Archive | February, 2015

Guana Cay reefs suffering extensive damage

Smith and Albury examine the reefs around Guana Cay, where algae growth caused by runoff from the Baker’s Bay golf course is overwhelming and killing the coral.

Smith and Albury examine the reefs around Guana Cay, where algae growth caused by runoff from the Baker’s Bay golf course is overwhelming and killing the coral.

Environmentalists’ warnings proven right; runoff from Baker’s Bay golf course leading to destruction of coral system

The once pristine reef system surrounding the tiny island of Guana Cay in the Abacos has suffered extensive damage since construction of the controversial Baker’s Bay development, environmentalists say.

The Save Guana Cay Reef Association (SGCRA), which mounted a groundbreaking five-year legal campaign in opposition to the project, warned of serious implications for the reef – recognized as one of the best dive sites in the world – as well as for the rest of the previously unspoiled island. It is now clear that their predictions have come true.

“There has been environmental desecration out here,” said leading environmental advocate Fred Smith, QC. “They burned the entire forest, they tore down the mangroves, they dug it all up.

“They’ve got a golf course, and the chemicals are seeping into the reefs that are there. It is environmental rape and pillage.”

Smith, chairman of fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays, fought alongside the SCGRA between 2004 and 2009 for the rights of Guana Cay residents. During a recent visit to the island, he dove the reefs along with association president Troy Albury to witness firsthand the extent of the damage.

Albury explained that nutrients applied to maintain the health of the golf course drain into the surrounding water and lead to accelerated algae growth.

“We know the nitrogen is running off the course,” he said. “We know that from algae samples we’ve taken right close into the shore and algae samples we’ve taken at the reef. We have lost 40 percent of the coral cover in the last two years.

“Algae is always in competition for turf area on the reef. When you have algae growing, coral cannot grow and even when there is coral growing and existing, the algae gets close to it and starts to destroy it.”

The situation is dire, Smith said, but not yet past the point of no return.

“This used to be one of the most beautiful dive spots in the world, and it still has the potential to be if they would stop destroying it with all the chemicals,” he said.

Smith added that Guana Cay is a perfect example of the destructive power of the “Anchor Project” theory of national development, which ruins traditional communities – often without living up to the many promises made by the developers and the local politicians who facilitate the deals.

Albury said the once idyllic community has been severely affected by the location of a large-scale resort on the island, undertaken without proper consultation with the locals.

“We have traffic now, we have crime, we have car accidents. We actually now have a policeman on the island, because we are having problems with people breaking into houses. Before, you knew everybody,” he said.

Albury said it is important for all traditional Bahamian communities to fight for their rights, as they have the most to lose. If the environment ends up being ruined by an anchor project, the wealthy developer can simply “pick up and start again someplace else”.

The SGCRA president said the community has been waiting “for a long time” for Baker’s Bay to fulfill its obligations under the heads of agreement that allowed the project to go forward.

These included building a community center, reserving the water sports business exclusively for Bahamians, creating a beach park, building a solid waste facility for the whole island, and providing housing for police officers.

“In addition to that, there were also promises of environmental monitoring, and none of that ever came into play,” he said.

A newly released video of Smith’s visit to Guana Cay is part of an ongoing series of short films covering key aspects of STB’s fight for a better Bahamas. It can be viewed on Save The Bays website, www.savethebays.bs, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaveTheBays, or on the organization’s YouTube channel (http://bit.ly/1z3kupy) Please leave comments and share it with friends.

Founded just over a year ago, Save The Bays has taken The Bahamas by storm. The grassroots effort to protect ecologically significant areas of the archipelago from unregulated development has transformed into a broad-based coalition that is at the forefront of both social and environmental issues. The group is calling for comprehensive environmental protections, oil spill legislation, greater transparency in government and much needed ‘conchservation’ laws.

With more than 17,200 followers on Facebook, STB is the fastest growing, most popular non-profit, non-government organization in Bahamas history on social media.

The group’s petition calling on the government to enact an Environmental Protection Act, a Freedom of Information Act, to stop unregulated development and to take a stance against oil pollution, is also climbing in numbers, with 6,384 signatures so far. To get involved, sign the petition or learn more, visit www.savethebays.bs.

