Archive | July, 2014

Save The Bays Hosts Leading Environmentalists’ Bahamas Tour

Clifton Bay Tour – Six leading international environmentalists prepare to tour Clifton Bay off New Providence’s southwest coast July 29 with a small group of local concerned citizens as part of a visit hosted by the marine environment advocacy group Save The Bays.

Clifton Bay Tour – Six leading international environmentalists prepare to tour Clifton Bay off New Providence’s southwest coast July 29 with a small group of local concerned citizens as part of a visit hosted by the marine environment advocacy group Save The Bays.

Six leading international environmentalists are in The Bahamas today to witness firsthand the state of marine life in a country known for the beauty of its turquoise seas. United by their desire to preserve and protect the Bahamian environment, the group includes, among others, the recipient of a U.S. presidential award for environmental conservation and prominent scientists committed to the survival of sea turtles.

Hosting the group is Save The Bays, a growing environmental movement comprised of Bahamian and international members dedicated to protecting the Bahamian environment through proactive policy change, education, legal action and advocacy. Save The Bays aims to unite stakeholders and combat the environmental threats currently jeopardizing the nation’s unique marine environment.

“Having such experienced and committed conservationists survey the various threats to our marine environments points to the increased international attention that is being focused on The Bahamas,” said Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy. “These international conservationists recognize the critical importance of safeguarding the Bahamian environment, and we are honored they are taking the time out of their busy schedules to share their perspectives and expertise on how to protect our magnificent resources.”

Many of the attendees are members of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global movement of 220 local “Keepers” that fight to stop polluters, protect their chosen waterways and champion clean water as a fundamental human right. The delegation includes Rachel Silverstein, Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, Gabrielle Parent-Doliner, swim guides affiliate at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Archie Carr, who works for the Sea Turtle Conservancy, and Marydele Donnelly, also of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Sharon Khan, Waterkeeper Alliance International Director, and Alex Matthiessen, former CEO and President of Hudson Riverkeeper, the original “Waterkeeper” and New York’s leading clean water advocate. As a special assistant at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Matthiessen received a Presidential Award for his work using America’s national parks to showcase, for millions of visitors each year, the home-scale application of renewable energy and energy efficiency. In addition to McCoy, local Save The Bays participants include directors Joseph Darville and Fred Smith, QC.

“This is a great opportunity to learn from experts who have turned their passion for protection of the world’s waters into viable volunteerism,” said Darville. “We have the most beautiful waters in the world and we are now in the process of organizing ongoing monitoring, a very ambitious goal, so our eyes and ears will be wide open to hear and benefit from what others have been doing in their parts of the world and providing advice for how we can best move forward with developing monitoring methods, schedules, a roster of volunteers, boats, recording and reporting equipment.”

The Bahamas Waterkeeper visit runs from July 29-31 and includes one Family Island visit.

Win for Dolphins! Bahamian Supreme Court Orders Dolphinarium Closed

Originally published on Peta.org

By: Michelle Kretzer

July 29th, 2014

 

In a major victory for marine mammals, a Supreme Court judge in the Bahamas has ordered a “swim-with-dolphins” exhibit to shut down and release its eight captive dolphins.

The facility on Blackbeard’s Cay, off the coast of Nassau, had barely opened its doors when Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered its owners, Blue Illusions Limited,  to remove the shallow and unprotected sea pens that the dolphins were held in and restore the area to its original condition. And the victories kept coming as Justice Isaacs raised questions about the legality of importing dolphins into the Bahamas for anything other than research or preservation of the species.

The victory came on the heels of a campaign by local animal and environmental advocacy group reEarth and a petition to shutter the facility that was signed by more than 65,000 people. Siding with reEarth in the lawsuit that the organization filed against Blue Illusions Limited, Justice Isaacs found that the company, with help from government officials, had skirted building permits, ignored the public outcry against the facility, and imported the dolphins illegally. In a final blow, he ordered Blue Illusions to pay for reEarth’s costs in bringing the lawsuit. This is a historic victory for captive marine mammals, achieved because animal advocates like you refused to stay silent. Take action to help more imprisoned dolphins now.

