Archive | February, 2014

Parks, Landfill to take front & centre on Save The Bays ZNS Radio Show Thursday

Two experts on disparate uses of land – parks and landfills — are on tap to lead a lively discussion on the ZNS radio show ‘Voice of the Bays’ Thursday, February 27 at 3 pm.

“At first glance, it might appear that you could not have two more different views on land-related topics,” said Joseph Darville, host and education director of Save The Bays, the national environmental organization that produces the show. “But both of this week’s guests share a vision to maximize the use of land in their portfolios in the best way for future generations and I think the interviews and open lines may lead to very interesting conversation and ideas.”

The line-up for the show includes Grand Bahama Landfill’s Lou Carroll and Lakeshia Anderson, Parks Planner for the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), Grand Bahama. A former assistant fisheries officer at the Department of Marine Resources, Ms. Anderson is now working with the BNT’s Grand Bahama Regional Committee on proposals to expand the Lucayan National Park and Person Cay National Park as well as developing proposals to designate new protected areas in East Grand Bahama and the North Shore. Darville’s co-hosts include EARTHCARE founder Gail Woon and Youth Environment Ambassadors’ Nikie Severe.

The show airs on ZNS 810 AM in Nassau, Grand Bahama, Berry Islands, Abaco & North Andros or 104.5 FM in Grand Bahama or 107.9 FM in Bimini. Call in numbers to join the discussion are 352-3984/5 in Freeport, and toll free at (242) 300-6233.

Students Wow Seasoned Environmentalist

Tapping into natural thoughts – Save the Bays Education Director Joe Darville inviting students to use their five senses to describe the environment in its purest form at an eco-presentation at Holmes Rock Primary.

Tapping into natural thoughts – Save the Bays Education Director Joe Darville inviting students to use their five senses to describe the environment in its purest form at an eco-presentation at Holmes Rock Primary.

Even for former educator and retired principal Joseph Darville, the thought of spending the next three hours teaching 130 kids in primary school about the environment was daunting.

But when he walked into the auditorium at Holmes Rock Primary, Grand Bahama, and saw the excited look on children’s faces and heard the enthusiasm in their voices when they answered his first question, worry melted away like ice in August. Suddenly the half day was too short to share all the information with eager students about what makes The Bahamas so special.

“The first thing I did was ask the children to go to the window and look outside. ‘Look around. What do you see, taste, hear? What do you feel?’ I asked them.” Responses ranged from feeling salt on skin, hints of water in the air and an overall steadiness of the earth we are all fortunate to walk on, he said. Darville asked them to name what they were looking at. “The first little boy said ‘air.’ The second gave another answer and the third, I don’t know where he got it from, he was so little, but he piped up and said, ‘That’s the environment.’ I couldn’t get over how much these students actually knew, which is why I think they were so enthusiastic about learning more and I have to credit Principal Leslie Newton and her staff.”

Today, the Save The Bays education director saluted Holmes Rock Primary for encouraging students to become stewards of their immediate environment.

“Principal Newton and her staff are dedicated to creating a core connection between the students and their surroundings, hoping to teach them how to conserve and preserve our islands, a core philosophy of the national environmental movement Save the Bays,” said Darville. The long time nature nurturer was invited to interact with students and staff on their aptly named Health Fair Day February 18, calling it “a tremendous joy and celebration to speak to these young and vibrant hearts, both young and old.”

The school visit was part of a series sponsored by Save The Bays, touching hundreds of young people, sensitizing them to their surroundings.

For more information or to schedule a school visit, please go to www.savethebays.bs

Protecting Our Wetlands

Published in The Nassau Guardian

By: William Wong

 

We all desire to progress. And developing our country requires a definitive approach to make it happen. However, development should not happen at the expense or degradation of our marine environment. We welcome development in all shapes and sizes and the benefits they provide in growing the economy and providing employment.

These are the only islands we have and if we continue to let these “fast-talking, looking-to-make-a-quick- buck” developers wreck it with dredging and the destruction of our wetlands, it will surely come back to haunt us.

Hear me out: I’m not placing the finger of blame on developers alone, but I’m saying the decision makers should ensure that developers who come here comply with environmental laws, along with protecting and preserving what they meet here.

