movement in recent months. In Bimini, Malaysian-based conglomerate Genting Group is moving ahead with a 1,000-foot pier to accommodate cruise ships from Florida in an effort to fuel a new mega project and Save The Bays has continued to agitate to make Clifton Park a protected marine area.

Similar to the issues that are being faced in Bimini, the Treasure Sands Club did not release a proper environmental impact assessment or an environmental management plan to the public and local residents were not consulted prior to the start of construction. Several of those residents along with a Save The Bays partner organization called Bimini Blue Coalition were outspoken, begging for information about what was planned for their small island. The Bimini EIA was eventually published on the BEST website after the two groups made repeated calls for it, including the Bahamas National Trust. When it was finally made available, it sparked grave concerns over the proposed development in proportion to the size of the island and even greater concerns over its impact on the environment.

Fred Smith, QC, a top attorney and another director for Save The Bays, noted “that activities in Treasure Cay are indicative of what is happening throughout the country.” Smith, who is also a partner at Callenders & Co, has pushed government for the promised Freedom of Information Act, which he feels would offer more transparency and accountability. “More than 5,000 people have signed a Save The Bays petition (www.savethebays.bs) urging passage of a Freedom of Information Act and an Environmental Protection Act,” he said and he called on central government to stop “ignoring the laws and casting aside the pleas of local officials.”

Leading Environmental Group demands Accountability

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Save The Bays reiterated their call for the need for mapping the oil spill at the Clifton power plant in Nassau, based on the recent report by Bahamas Government consultant, Simon Townend, a KPMG (Bahamas) partner, who confirmed that BEC may have potentially massive, but as yet unknown, environmental liabilities arising from oil spillsand other pollution, including at the Clifton power plant.

Romauld “Romi” Ferreira, a director of Save The Bays, has been urging the government-run entity to see the “big picture” by mapping out the total amount of oil lurking in ground water beneath Clifton.

“By laying bare the facts, a true portrait of accountability and recovery should emerge,” Ferreira said. Townend was quoted as saying, “It’s going to take a lot of work and money to figure out what the damage is. It could be $40 million, it could be $80m, it could be over $100 million to sort out the environmental issues. But we don’t know what the figure is until the work is done.”

“This underground plume must be mapped in order to determine the best method of product recovery,” Ferreira said. “The product recovery then ought to be led by a suitable qualified private contractor until the target amount of product is recovered. A Freedom of Information Act would guarantee stakeholder access to this information instead of the public being kept in the dark about issues which dramatically impact them.” Not only do the bidders for BEC need to know the extent of the problem, but the Bahamian people also have a right to know how much damage has been caused.

Save The Bays Director, Sam Duncombe, echoed Ferreira’s calls for the importance of Freedom of Information act. “None of these proposals for the privatization of BEC have been made public. This appears to be round two of the Government seeking bids to deal with BEC without disclosure. This arrogant attitude was not tolerated then and it will not be tolerated now. The Bahamas is going to have to get a handle on the continued problem of oil spills at Clifton before we attempt to sell BEC, least we find ourselves in a place where the purchaser sues the government (The Bahamian People) for lack of disclosure.”

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Duncombe continues to express her concerns that in addition to their failure to address oil spills at Clifton, the Government’s failure to address alternative energy options continues to place our country in danger.

Duncombe explains, “There is no reason for our energy needs to continue to be at the expense of present and future generations, especially with the infinite and exciting potential of renewable energies in this country such as solar, wind and tidal. Investing in renewables would require retooling both in capital and human investment. The ball lays squarely at Government’s feet to vigorously pursue the renewable energy market. Our government must reduce fossil fuel dependency, maintain energy security and encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It is essential to the long-term security of The Bahamas that we adopt alternative sources of energy. They must make LEDs and solar water heaters duty free, laws must be changed that allow individuals to install alternative generating power for their homes and businesses, and they must vigorously pursue other initiatives that will secure our energy future with clean, reliable, available, renewable alternatives.”