Read original article here

Bahamas Dolphinarium Closed by Courts

Originally published on Veggie Fans

By: Williams Fanelli

July 30th, 2014

 

In a groundbreaking move last week, a judge ordered a Bahamas dolphinarium to shut its doors and release its captive dolphins. According to The Dodo, Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered the dolphinarium to close after it began gaining major attention from opposing animal advocates and a petition that gained over 65,000 signatures.

The facility was holding eight captive dolphins and planned on opening a dolphin tourist attraction on Blackbeard’s Cay to feature the marine mammals to paying customers. The company received the eight dolphins from Honduras last year, which prompted the presiding judge to raise questions regarding the legality of importing dolphins into the country for reasons other than research.

Blue Illusions Limited, the parent company of Blackbeard’s Cay, was granted a permit by officials, which the courts found to be in violation of the law. The ruling sided with local group reEarth’sargument that project details were withheld from the public and the animals were imported prior to the company obtaining permits, a clear violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Along with being shut down, Blue Illusions Limited was ordered to restore the area containing its sea pens to its original condition. “I am thrilled,” said Sam Duncombe, president of reEarth. “We’ve been fighting this issue for 24 years and finally we’ve been able to bring one of the developers with dolphins in captivity to court over the circumvention of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

Read original article here

Crawfish Season 2014/15 to open Aug. 1

The Department of Marine Resources wishes to advise the general public of the opening of the crawfish season on the August 1, 2014 to the March 31, 2015.

The Department of Marine Resources further wishes to remind fishers and all other members of the public that the harvesting and/or of undersized crawfish is against the law and persons are to cease and desist the practice of illegally harvesting these resources. Fishers are also cautioned against capturing egg-bearing crawfish as this practice further aids in the depletion of the crawfish stock in The Bahamas.

Fishers are to take note of the minimum size limit for whole crawfish is size of 31/4 inches carapace length. The minimum legal size limit on the crawfish tail is 51/2 inches length. All fishers capturing crawfish are required to have a measuring gauge to ensure that they are able to confirm full compliance with the legal size requirements.

Persons desirous of using an air compressor to harvest marine resources must first obtain a permit from the Department of Marine Resources. Applicants muss provide proof of Bahamian citizenship, i.e. a Bahamian passport, along with proof that they have received adequate training in safely diving while using compressed air. The air compressor permit allows the device to be used only between 30) feet to 60 feet and its legal use is to assist in the harvesting of marine resources from August 1 to March 31 inclusive.

Application forms for air compressor permits may be obtain from the website of the Department of Marine Resources at www.bahamas.gov.bs/marine resources, at the office of the Department of Marine Resources, East Bay Street or the extension officers in the Family Islands.

Fishers are reminded of the important role the crawfish industry plays in employing thousands of Bahamians and contributing millions of dollars to the economy of The Bahamas. Compliance to the Fisheries Regulations helps to ensure that these benefits will be available for further generations of Bahamians.

The general public is advised to report all suspected violations to the Department of Marine Resources at telephone 393-1014, 393-1015 or 393-1777. All violators of the Fisheries Regulations can expect to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Bahamas Supreme court closes dolphin tourism attraction

Originally published on E Turbo News

July 26th, 2014

 

The Bahamas Supreme Court’s decision to close the tourist attraction comes after reEarth, a nonprofit community and environmental watch group, obtained documents proving government violations.

The Bahamas judge presiding the case is now questioning if it is legal to import dolphins for reasons other than research—which is a huge decision for the tourist based economy.

Thanks to the hard work from animal activists, specifically the group reEarth in the Bahama’s, the Supreme Court is forcing a dolphinarium that was housing eight captive dolphins to shut down.

The documents show evidence of the prime minister, the minister of agriculture, and the town planning committee, among many others violating the law when giving Blue Illusions Limited (which is headed by Samir Andrawos, a St. Maarten business man) permits to build the dolphin attraction on Blackbeard’s Cay.

The Blue Illusions began building the dolphinarium despite opposition from the Planning and Subdivision act.