The developers are only part of the problem; our own people also play a part in this destruction with indiscriminate dumping not only on land, but in the area of our wetlands, with items such as toxic building materials, batteries and other
harmful refuse.

Wetlands have many benefits, and as recently noted by Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett, 2014 has been named, “The International Year of Family Farming”. For the recent, World Wetlands Day, the Ramsar Convention, which The Bahamas signed on to on June 7, 1997, chose the theme “Wetlands and Agriculture, Partners of Growth”.

Wetlands provide reliable sources of water and fertile soils for agriculture. With that said, Dorsett noted it was important that there is sustainable management of wetlands.

Additionally, Dorsett said many countries have noticed wetlands disappearing at a rapid rate, which led to declining fresh water, fisheries and water fowl populations, and increasing flood episodes.

It should be noted that over 168 contracting countries are presently party to the Ramsar Convention with some 2,177 areas listed as Wetlands of International Importance.

The Bahamas National Trust has done a tremendous job educating our people, especially the youth, on the very fragile eco-systems in The Bahamas. But more has to be done to ensure that our environment is protected and stiffer penalties need to be handed down on those who break the rules. In real estate we have to constantly think about the bigger picture, while we invite people to come here and make it home by building second homes and businesses, an environment – wetlands and all – in disarray would not benefit them or us. So, let’s do the right thing and protect our environment, inclusive of wetlands.

Development is necessary to any country, but we must be ever so aware that it does not destroy ours – it’s the only one we have.
• William Wong is co-partner of Darville-Wong Realty. He was also a two-term
president of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and The Bahamas Real
Estate Association. Questions or comments can be emailed to
William@wongsrealty.com.

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Save The Bays Congratulates reEarth for Mounting Blackbeard’s Cay Judicial review

No longer a lone voice – Noted environmentalist Sam Duncombe, front, founder of reEarth, is pictured with Save The Bays attorneys from Callenders & Co, Martin A. Lundy, left, Fred Smith, QC, and R. Dawson Malone following a judge’s decision last week to allow for Judicial Review in the case against Blackbeard’s Cay. For 24 years, Duncombe has fought an often lonely battle to end the practice of dolphin captivity and build sensitivity toward environmental protection and preservation.

No longer a lone voice – Noted environmentalist Sam Duncombe, front, founder of reEarth, is pictured with Save The Bays attorneys from Callenders & Co, Martin A. Lundy, left, Fred Smith, QC, and R. Dawson Malone following a judge’s decision last week to allow for Judicial Review in the case against Blackbeard’s Cay. For 24 years, Duncombe has fought an often lonely battle to end the practice of dolphin captivity and build sensitivity toward environmental protection and preservation.

In what it called a potential ‘watershed moment,’ Save The Bays today lavished congratulations on reEarth, the organization that succeeded in winning the right to Judicial Review for issues related to captive dolphins and unregulated development at Blackbeard’s Cay.

“We are thrilled to have such a committed and fiercely dedicated group on the side of what is right for animals and right for the environment,” said Fred Smith, QC, referring to reEarth, a community partner of Save The Bays which supported the legal action by attorneys from Callenders & Co. “For the past 24 years, reEarth has been a solid, often lone voice speaking out on many environmental issues and we are proud to stand by them in one that is so important.”

Lying off the northern coast of Cable Beach across from Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort, Blackbeard’s Cay (the former Balmoral Island,) has been the target of criticism from several arenas including environmentalists, animal rights advocates and downtown retailers. While local businesses feared the impact diverting cruise passengers to the cay, in particular, could have on the heart of Nassau and on other excursions, environmentalists and animal rights advocates expressed outrage over what they said were “intolerable and inhumane conditions” in which eight dolphins imported from Honduras in July 2013 were being kept.

“There is no protection from storms, no shade, no quarantine or gating facilities, all required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” said reEarth founder Sam Duncombe. The water is also far too shallow, she said.

