Two major marine environmental voices today joined forces to congratulate the Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation (BREEF) for commissioning and installing an underwater sculpture garden off New Providence’s southwestern shore, calling the work “a stunning example of why it is so important to draw attention to the need to protect and preserve the marine assets of The Bahamas.”
Praise came from the newest local entry in the growing clamour to protect Bahamian waters, Bahamas Waterkeeper, and from the fast-growing environmental movement that has gathered more than 6,000 signatures on a petition (www.savethebays.bs) calling for an environmental protection act, Save The Bays.
“The living art gallery funded by BREEF adds yet another dimension to the amazing underwater environment of the waters off Clifton, home to stunning coral reefs and one of the most popular and frequently filmed dive sites throughout the Caribbean region,” said attorney and environmental consultant Romi Ferreira, a Save The Bays director and member of its legal team.
“But because of the contrast of the beauty and what is happening not that far away with ongoing oil pollution along the shores of Clifton Bay, we need to look at this as the tipping point and act on it now, not tomorrow, now.”
BREEF created the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden as “a one-of-a-kind snorkeling and scuba diving experience for Bahamians and visitors that serves as a multi-purpose hub for the marine environment.”
The underwater garden is intended to be “a perfect fusion of art, education and marine conservation, provide a habitat for fish, corals and other marine organisms, create an exceptional outdoor classroom for environmental education and keep divers and snorkelers away from threatened reefs, giving those reefs a chance to rejuvenate naturally.”
BREEF is a community partner of Save The Bays, the organization that has hit a chord with those concerned that unregulated development and oil pollution are threatening marine life, including fragile organisms that make up coral reefs that sustain conch, crawfish and fish populations.
“This could be the tipping point because government can no longer ignore what is happening in the waters off Clifton,” said Ferreira, an authority whose expertise was recognized when he was selected by CARICOM to help develop a legal framework for the energy sector in eight countries in the Caribbean.
“In the last weeks with divers sending selfies around the world of themselves and their dive gear covered with oil from diving in an area that is supposed to be one of the world’s finest dive destinations, The Bahamas’ image stands to be tarnished and action must be taken. At the same time, we have this beautiful new sea garden drawing more attention to the area nearby and we just hope it will help sensitize everyone to the need to protect our waters and to stand up and say we will no longer tolerate abuse of the environment,” said Ferreira.
Save The Bays has been a clarion voice in a growing cry for strong environmental protection legislation and since its founding 18 months ago, has found its message resonating with a wide audience. Its Facebook page has more than 17,100 Likes and its petition calls for an end to unregulated development, transparent government and other legislation to protect the environment.