Save The Bays, a non-profit organisation led by leading members of the Bahamian community, has continued to shine a spotlight on decades of damage to The Bahamas’ prized marine environment and to call for the adoption of a Freedom of Information Act. To learn more visit www.savethebays.bs and consider signing their petition to ask the government to implement this act.

Bimini Judicial Review ‘Very Imminent’

Originally Published in The Nassau Guardian

By: Scieska Adderley

With the construction of the North Bimini Ferry Terminal underway and no response from key agencies contacted, a leading environmental attorney is pushing ahead for an “urgent” judicial review to be conducted on the Resorts World Bimini project.

Attorney and partner at Ferreira & Company, Romauld Ferreira, told Guardian Business that the legal action comes after there was no response to more than 10 correspondences to the relevant Cabinet ministers and government agencies sent out within the last week.

“No, we’re not happy because they haven’t consulted Biminites. In our view we haven’t been supplied with, nor do we have any evidence to show that they have obtained the requisite permits that are required by law, so we’re not happy. We can never be happy with that situation,” he revealed yesterday.

“So we’re headed for a judicial review in this matter. These people are rushing ahead with their
construction and doing what it is they have to. If we wait too long, then it will be a moot point because there would be nothing to protect against, because it would have already been done. There is a sense of urgency in relation to what’s going on.”

Last month, an executive summary of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposed ferry terminal and the 4.5 acre offshore island being constructed by Resorts World Bimini suggests that the ferry service will bring an additional 570,000 tourists to Bimini each year, an increase of 11 times the current number of visitors, which will “boost the local economy and employment”.

However, the EIA summary adds that the dredging and new island will “create a direct loss of low relief marine habitat including algae, sponges and a low density of corals”. And it found that a polling of 50 local Biminites indicates that while many felt the project would create an “economic benefit”, they also feared its impact on the marine environment and fisheries, disruptions, issues of “inconvenience and behavior” and the overall viability of the ferry service that the pier is intended to accommodate.

Guardian Business obtained the document a day after Resorts World Bimini confirmed it has been
granted construction permits for the pier in the absence of the public dissemination of the EIA related to the project.

The Bahamas National Trust also expressed concern about the construction of the jetty and offshore structures near to the coral reefs.

“The EIA actually condemns the development itself. According to it, the negative impacts are going to be extremely high. They ought to have meetings and do certain public studies before construction. And one of the key studies that they have asked for before construction is a demand study to see if the ferry boats service and the amounts of visitors they say will come, to see if that’s in fact true,” Ferreira added.

He noted that the court documents are expected shortly, with the judicial review “very imminent.”

Read Original Article Here

Save the Bays Director Visits Grand Bahama School

 

Joe Darville, director of Save The Bays & Bimini Waterkeeper (middle row, 5th from right) visits Mary Star of the Sea in Freeport, Grand Bahama to conduct a one-day environmental workshop with students. Principal Robert Nab (center) & Guidance Counselor Paytrilee Pinder (back row, left) were presented with copies of the award-winning “Islands of Life”, a film depicting the rich beauty of the land and sea of The Bahamas. The documentary was produced by award-winning cinematographer and producer Bo Boudart (Beau Monde Productions).

Joe Darville, director of Save The Bays & Bimini Waterkeeper (middle row, 5th from right) visits Mary Star of the Sea in Freeport, Grand Bahama to conduct a one-day environmental workshop with students. Principal Robert Nab (center) & Guidance Counselor Paytrilee Pinder (back row, left) were presented with copies of the award-winning “Islands of Life”, a film depicting the rich beauty of the land and sea of The Bahamas. The documentary was produced by award-winning cinematographer and producer Bo Boudart (Beau Monde Productions).