“In December, a group went to inspect the area where these eight dolphin are kept captive,” said Duncombe. Kim Aranha, President of the Bahamas Humane Society, and videographer Matthew McCoy of Abaco were among those onboard. Save The Bays last week released McCoy’s images on a YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmIVz1o9rOQ&feature=youtu.be.

Using a depth finder, Duncombe measured the water at 6-foot-9 inches at high tide.

“The regulations call for nine feet at mean low tide,” said Duncombe. “Dolphins suffer from sunburn and it is crucial for them to be able to access deep water to escape the sun’s burning rays. Dolphins dive to 30 feet and swim 50 miles a day.”

The video also included footage of fencing that investigators said could be devastating if the dolphins were not safely removed prior to a strong storm.

“That this facility has been allowed to open without any regard for the welfare of these animals is immoral, unethical and anti-conservationist,” said Duncombe.

Construction on Blackbeard’s Cay had a year-long setback after Hurricane Sandy slammed into it last year. Stingrays kept in the same pen were all killed. The facility that caters largely to cruise ships and hopes to attract locals and hotel guests opened in May.

“This has been an excruciatingly long and heartbreaking 24 years as reEarth watched and fought both governments as they allowed one facility after another to open,” said Duncombe, questioning why a fourth would be needed when there are already three in operation in or around New Providence.

“Allowing these highly intelligent, highly socialized, empathetic beings to be enslave for nothing more than profit is immoral,” said Duncombe. “These animals travel in family groups called pods. They call each other by name.

Mothers nurse their young for at least 18 months. Aunties babysit while mothers feed. Captivity is anathema to natural law, to the freedom and natural survival instincts of these animals.”

Moving the case from a fight in the press to one which the court accepted that reEarth has an arguable case by giving leave to issue Judicial Review validated the merits of the argument and is a huge step in the right direction for the protection of animals and for the rule of law, according to Smith.

Justice Stephen Isaacs heard arguments from the plaintiffs on February 6 and granted their requests for a judicial review and an early hearing date. Respondents include Prime Minister Perry Christie, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V. Alfred Gray, Director of Fisheries and Marine Resources Michael Braynen and the Town Planning Committee. Charles Carter, Cedric Saunders and Abner Pinder, all local partners, were not named. Nor was Samir Androwos, a St. Maarten businessman and the principal behind the development.

“Today may truly turn out to be a watershed moment for the rule of law as it relates to development,” said Fred Smith, one of several senior lawyers working with Save The Bays, the sweeping environmental movement that has flexed its muscle in high-profile cases from Clifton Bay to Bimini, reiterating its mantra that development is not evil, unregulated development is. Sustainable development, claims Save The Bays, is necessary, valuable and should be incentivized. Since its launch less than one year ago, Save The Bays has gained more than 13,000 followers on Facebook and has collected nearly 6,000 signatures on a petition urging passage of an Environmental Protection Act, a Freedom of Information Act and an end to unregulated development.

Unlock Green Economy For ‘Thousands Of Jobs’

Originally Published in The Tribune

By: Neil Hartnell

 

The Government was yesterday urged to create “thousands of jobs” by unlocking a ‘green economy’ in the Bahamas, a top QC calling on it to make developers finance enforcement of the main Planning law.

Fred Smith QC, the Callenders & Co attorney and partner who has led many Judicial Review actions against developments that failed to follow statutory approvals processes, rejected calls by leading developer Franklyn Wilson for the Government to substantially amend the Planning and Subdivisions Act.

Rather than water this down, Mr Smith told Tribune Business the Government should require developers to pay the costs of enforcing the Act if it was too financially burdensome for the Government to handle.

He added that the economic benefits to the Bahamas from doing so would be vast, as it would transform this nation’s reputation from one where unregulated development thrives.

Instead, Mr Smith suggested that ‘following and implementing’ the planning rules would bolster this nation as one that respected the environment and local rights, something that would attract the right kind of development and investor to these shores.

“Going green would create an economy burgeoning with the 10,000 jobs the PLP have promised,” he told Tribune Business, arguing that this would foster the likes of renewable energy and waste management industries, plus supporting regulatory agencies.

“It would mark the country as one of the most desirable places where investors would want to come and own a home, and reside. Land and housing development would boom throughout the Bahamas by going green,” Mr Smith said.