KB to Headline ‘Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay,’ February 28

KB Headlining – Five entertainers, including headliner Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie,  are combining forces and voices to raise funds for and awareness of the environment during a concert February 28 at Grand Bahama’s Flying Fish Restaurant on the waterfront starting at 4 pm.

KB Headlining – Five entertainers, including headliner Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie, are combining forces and voices to raise funds for and awareness of the environment during a concert February 28 at Grand Bahama’s Flying Fish Restaurant on the waterfront starting at 4 pm.

When Save The Bays hosts its first Grand Bahama fun-raiser, Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay, February 28, it will link five performers who have never before performed together but are united over a cause that each is passionate about – protecting the waters of The Bahamas.

Headlining the concert set for 4 pm on the waterfront at Flying Fish Seafood Restaurant is the top-selling musician Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie.

“KB rose to fame with songs like ‘Bush Mechanic’ and ‘She Fat’ but in recent years he has lent his talent to social causes, penning numbers that point to political will, transparency and accountability,” said Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy. “One of his latest songs, ‘Hold dey feet to da fire’ is among the country’s biggest hits.

Derek Gape is one of five performers joining forces to raise funds and awareness for the environment during a concert starting at 4 pm on Sunday, February 28 at Flying Fish Restaurant, Grand Bahama. It is the first time that island has been the venue of a major ‘fun-raising’ event for Save The Bays, though its Grand Bahama education arm is so popular that twice the number of the students showed up to register this year as were able to be accommodated in the Youth Environmental Ambassadors program.

Derek Gape is one of five performers joining forces to raise funds and awareness for the environment during a concert starting at 4 pm on Sunday, February 28 at Flying Fish Restaurant, Grand Bahama. It is the first time that island has been the venue of a major ‘fun-raising’ event for Save The Bays, though its Grand Bahama education arm is so popular that twice the number of the students showed up to register this year as were able to be accommodated in the Youth Environmental Ambassadors program.

“It is encouraging to see artists like the legendary KB (Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie) share a stage with the talents of a jazzy Marina Gottlieb Sarles who is performing with master guitarist Steve Persaud in Bossa. We also have Tim Tibbitts who is one of those multi-talented individuals who can whip up a restaurant meal with the same pizzazz as he can stir a crowd’s enthusiasm. Tim, who is Bahamian, had a successful run in Canada and we’re just grateful he came back home and cares so much about the environment.

“And we have one of Grand Bahama’s local favourites, Derek Gape, who can take a simple tune and a guitar and turn it into a performance that rouses an audience and makes everyone in the crowd happy to be there.”

Tim Tibbitts is lending his voice and his premises for the cause, raising awareness of the importance of environmental protection when he joins other musical artists for the Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay concert at Flying Fish Restaurant in Grand Bahama February 28.

Tim Tibbitts is lending his voice and his premises for the cause, raising awareness of the importance of environmental protection when he joins other musical artists for the Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay concert at Flying Fish Restaurant in Grand Bahama February 28.

According to McCoy, ticket sales for the Save The Bays concert on the waterfront have been brisk and the event could very well be a sell-out, a result, she says, of the “great combination of cause and artists.”

For Gottlieb Sarles’, passion about environmental protection – and particularly the “turquoise seas so full of nature’s bounty” — comes naturally. Her mother, Dr. Owanta Gottlieb is credited with starting the Save the Abaco Parrot movement and calling attention to the plight of the vanishing wild horses of Abaco believed to be descendants of the horses brought over by Christopher Columbus more than 500 years earlier.

“Every Bahamian should be aware how important preserving and protecting our marine environment and our vast marine resources is,” said Fred Smith, QC, Save The Bays Chairman. “It’s the beauty of our waters that makes The Bahamas the amazing place it is.”