The documents also show that the attraction’s eight dolphins were imported from Honduras before attaining the proper permits, which violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Blue Illusions Limited can appeal the Supreme Court’s decision, but for now, there is still plenty to celebrate over this groundbreaking decision.

“I am thrilled,” Sam Duncombe, president of reEarth, told The Nassau Guardian. “We’ve been fighting this issue for 24 years and finally we’ve been able to bring one of the developers with dolphins in captivity to court over the circumvention of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

 

Read original article here

DOLPHINS’ BIG BLOW TO BAHAMAS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS?

Originally published on Globalanimal.org

By: Cara Meyers

July 25th, 2014

 

Thanks to the hard work from animal activists, specifically the group reEarth in the Bahama’s, the Supreme Court is forcing a dolphinarium that was housing eight captive dolphins to shut down.

The Supreme Court’s decision to close the tourist attraction comes after reEarth, a nonprofit community and environmental watch group, obtained documents proving government violations.

The documents show evidence of the prime minister, the minister of agriculture, and the town planning committee, among many others violating the law when giving Blue Illusions Limited (which is headed by Samir Andrawos, a St. Maarten business man) permits to build the dolphin attraction on Blackbeard’s Cay.

The Blue Illusions began building the dolphinarium despite opposition from the Planning and Subdivision act.

The documents also show that the attraction’s eight dolphins were imported from Honduras before attaining the proper permits, which violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The judge presiding the case is now questioning if it is legal to import dolphins for reasons other than research—which is a huge decision for the tourist based economy.

Blue Illusions Limited can appeal the Supreme Court’s decision, but for now, there is still plenty to celebrate over this groundbreaking decision.

“I am thrilled,” Sam Duncombe, president of reEarth, told The Nassau Guardian. “We’ve been fighting this issue for 24 years and finally we’ve been able to bring one of the developers with dolphins in captivity to court over the circumvention of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

— Cara Meyers, exclusive to Global Animal

 

Read original article here

Bahamas Dolphinarium Ordered to Close, Release Dolphins

Originally Published on Ecorazzi

By: Natalia Galbetti

July 23rd, 2014

 

The Bahamas are taking a huge step towards the protection of marine mammals.

A court in the Caribbean island has ordered that an illegal dolphinarium shut down and is questioning whether any dolphins should be allowed into the Bahamas for any purpose beyond research.

‘Blackbeard’s Cay’ is the name of the attraction that would have featured captive dolphins but was ordered to shut its doors before ever opening them. It would have been the fourth of its kind in the country, which profits mainly from tourism.

For the entertainment, its company owner, Blue Illusions Unlimited, secured eight dolphins from Honduras earlier this year but as the court ruled, they were brought into the country illegally.

The investigation was a result of the local activist group reEarth, which gathered 65,000 signatures in favor of freeing the dolphins and accused the country’s prime minister, the minister of agriculture and several others of breaking the law by giving Blue Illusions Unlimited permits. Justice Stephen Isaacs agreed with the group, noting that the whole project was done in secrecy, purposefully not releasing important information to the public. Finally, the dolphins were imported before the permits had been granted, which violated he Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“I am thrilled,” celebrated Sam Duncombe, president of reEarth. “We’ve been fighting this issue for 24 years and finally we’ve been able to bring one of the developers with dolphins in captivity to court over the circumvention of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

In addition to having to release the dolphins from captivity, the court also ruled that the area that is now filled with sea pens be restored to its original state and Justice Isaacs questioned whether there is a need at all for dolphins to be imported into the country for entertainment or any kind of tourist attraction.

The company has the right to appeal the decision within the next few weeks but for now, animals in captivity can celebrate a landmark victory.

Via The Dodo

Read original article here

Bahamas – The dolphinarium will have to close. I am convinced environmentalists after the historic Judgment of the Supreme Court

Originially Published on GeaPress

July 21st, 2014

 

A long legal battle pursued by the reEarth and supported by Whales and Dolphin Conservation.