“Business and investment requires certainty of application of the laws, and a green economy creating thousands of jobs can easily be created by the Government enforcing and respecting zoning and development legislation,

“The Bahamas can be an icon of economic development if the Government would put its money where its mouth is and respects our environment.

“That would only help business – foreign and Bahamian – not hinder it. It’s the uncertainty and secret deals that create confusion and adversity for stakeholders.”

Mr Smith is the lead attorney in the Judicial Review action brought by the ReEarth environmental group against the Blackbeard’s Cay project.

During the group’s inquiries into the development, they are alleging that Michael Major, the director of physical planning, admitted the Government effectively lacked the funding to enforce critical aspects of the Planning and Subdivisions Act – such as the requirement to hold Town Meetings and public consultations before such projects are approved.

Mr Wilson, Arawak Homes’ chairman, said this showed the Government could not enforce its own planning laws.

He added that the Planning and Subdivisions Act needed to be amended “sooner rather than later” to prevent all development projects becoming bogged down in “never ending Judicial Review” actions to which they have “no defence” – because the Government has failed to follow its own statutory processes in granting approvals.

The Judicial Review actions already created by this problem have resulted in affected developers incurring major time and money costs, not to mention growing frustration on their part after complying with everything the Government has asked them to do.

Mr Smith, though, said Mr Wilson’s suggestion that the Planning and Subdivisions Act be amended or watered down was not the answer. Instead, he argued that the solution lay in making prospective developers pay.

“You cannot hope to develop sensibly and responsibly in the Bahamas unless there is implementation and enforcement of the Planning and Subdivisions Act,” the well-known QC told Tribune Business.

“So far, there has been an abject failure, hence Judicial Review. The simple way to avoid that is to comply with the law. We are a nation ruled by law, not the Wild Wild West show, and I urge the PLP not to maker changes to the Planning and Subdivisions Act.

“Except perhaps to place the financial burden of public consultation exercises, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and other regulatory oversight expenses on the developer, as occurs in many other parts of the world. The state does not bear the expense.”

Mr Smith added that the Bahamas was moving into an “era of modern and regulated development”, and said the Planning and Subdivisions Act was vital in ensuring both foreign and Bahamian investors knew “what the rules are”.

“Gone should be the day when no rules existed, and the consumer, the environment, local government and local culture had no protection and no rights,” he told Tribune Business.

“The Planning and Subdivisions Act brings the Bahamas into the modern planning, regulated world which exists throughout North America, Europe and elsewhere, where they understand the need for balance and harmony between stakeholders.”

Read original article here

New Radio Show to Tackle Environmental Issues

NEW ROLE, NEW SHOW -- Popular radio show guest Joseph Darville is taking on a new role as radio host on the first national show about the environment. ‘Voice of the Bays: The Environment Speaks’ airs weekly on ZNS starting this Thursday, February 6 at 3 pm. Along with co-hosts Gail Woon, founder of EARTHCARE Bahamas, and youth ambassador for the environment Nikie Severe, Save The Bays Director of Education Darville will tackle pressing issues in environmental protection while fostering responsible development.

NEW ROLE, NEW SHOW — Popular radio show guest Joseph Darville is taking on a new role as radio host on the first national show about the environment. ‘Voice of the Bays: The Environment Speaks’ airs weekly on ZNS starting this Thursday, February 6 at 3 pm. Along with co-hosts Gail Woon, founder of EARTHCARE Bahamas, and youth ambassador for the environment Nikie Severe, Save The Bays Director of Education Darville will tackle pressing issues in environmental protection while fostering responsible development.

A new radio show will be take on uncharted territory for call-in talk shows this week when ZNS launches ‘Voice of the Bays: The Environment Speaks’ Thursday, February 6 at 3 pm with three hosts who plan to touch on everything from the undersea world to responsible development.

The show features the familiar voices of environmentalists Joseph Darville, Save The Bays Director of Education, Gail Woon, founder of EARTHCARE Bahamas, and Nikie Severe, Youth Environmental Ambassadors. Its airing, said Darville, is made possible through a grant from Save The Bays, the people’s environmental movement sweeping the nation, while other sponsors will come on board as the show gains popularity, he believes.