Marina Sarles

Marina Gottlieb Sarles will be among the performers at the Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay concert to raise funds for Save The Bays February 28 at Flying Fish Restaurant on Grand Bahama. (Photo Courtesy Christine Matthäi)

 

At the same time, Save The Bays has a need, he says, to raise funds to keep up the campaign, enhancing educational efforts and legal cases holding environmental best practices violators accountable. Since its founding less than two years ago, the fast-growing Save The Bays organization has grown into a full-blown movement with the largest number of social media followers in Bahamian history. More than 17,200 persons Like Save The Bays on Facebook and nearly 6,000 have signed a petition calling for a freedom of information act, an environmental protection act and an end to unregulated development among other tenets.

Tickets for the event are $75 and are available at Flying Fish Restaurant or Barefoot Marketing. Free parking is available for ticket holders at the Lighthouse section of the Grand Lucayan, courtesy of the hotel.

To connect with Save The Bays or sign the petition online, go to www.savethebays.bs.

 

Call for results of hate speech probe

Xenophobic messages and Ku Klux Klan symbolism on display at this year’s Junkanoo parade, the centerpiece of Bahamian cultural life

Xenophobic messages and Ku Klux Klan symbolism on display at this year’s
Junkanoo parade, the centerpiece of Bahamian cultural life

Junkanoo Commission urged to release findings of investigation into hostile and intimidating demonstration at the New Year’s Day parade

Save The Bays chairman Fred Smith, QC, has urged the Junkanoo Commission of New Providence to release the results of its promised investigation into the hateful and intimidating display that was allowed to poison this year’s New Year’s Day parade.

Smith noted that more than a month has gone by, yet no updates on the probe have been forthcoming. He urged the commission and the government as a whole to take the matter very seriously, as it signals of the rise of a dangerous tendency within the national public dialogue.

“While we applaud the commission for launching an investigation, we hope they were not merely paying lip-service to protecting members of the public from threatening and intimidating behavior at what is supposed to be a traditional family event, the centerpiece of our national cultural life,” Smith said.

“STB asked officials to get to the bottom of the hostile and xenophobic display, discover who was behind it, and we would like to know the result of those inquiries immediately.”

Commission chairman Silbert Ferguson pledged that he would investigate the appearance of an anonymous group donning masks similar to those worn by Klu Klux Klan, saying he had no idea how they had appeared on Bay Street. He said his team would review tapes of the parade and form a plan to prevent such incidents in the future.

The unauthorized demonstration targeted Smith personally, as well as renowned international businessman and conservationist Louis Bacon. Banners read: “Bacon is KKK” beneath an image of a burning cross, “Join the coalition to banish Bacon”, “Fred Smith, Haitian infidel”, and “Is Fred Smith a Bahamian or an illegal Haitian?”

It was but the latest in a series of malicious attacks on peaceful and law-abiding individuals. On December 5, a similar protest featuring identical banners and costumes, attempted to hijack an event in support of the passage of a Freedom of Information Act, organized by STB.

Controversial fashion designer Peter Nygard went on the record to deny he organized this December protest. He has yet to make any comment on the unseemly New Year’s Day display or on a “pro-Nygard” march held in July of last year, in which hostile messages against STB directors and associates were also on display.

On that day, targets included Joseph Darville, a universally respected veteran educator, who served as principal of a Catholic High School in Grand Bahama for 20 years. Newly appointed STB director Diane Phillips was also singled out by the group of aggressive male protesters.

A self-styled “Pro-Nygard” march through Downtown Nassau in July 2014 attacked Mr. Bacon, Fred Smith and Rev. Dr. CB Moss, an esteemed and influential member of the local clergy, as well as a former Senator

“STB believes that if not dealt with promptly and decisively, this ominous new tendency could threaten this country’s efforts to chart a course towards a more decent and tolerant future,” Smith said.

“These repeated attempts to demonize and strike fear into the hearts of individuals – and particularly those advocating for greater individual rights, government transparency and respect for the rule of law – points to a desire to silence free speech, incite hatred and bring an end to socially constructive community activism in The Bahamas.”

Founded just over a year ago, Save The Bays began as a grassroots effort to protect ecologically significant areas of The Bahamas from unregulated development. It has quickly grown into a broad-based coalition calling for comprehensive environmental protections, oil spill legislation and greater transparency in government.