Joe Darville, director of the fast growing environmental movement Save The Bays, conducted a one-day educational workshop on conservation and the environment for students of Mary, Star of the Sea in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

At the invitation of the Bahamas Hotel Association, the ongoing session series was designed to inform and educate the nation’s youth on the benefits of being good stewards of the environment, highlighting how dependent the country’s main industry, tourism, is on the rich and lush terrestrial and sea landscape. Over the next months, Darville will tour hospitality clubs in public and private schools on New Providence, Grand Bahama and other Family Islands.

“The sessions have been well received,” said Darville, a retired educator who also serves as the Bahamas Waterkeeper. “The students are not only eager to learn about their environment, they also expressed a keen sense of their personal responsibility in caring for and preserving their surroundings, whether on land or in the sea.”

Assisted by Nikie Severe, a member of the Save The Bays Youth Ambassador program, Darville gave the group of young students a tour of the beauty of the land and sea of the islands through the viewing of “Islands of Life”, an award-winning documentary produced by cinematographer and producer Bo Boudart (Beau Monde Productions) and his Bahamian team. The film showcased the diversity of the islands, the pine forests and giant land crabs of Andros, the flamingos in Inagua, the silver bonefish on the sandy banks in Grand Bahama, the Exuma Land & Sea Park as well as the life of the mangroves and the coral reefs.

“These students were among the youngest that we’ve had the opportunity to speak with,” said Darville. “The level of attention they showed and the curiosity shown in the questions they asked were so impressive that the question and answer period could have gone on for hours. It’s refreshing that we are adding to their awareness and that the students were so engaged.”

Principal of Mary Star of the Sea, Robert Nabb and guidance counselor Paytrilee Pinder were presented with copies of “Islands of Life” for use by the Hospitality Class and for the school’s library.  Copies of the film will also be provided to schools previously visited by Save The Bays.

Students of Mary Star of The Sea in Freeport, Grand Bahama eagerly ask questions during a one-day environmental workshop led by Joe Darville, director of Save The Bays and Bimini Waterkeeper.

Students of Mary Star of The Sea in Freeport, Grand Bahama eagerly ask questions during a one-day environmental workshop led by Joe Darville, director of Save The Bays and Bimini Waterkeeper.

Darville has accepted the task of spreading the mission of Save The Bays which is to “impact every child in this nation with the awesome responsibility each has to care for and preserve this very unique land and sea which the great and good creator has entrusted to our stewardship.” Established earlier this year, the organization has formed partnerships with other environmental groups, lending support and strength. Its petition to government calling for an end to unregulated development, passage of an Environmental Protection Act and a Freedom of Information Act among other tenets has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures and it has some 13,000 followers and fans on Facebook. The petition is available at www.savethebays.bs

 

Save The Bays Meets with Coalition to Save Clifton at Jaws Beach

UNITED TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT – Members of the Coalition to Save Clifton and Save The Bays met at Jaws Beach today, ushering in a new chapter of united efforts to preserve and protect the marine environment. Pictured l-r, Coalition members Celi Moss, founder Rev. C.B. Moss, Save The Bays Director Joseph Darville, Save The Bays partner organization Re-earth founder Sam Duncombe and Coalition member Paul Moss.  (Photo by BVS)

UNITED TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT – Members of the Coalition to Save Clifton and Save The Bays met at Jaws Beach today, ushering in a new chapter of united efforts to preserve and protect the marine environment. Pictured l-r, Coalition members Celi Moss, founder Rev. C.B. Moss, Save The Bays Director Joseph Darville, Save The Bays partner organization Re-earth founder Sam Duncombe and Coalition member Paul Moss. (Photo by BVS)

Two groups of concerned citizens, each working toward an end to unregulated development and protection of The Bahamas marine environment, drew one step closer today when they met at Jaws Beach.

Rev. CB Moss and the Coalition to Save Clifton met with representatives of Save The Bays, the fast-growing environmental movement partnering with organisations around The Bahamas to protect the archipelago’s wetlands, waters and bays.

“We stand here today at what we believe signals the advent of a new chapter in conservation history,” said Rev. CB Moss, “a chapter in which Bahamians from all walks of life are standing together to save our Bahamaland.”