A big dolphinarium, built directly into the sea, it could short close its doors. The Supreme Court, reports the note of the WDC, he would indeed lifted all import permits and operating licenses of the structure obtained abbaracciando a sea of ​​coral lagoon.

A large system of dolphins in captivity north of Nassau, the capital of the country. The animals, according to environmentalists, would come from Honduras.

Beyond the aspects authorizatory, what have supported NGOs that have dealt with the case also concerns the baseness of the enclosures. In all, to be denuti would be eight dolphins.

Apparently the Sentezza have also discovered the non-regularity of the permits issued by local authorities. But what seems to be even more important, is the challenge put in place by the Judges of the Supreme Court on the legality of importing dolphins. A fact, always alert to the WDC, which could now be of interest to other structures of the aquatic captivity of the country.

For environmentalists this victory is part of the broader struggle to end the detention of cetaceans in captivity.

Read original article here

Letter to the Editor: Nygard carries on as if he owns Govt!

Originally Published in The Punch

July 24th, 2014

 

The seemingly cosy Peter Nygard/Perry Christie relationship cannot be good for The Bahamas.

Expat billionaire Nygard projects the image of controlling the Christie Government – and being a law unto himself.  And Bahamians are left wondering who is really running the government.

The majority of foreign residents are selfless and a great deal of value to the nation in their own quiet and understated ways.  But there are some expats who seek to seize and exploit our resources, brush their feet all over good Bahamian people and then discard us when it suits them to do so.

When the FNM came to office in 1992, the party went to great lengths to clean up our country’s image abroad by reminding all concerned that we were now a place for clean business not dark closeted PLP-style deals.

Under Christie, investors seem to have got a different message than the one Hubert Ingraham sent.  Many PLP leaders seem attracted to rich foreign nationals who seem predisposed to throwing their money around to get their way.  They seem to think they own the government – and the country as well.  That kind of attitude is offensive to most Bahamians.  Sadly, the aforementioned is too often the attitude that Nygard appears to project.  A disturbing feature of the Christie government is their willingness to “kiss up” to rich expats at the expense of the environment and the people.  Christie must take the lead in erasing this unfortunate impression.

 

– Darron Cash, FNM Chairman, Nassau

More Court Action Ahead As Christie Govt Sidesteps Law

Originally published in The Punch

By Nicki Kelly

July 24th, 2014

Between the Lines

Two landmark judgement by the Supreme Court last week represented an important victory for environmentalists.  But more than that, they showed that the Christie administration cannot be trusted to uphold the laws of the land.

Instead, it is prepared to bend the rules to accommodate unscrupulous investors engaged in activities detrimental to the country’s land and marine environment.

So endemic is this disrespect for the law, the government may be faced with yet a third action after a parliamentary factotum provided another investor with a Letter of Intent without the Cabinet’s knowledge or sanction.

The environmental advocacy group Save The Bays (STB), which means to end these back door deals, contends that the “cosy relationship” between politicians and developers has led to a “scourge” of unregulated development that threatens to destroy the country’s natural resources.

In the case of the controversial Nygard Cay development, Save The Bays was granted an injunction restraining the Prime Minister and his Cabinet from making any decisions regarding any applications submitted by Canadian businessman Peter Nyagrd until mid-August.

In addition, both the STB and a group of more than 100 Lyford Cay residents and property owners were given permission to apply for separate judicial reviews to examine: 1) Whether Mr Nygard had the proper permits to build his Mayan-themed resort and 2) Whether the government’s so-called consultation process preliminary to approving the Nygard applications was valid.

To prove that the system of “reciprocal favors” has reached into the highest levels of government, the STB produced a 1992 letter sent by Mr Nygard to then Cabinet Minister Perry Christie emphasising his financial contributions to the PLP.

In exchange he wanted Mr Christie’s help in finalising the re-naming of Simms Point to Nygard Cay, and the granting of a lease for Goulding Cay, a popular fishing spot and bird sanctuary.

he said he would appreciate the government getting both things “done quick” ahead of an upcoming Forbes magazine story and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous TV shoot at his development.