With more than 17,200 followers on Facebook, STB is the fastest growing, most popular non-profit, non-government organization in Bahamas history on social media. The group’s petition calling on the government to enact an Environmental Protection Act, a Freedom of Information Act, stop unregulated development and end to oil pollution is climbing in numbers, with around 6,400 signatures so far. To get involved, sign the petition or learn more, visit www.savethebays.bs.

Save The Bays to Host ‘Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay’ February 28

chillin on the dock of the bay

Headliners include an All-Bahamian Power Packed Crew — KB, Tim Tibbitts, Derek Gape, Marina Gottlieb Sarles & Steve Persaud

 

Popular environmental advocacy group Save The Bays is putting music where its heart is – in a ‘Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay’ concert featuring top Bahamian performer Kirkland ‘KB” Bodie and others.

The event, set for Saturday, February 28, at 4 pm will be held at the Flying Fish Restaurant in Grand Bahama, rated the island’s number one eatery and home of Chef Tim Tibbitts, a Bahamian who returned to his roots after a successful performing career in Canada and is now ranked as one of the Caribbean’s 25 best chefs.

“We wanted to host a fund-raiser in Grand Bahama where Save The Bays’ impact, particularly in the education arena and among young Bahamians, has been so great,” said Save The Bays director Joseph Darville. “We did not want to do anything too formal or fancy, just something that represented what we are all about – preserving the waters for all of us to appreciate and for future generations to enjoy so what better place than on the waterfront. Since Tibbitts hosts a weekly acoustical evening on Sunday nights in this relaxing atmosphere under the stars on one of Grand Bahama’s beautiful bays, it just seemed a natural.”

Once the idea of ‘Chillin’ by the Dock of the Bay’ was born, he said, it caught on, with one musician after another signing on to donate all proceeds to the cause that is fighting on several fronts for environmental protection and careful stewardship.

Headlining artist and the country’s leading musician in sales, KB, a director of Save The Bays, said the concert was a “perfect opportunity to mix the message with the medium to deliver it.

“As I get older, I realize how important it is for my music to mean something and this cause of protecting the environment of my Bahamas is so close to my heart,” said the songwriter and singer who made his name with songs like ‘Bush Mechanic’ before he took on the philosopher musician persona. Today, said Darville, you are “more likely to hear KB on radio talking than you are to hear him singing because he has reached a stature in the Bahamas of being a national treasure so we are very honoured that he will be taking part in this concert and that of all the causes he cares about, Save The Bays occupies such a high priority.”

Other performers include recording artist Tim Tibbitts, well-known local singer Derek Gape, respected author and singer Marina Gottlieb Sarles and master guitarist Steve Persaud. The Tibbitts, owners of the Flying Fish, are donating the premises and catering for the show.

“We are very grateful to Flying Fish for coming on board and making this a true fund-raiser with easygoing Bahamian music, chillin’ —  no loud speakers or heavy metal, just vocals and guitars, possibly a keyboard, a touch of the past as we preserve our resources for the future,” said Darville.

Tickets are $75 and will be limited to 150 persons. The price includes two drinks and light appetizers. Concert starts at 4 pmand is expected to last past 7 pm. Tickets are available at Barefoot Marketing and at Flying Fish Restaurant.

The restaurant will be open for diners following the event.

Funds raised will help defray legal and operational costs of the organization that has filed several legal actions to hold environmental protection violators accountable and force remediation of damage caused by oil pollution or unregulated development.

Launched less than two years ago, Save The Bays has grown from a fledgling newcomer to the fastest growing NGO in the environmental movement with more than 17,200 Likes on its active Facebook pages. Its petition calling for an environmental protection act and a freedom of information act is nearing 7,000 signatures and its support from internationally respected scientists and environmentalists has won headlines in several countries.

International experts lament Nygard Cay “tragedy”

Jan-30-2105-Nygard-Cay-2

Respected conservationists say the government should never have allowed controversial development to damage the marine environment with impunity

International conservation experts branded the controversial development known as Nygard Cay a “tragedy” for The Bahamian people, and criticized the government for giving preferential treatment to a wealthy foreign investor over the country’s own citizens.