Save The Bays Director and Bahamas Waterkeeper Joseph Darville agreed. “We know that there was confusion at the initial introduction of our organization because the names were so similar, both coalitions with one called Protect Clifton Bay and the other Save Clifton. But the reality is that the history between us, or many of us, goes back 14 years when we first reached out to protect Clifton and its history for future generations of Bahamians and historians to study and treasure.”

Thumbs up – for voices united in the campaign to save the wetlands, bays and waters of The Bahamas. Pictured today at Jaws Beach, Rev. CB Moss, founder Coalition to Save Clifton, left, and Director of Save The Bays Joseph Darville signaling the start of a new chapter in the history of the environmental movement.  (Photo by BVS)

Thumbs up – for voices united in the campaign to save the wetlands, bays and waters of The Bahamas. Pictured today at Jaws Beach, Rev. CB Moss, founder Coalition to Save Clifton, left, and Director of Save The Bays Joseph Darville signaling the start of a new chapter in the history of the environmental movement. (Photo by BVS)

Environmentalist Sam Duncombe was part of the campaign 14 years ago and she was at the site today when the historic handshake took place.

“All we have to do is look around us and see this 208-acre park that is now in the public trust,” said Duncombe, “Thousands of Bahamians came together to save their land and where we stand today is a living example of what you can achieve when people come together for a common cause.”

“The Coalition to Save Clifton issued an appeal for financial support and Save The Bays answered that appeal,” said Rev. Moss. “We are delighted that they did so and appeal to others to follow their lead. We hope that in the not too distant future our two organisations who are pursuing the same goal along parallel lines will work together. In the meantime, the Coalition will take under consideration a more formal arrangement, but for the time being we are pleased just to know that Save The Bays which has provided support for others finds the Coalition to Save Clifton worthy of its support.”

Founded in March of this year, Save The Bays has swept the islands, teaming up with the Bahamas National Trust in its Conchservation campaign, lending support and a voice to the Bimini Blue Coalition, partnering with Earthcare. Comprised of Bahamian and international members united in their commitment to preserve and protect the Bahamian environment through proactive policy change, education, legal action and advocacy, the non-profit, non-governmental organization has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures on its petition, hosted on Change.org, asking the Prime Minister to take on a variety of issues affecting the environment, including the passage of an Environmental Protection Act and a Freedom of Information Act, the prevention of unregulated development, establishing a Clifton Marine Park and a West New Providence Marine Managed Area, protection of the conch populations and the prevention of oil spills.

Bimini Waterkeeper: Bimini residents ‘petrified with fear’ large development will crunch tiny island, but ‘scared to talk’

Bimini Waterkeeper Joseph Darville expresses concern that a massive development plan that calls for delivering 500,000 visitors a year to the island that now attracts about 50,000 poses an historic threat to its waters, infrastructure and way of life. "Bimini will go down in the history of the Bahamas as the greatest potential tragedy to an eco- system," said the retired educator, a director of Save the Bays and environmental advocate. Nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for an Environmental Protection Act for The Bahamas.

Bimini Waterkeeper Joseph Darville expresses concern that a massive development plan that calls for delivering 500,000 visitors a year to the island that now attracts about 50,000 poses an historic threat to its waters, infrastructure and way of life. “Bimini will go down in the history of the Bahamas as the greatest potential tragedy to an eco- system,” said the retired educator, a director of Save the Bays and environmental advocate. Nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for an Environmental Protection Act for The Bahamas.

Biminites who have been quietly talking among themselves as heavy equipment stands at the ready to alter their lifestyle and their environment are “petrified with fear” about ongoing expansion efforts by Resorts World Bimini, but too scared of victimization to speak out publicly, says Bimini Waterkeeper Joseph Darville.

Speaking on a popular radio show being broadcast live from Bimini recently, Darville — who also serves as a director of the fast-growing environmental movement Save the Bays — said the majority of Biminites are resisting the development the central government thinks is good for them, but as scared as they are of the changes to lifestyle and environment, they are even more afraid to voice their opinion.