To make sure Mr Christie got the message, he pointed out that: “The whole world is based on one hand helping the other, and you know I am prepared to do whatever is in my capacity to help out the Bahamas and the PLP party and of course yourself.”

An inter-party hearing of the STB injunction is scheduled for August 12.  Meanwhile, the government’s consultation process remains on hold.

In the case of Blackbeard’s Cay, the court found numerous instances in which the government failed to follow the law during the application process by Blue Illusions, the company running the facility.  In addition, Blue Illusions was allowed to create and operate a marine mammal enclosure in contravention of the relevant regulations.

Acting on an action brought up by the environmental group reEarth, which visited the Blackbeard’s site and catalogued a long list of violations, the court ordered the tourist attraction to restore the Crown Land to its former state and to return the eight captive dolphins that were being kept there under “inhumane” conditions.

The 21-page judicial ruling did a number of things including restraining the Town Planning Committee from issuing site plan approvals without public consultation.

It also quashed Prime Minister Christie’s decision, as the Minister responsible for Crown Land, to allow Blue Illusions to carry out construction of the facility on Crown Land without site plan approval, and to operate a captive marine mammal facility without a premises license as required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The judge cited the Prime Minister; Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister V Alfred Gray; Michael Braynen, Director of Fisheries and Marine Resources; the Town Planning Committee and Blue Illusions for violating the rules of law, rushing through conditional approvals, breaching statutory duties and ignoring numerous pleas for information, which the court said “appeared to have fallen on deaf ears.”

In pointing out the significance of the court decisions, Fred Smith, the lead attorney for Save The Bays and reEarth, said they addressed the need to obey the law and the need for public consultation.

“Until our governments do the people’s business in the open with the people’s knowledge and ability to contribute, we will continue to be surprised by developments that ave been planned for us even if we do not want them in our back yard,” he said.

The defendants have six weeks to appeal before the dolphins are moved.

In the third case, which has not yet reached the courts, but may well do so, Renward Wells, the parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works, took it upon himself to Sign a Letter of Intent giving a foreign investor the green light to proceed with plans for building a $675 million waste-to-energy plant.

Works Minister Phillip Davis and Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett have since denied any knowledge of the arrange with Stellar Waste-to-Energy Bahamas, arguing that a LOI required Cabinet approval and a parliamentary secretary was not authorised to sign it.

Stellar’s principal Dr Febrizio Zanaboni has said that as far as he is concerned the signing between his company and the government is valid, and he now intends to move ahead in preparation for building his multi-million dollar plant within the next six months.

This leaves the government with its ass in a sling and facing a potential court action.  Dr Zanaboni has also made clear that his plans for the New Providence landfill cannot co-exist with those of RENEW Bahamas with whom the government does have a signed contract.

Meanwhile in a televised interview with NB12 that was notably incoherent, Works Minister Davis admitted that he and the Prime Minister had met with Mr Wells, but seemingly didn’t bother to ask him why he signed the LOI.  As he told NB12: “I am prepared to meet with Mr Wells again to hear his explanation.”

Muddying the waters still further, he added that it was a question of whether Mr Wells did anything or whether he did nothing that was contrary to established protocols.  “I am going to look into these things and discuss them with him and get his explanation for what he did and test that explanation,” he said.

However, the final word from NB12 was confirmation that Mr Wells had been asked to resign, which he said he is prepared to do while insisting that he had not benefited in any way as a result of signing the LOI.

In Mr Wells defence, he didn’t do anything that the PM hasn’t already done, when as Minister responsible for Lands and Surveys, he usurped the authority of the Director of Physical Planning by signing off on the application by Resorts World Bimini to begin dredging operations in Bimini.

If Mr Wells has to go, so should BEC Chairman Leslie Miller, whose transgressions far outweigh those of Mr Wells.

However, the supreme irony was Mr Davis’ garbled assessment of the Wells-Zanaboni LOI.  “There appears to be a germ out there that business people would look to embrace,” he said.  “They engage in practices that sometimes lend itself and does not promote their own cause and causes challenges in considering their cause.”

The same can be said of the Christie administration.

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