The experts, hosted on a tour of the area by fast-growing social and environmental advocacy group Save The Bays (STB), said allowing Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygard to extend his imposing Mayan-themed project onto publicly-owned land without the necessary permits and in a manner that has caused significant environmental damage, calls into question the state of democracy in The Bahamas today.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like Nygard cay before,” said Rachael Silverstein, the Waterkeeper for Biscayne Bay, Florida. It is really a tragedy how much beautiful marine area and land that belongs to the people has been appropriated by a single individual, and for such an egregious use.”

Ariel of Nygard Cay after December 2014 Drtedging adding Beach januray 2015

 

The property, formerly known as Simm’s Point, has doubled in size since purchased by Nygard in the early 1980s through accretion of Crown land from the seabed in the absence of official permission. The construction of groynes and jetties has also blocked the vital flow of sand into Clifton Bay, an area of vital ecological importance. This, in turn, has contributed to the severe erosion of Jaws Beach, one of the last beaches open to the public on New Providence.

 

Like Silverstein, several of the visitors are senior members of the global Waterkeeper Alliance, a leading NGO that coordinates more than 200 stewards of the marine environment, or Waterkeepers, who are assigned to rivers, bays, lakes and coastal areas around the world.

 

Alex Matthiessen, former Hudson Bay Waterkeeper and Presidential Award winner, now CEO of the Blue Marble Project, said: “To me what is really disturbing about Nygard Cay is the precedent it sets for The Bahamas. The government is basically playing favorites. There are lots of Bahamians who would maybe like to develop their waterfront, get permission to develop Crown lands, but nine times out of 10 they get denied the right to do that.

 

“Here you’ve got a very wealthy foreign investor being allowed to basically destroy Bahamian habitat for his own selfish purposes. What is going on at Nygard Cay is really about the state of democracy in The Bahamas.”

Ariel of Nygard Cay showing Cay after December 2014 Drdging and  how PN has blocked Sand flowing to Neigbours in Clifton Bay January 29015

 

Gabrielle Parent-Doliner, swim guides affiliate at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, said The Bahamas has garnered a great deal of negative attention in her country thanks to the controversy at Nygard Cay.

 

“As a Canadian, I have heard a lot about Nygard – this situation has been covered in every media outlet in Canada,” she said. “Canadians have a reputation of being these environmental stewards, so this is a bit shocking.”

 

The issue has also caught the attention of the US press, with the New York Post reporting last week (http://bit.ly/1JHIzZd) that Nygard could face prison for contempt of court after continuing to dredge the sea floor despite several court injunctions, granted to lawyers acting for STB, which barred all further work on the property.

 

The matter is but one in a series of legal troubles facing the embattled designer. UK and US media are also reporting that neighbor Louis Bacon has filed a $50 million lawsuit against Nygard for defamation (http://dailym.ai/1wwa80i) in connection with unsubstantiated allegations of arson, racism, drug trafficking and even murder.

A100509_031813 Model (1)

A newly released video on the conservationists’ visit to Nygard Cay is part of an ongoing series of short films covering key aspects of STB’s fight for a better Bahamas. It can be viewed on Save The Bays website, www.savethebays.bs, on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/SaveTheBays, or on the organization’s YouTube channelhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih55gjHvEp8. Please leave comments and share it with friends.

 

Founded just over a year ago, Save The Bays has taken The Bahamas by storm. The grassroots effort to protect ecologically significant areas of the archipelago from unregulated development has transformed into a broad-based coalition that is at the forefront of both social and environmental issues. The group is calling for comprehensive environmental protections, oil spill legislation, greater transparency in government and much needed ‘conchservation’ laws.

With more than 17,200 followers on Facebook, STB is the fastest growing, most popular non-profit, non-government organization in Bahamas history on social media.

The group’s petition calling on the government to enact an Environmental Protection Act, a Freedom of Information Act, to stop unregulated development and to take a stance against oil pollution, is also climbing in numbers, with 6,384 signatures so far. To get involved, sign the petition or learn more, visit www.savethebays.bs.

Skip to toolbar