“What is happening on and around that little gem in the ocean, Bimini, will go down in the history of the Bahamas as the greatest potential tragedy to an eco system,”

said Darville.

The tiny island, with a population of less than 2,000, has been grappling with considerable changes as construction ramps up by Genting Group, a giant conglomerate originating from Malaysia. The resort developer is targeting up to 1,500 tourists daily from nearby Florida following the construction of a cruise ship terminal.

“There were hundreds of people who signed a petition against that particular development, but people are afraid to come out and face them publicly because they fear possible political and economic repercussions,” said the retired educator, environmental and human rights advocate. “They are afraid. They are petrified with fear.”

Droves of Biminites have signed a petition against development or voiced concerns in private corners. But activists claim most residents are fearful of taking protests to the next level.

Darville noted that many Biminites have been kept ignorant of the developer’s plans, and once information becomes available, “fear and anxiety” tends to take over.

Last week, a long-awaited Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project spoke for them. According to the report, two-thirds of Biminites did not want an increase in the island’s tourism arrivals. It also identified a number of disturbing environmental concerns should development by Genting Group continue and concluded that the scale of the resort that would eventually aim to bring in 500,000 visitors a year to the island that now attracts about 50,000 would have cultural, environmental and infrastructural impact.

Despite the report, many Bahamians remain in the shadows.

Fred Smith, environmentalist and senior partner at Callenders & Co, said most locals are more concerned about protecting their livelihoods.

Highlighting the “political culture of intimidation and victimization” in the Bahamas, Smith felt both political parties have allowed this environment to fester. Resorts World Bimini has rapidly become the largest employer on the island, making its overall economic influence more profound.

According to one local resident who wished to remain anonymous, development on Bimini has been destructive and haphazard for years.

“I walk my dogs on the beach every morning, and I can always tell when they are dredging in Bimini Bay,” said the resident who has lived on the island for more than two decades. “There is a ribbon of dead pink shrimp from one end straight up to the northern end.”

Describing herself as “patriotic”, a Bahamian businesswoman also conceded that she must be “careful”. Success on the island depends on positive relationships with those holding the strings of influence, she said, and while most Biminites talk about these issues privately, they tread carefully to avoid victimization.

“You have to watch your back,” she added. Others who gathered around the radio show production, Issues of the Day, live from the Bimini Big Game Club, nodded in agreement, but covered their faces to avoid being seen when the radio show airs on Channel 14, JCN. Half a dozen said off-air that they had been negatively impacted, losing taxi fares, fishing charters and other business since the Bimini Superfast ferry began service this summer, transporting guests directly from Miami to the Resort World Bimini casino door and zipping back to Florida in a matter of hours. Only one was willing to speak on radio. Government argues that more jobs are forthcoming and construction of two hotels will boost all business.

Darville claimed that the situation on Bimini and elsewhere illustrates how Bahamians are “as enslaved or more enslaved now than we were in the beginning”.

The human rights watchdog said that political leaders have fine tuned “psychological enslavement”, keeping Bahamians in the dark on various issues and far removed from the decision-making process, even in matters that affect them directly.  Meanwhile, he said, most citizens remain  unaware of their rights.

“We are no longer plantation people who are satisfied with not knowing anything with respect to what happens to them,” he added. “We are a democratic society and therefore we expect more.”

Darville, Smith and other Bahamian leaders have continued to push government for the promised Freedom of Information Act, which would offer more transparency and accountability in the public sector arena. Nearly 5,000 people have signed a Save the Bays petition www.savethebays.bs urging passage of a Freedom of Information Act and an Environmental Protection Act.

King of rake’n scrape lends voice to queen of conch

Save the Bays director Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie, a musician on an environmental mission, tours radio stations with the Bahamas National Trust to promote his latest single, Conchservation, bringing awareness to an initiative to preserve the country’s dwindling conch population.