“This is a great opportunity and we are very appreciative to both Save The Bays and the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas for recognizing the need to bring greater awareness to the critical issues about the environment,” said Darville, a well-known human rights and environmental advocate. “We will open up for discussion a wide range of issues — the urgent need for an Environmental Protection Act as well as an enlightened Freedom of Information act, discuss sustainable development with critical sensitivity to the preservation of our pristine marine and coastal environments, the necessity to teach present and future generations their personal role in understanding and protecting the unique and amazingly beautiful God-gifted archipelagic nation of ours. Its stewardship is a sacred responsibility as we are borrowing this heritage patrimony from our children, grandchildren and all generations to come after us.”

Call-in numbers for ‘The Environment Speaks’ are 352-3984 in Grand Bahama and 242-300-6233, toll-free nationwide. Save The Bays has also launched its school-based program on Saturdays in Grand Bahama, providing students with hands-on experiences. A Save The Bays petition calling for a Freedom of Information Act, an Environmental Protection Act and an end to unregulated development has garnered nearly 6,000 signatures. It is available at www.savethebays.bs.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCLAVE: LEADING LAWYER URGES PASSAGE OF BAHAMAS ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION ACT

Romi Ferreira during an earlier presentation calling for passage of an Environmental Protection Act, a call he re-issued as urgent during a 3-day conclave on the environment this week.

Romi Ferreira during an earlier presentation calling for passage of an Environmental Protection Act, a call he re-issued as urgent during a 3-day conclave on the environment this week.

A leading environmental lawyer and consultant for Save The Bays has called for the urgent passage of an environmental protection act, saying it will not only protect a fragile and often threatened environment but could lead to new economic prosperity by unleashing a host of profitable enterprises.

Romauld Ferreira, popular TV show host and one of the Caribbean’s top environmental lawyers, said legislation and regulations that protect the environment “provide governments with the ability to develop industry in a manner which is sustainable and respects the environment.” Further, he said, legislation that protects also enables – unlocking incentives for the development of clean energy, green solutions, prudent waste management and construction without destruction.

Ferreira was addressing the National Environmental Conclave, a by-invitation-only, three day workshop organized by the Ministry of the Environment in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, one of nearly 15 Save The Bays community partners.

“Our environmental legislative framework ought to consist of primary legislation attended to by secondary legislation establishing regulatory standards for all activities which impact the environment and giving the government the flexibility to respond in a timely manner,” Ferreira told participants. Without such a framework, unregulated development will continue to plague the country, with developers plowing ahead, sometimes without permits and oversight, without the public having an opportunity to comment on something that will change their very lifestyle, without retribution for felling protected trees or slashing mangroves and scouring wetlands.

Today, said Ferreira who has worked with leading international firms as an environmental attorney and consultant on several projects financed by the IDB and other international entities throughout the region, eight separate pieces of legislation are intended to deal with environmental matters. But without stiff regulations or dedicated resources, they are often ignored and compliance is far from ideal.

Passing the overriding umbrella BEPA with adequate regulations is the link in the chain that will pull the necklace together and better secure the beauty of the chain of islands, he said.

Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett opened the conclave, expressing his appreciation for the majesty of The Bahamas, but stopping short of calling for overriding legislation to protect it.

“I have said before that the environment of our nation is its greatest blessing, so much so that we have created a world class tourism industry based on our sun, sand, and seas,” said Dorsett. “In addition to these, we are also blessed with great landscapes, beautiful marine life, blue holes, coral reefs, indigenous trees and flowering plants and much more.” That diversity, he said, sustains life and livelihoods.

“Save The Bays is grateful to The Nature Conservancy and the Ministry of the Environment for their work in arranging the conclave,” said Joseph Darville, Education Officer and Clifton Waterkeeper. “When we heard how much appreciation the Minister said he has for those who try to protect the beauty and diversity of the Bahamian environment and that the environment ‘should be protected zealously for and by the Bahamian people’ we knew the tide had begun to change. Let us now have the courage to take the next step and pass the laws to make that wish for environmental protection a reality.”