Save the Bays director Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie, a musician on an environmental mission, tours radio stations with the Bahamas National Trust to promote his latest single, Conchservation, bringing awareness to an initiative to preserve the country’s dwindling conch population.

The king of rake ‘n scrape is lending his voice to the queen of conch.

Kirkland ‘KB” Bodie – a musician on a mission – released his newest environmental song today, a tribute to the national delicacy and a plea to conserve conch.

Recorded and produced in conjunction with a Bahamas National Trust (BNT) initiative called Conchservation, the song by the same name highlights the campaign to save the bright pink mollusk so closely associated with the Bahamian diet and culture.

The BNT initiative is supported by the fast-growing environmental movement, Save the Bays.

“As a musician who has travelled around the world, I’ve seen the degradation in other places, the harm people have done to their environment and I think it’s so important to appreciate the beauty and splendor in our nation,” said KB.

‘Conchservation’ is the latest in a string of songs by the popular artist whose songs often combine a distinctive Bahamian rhythm with a strong Bahamian message. The message: conserve conch, preserve and respect the national delicacy before it disappears here as it has all around the Caribbean. Its chorus “We are a conchy nation, we need to think conchservation,” is aimed at sensitizing the public to the need to heed the basic rule of conching – don’t take immature conch who have not had a chance to reproduce. A mature conch has a fully developed lip that is 15 mm thick, about the thickness of a new Bahamian penny.

Bahamas National Trust’s Conchservation program coordinator Jared Dillett tours radio stations bringing awareness to an initiative preserve the country’s dwindling conch population.

Bahamas National Trust’s Conchservation program coordinator Jared Dillett tours radio stations bringing awareness to an initiative preserve the country’s dwindling conch population.

Eric Carey, BNT Executive Director, said the momentum to preserve conch is building, thanks to a greater understanding of how quickly the stock is being depleted and a growing fear that The Bahamas will go the way of other island nations whose conch population was once plentiful. Divers today have to go further, dive deeper to find conch, some venturing 30 miles off Nassau’s shores and diving 40 feet to bring home enough for one day’s sale to individuals and restaurants whose conch salad, conch chowder, cracked conch and other conch dishes are as much a staple of the Bahamian diet as it is a sought after dish by visitors.

“Enforcing our current fishery regulations remains a challenge for The Bahamas as a result of the expansiveness of our archipelago,” said Eric Carey, BNT Executive Director. “The Department of Marine Resources needs increased support and staffing to be able to do its job properly. Further, the planned upgrades to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force fleet are critical if enforcement is to be effective.”

Released today on 100JAMZ with a line-up of other stations to follow, the song demonstrates KB’s belief that a good message can be powerfully delivered through a good beat.

“More musicians and artists need to step up and pick up serious issues and lend their talents to serious subjects,” says KB.

Conchservation was launched in April with a full day roll out at Arawak Cay when Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert Kennedy, Jr., was on hand to offer encouragement and congratulations, inspiring the crowd with the turnaround story of the Hudson River, once so polluted it was dangerous and now fresh enough to swim, fresh and drink.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Bahamas National Trust for taking on this important mission,” said Kennedy, speaking to locals and visitors who gathered at Frankie Gone Bananas April 27. And in helping to launch the new KB single, Carey thanked sponsors and partners who made the Conchservation initiative possible. For more information www.bnt.bs.

Sample Letter to Send to Government Officials

We need YOU!
The proposed cruise ship terminal will be built on and could possibly destroy FOURTEEN dive sites in Bimini! It will also have many other environmental impacts that will affect the whole island and maybe those close to them. Please call or write our Prime Minister or your Members of Parliament and ask them to STOP the construction of this terminal. Here are the contacts for our government officials, http://www.savethebays.bs/get-involved-2/send-letters-to-your-government/ you can make a difference but they need to hear from YOU!

 

Use the following sample letter to send to your government official, or you can write your own.

 

Sample Letter

————

Dear Government Official,

I am writing this letter to ask that you please do everything in your power to stop construction of the cruise ship terminal in Bimini.  The construction of this terminal will affect fourteen dive sites in Bimini, and have countless other negative environmental effects.

The recently released Environmental Impact Assessment shows that this development is not in the best interest of Bimini or The Bahamas.  Please protect what is ours for the future by stopping this development.

Finally, to help protect The Bahamas against developments like this in the future, you should do your part to implement a Freedom of Information Act.  With a FOIA, Bahamians will be put first and we will know about developments before they start not after.  Please help save The Bahamas for Bahamians.

 

Sincerely,

Concerned Bahamian Citizen

Save the Bays Applauds Ryan Pinder for Freedom of Information Push – Group Secures Nearly 5,000 Online Signatures

Ryan-Pinder

A fast-growing environmental group is applauding Financial Services Minister Ryan Pinder for supporting legislation that would give Bahamians access to key government information.

Save the Bays, which is committed to preserving, protecting and restoring The Bahamas’ marine environment, has been pushing for the government to enact the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The group has secured nearly 5,000 online signatures from people calling for the government to bring the legislation into force, noting that The Bahamas remains one of the few countries in the world without freedom of information legislation.

The Ingraham administration passed the legislation towards the end of its third non-consecutive term in office with the effective date for its implementation set for July 1, 2012. However, the bill was later withdrawn by the current government which had taken office with the May 2012 election.

Now, Save the Bays says, it anticipates a re-introduction and lauds Pinder, a member of Cabinet, for urging its passage when he was a member of the Opposition party in 2012.

“We are very pleased to know that the current Financial Services Minister, the Honourable Ryan Pinder, called for the passage of a Freedom of Information Act when he was speaking for the Opposition a little over a year ago,” said Save the Bays director Fred Smith. “We trust that he still believes today what he said then that access to public information is ‘an important hallmark of a mature democracy.’”

Those words were part of a contribution Pinder made to parliament in March 2012.

“We support the freedom of information for Bahamians; we support the ability for the Bahamian public to hold their government accountable,” he said, during his contribution to the Freedom of Information Bill 2012 in the House of Assembly.

“This legislation gives Bahamian citizens and residents the general right to access of information held by the central government and its agencies and other designated entities, subject to certain defined exceptions…A friend once said, ‘access to public information is an important hallmark of a mature democracy.’ We should treat this legislation with the importance it demands,” he said.

Environmental protection groups as well as the media have complained for years about a lack of access to important environmental documents.

The issue was thrust back into the headlines recently after Bimini residents complained that the government had allowed a foreign developer to begin construction on a cruise terminal in North Bimini without consulting them. The terminal is being built by Resorts World Bimini. A recently released Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report highlights several troubling findings, noting that the potential impact of constructing the terminal is expected to be high. The Bimini issue was one of many that highlighted the need for freedom of information legislation.

Earlier this year, local media organisations called for a Freedom of Information Act when they were denied access to a report about charges that a group of Cuban detainees had been beaten by defence force officers at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre. Media eventually got access to the report into those abuse allegations after leaked documents surfaced.

Mr. Pinder said even though the former government brought the legislation to parliament, it did not seem that it had put the necessary electronic oversight in place to ensure that it was “properly implemented.”

In fact, the minister expressed serious doubts that Bahamians would benefit from its enactment.

“It is unclear how effective the [FOIA] would be in providing actual freedom of information to Bahamians. When the provision exempting information subject to the Official Secrets Act is taken together with all the possible avenues for the government (through ministers, permanent secretaries, heads of other public authorities and information managers) to prohibit access to information (under the various exemptions), it certainly raises the question as to what exactly  will change when . . . it becomes law,” he said.

Article 19 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Ninety-three countries around the world have an FOIA, including Jamaica, the United States, the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China, Uganda and Nigeria.

Save the Bays was established in March 2013 by a group of concerned individuals for the protection of The Bahamas’ marine environment.