Archive | June, 2015

Environmentalist warns of a third possible Rubis leak

In the foreground are what appear to be recently drilled test wells. If the station is indeed the site of a fuel spill, it will be the third Rubis facility suspected of hydrocarbon pollution in New Providence.

In the foreground are what appear to be recently drilled test wells. If the station is indeed the site of a fuel spill, it will be the third Rubis facility suspected of hydrocarbon pollution in New Providence.

Ferreira says test wells and fuel recovery tanks observed at Porky’s Service Station on East Street South site mirror the cleanup operation in Marathon

 

 

A leading environmentalist has called for a full investigation into a third suspected fuel leak from a Rubis station in New Providence.

 

Ecologist & Attorney Romi Ferreira, a director of fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays (STB), said highly toxic and environmentally destructive substances may have leaked, or may be continuing to leak into the ground at Porky’s Service Station on East Street South.

 

“What seem to be test wells, some perhaps recently drilled, along with mobile recovery tanks can be observed at the station,” Ferreira said. “It would seem they are attempting to recover whatever spill material is in the ground – whatever hydrocarbon it is, either gas or diesel – as part of an ongoing exercise.

Fuel recovery tanks at Porky’s, just like those in operation near the Robinson Road Station.

Fuel recovery tanks at Porky’s, just like those in operation near the Robinson Road Station.

“This is precisely the same methodology that Rubis used at Marathon, they installed similar types of test wells and a recovery system utilizing the same types of tanks.  In fact the tanks can be observed as a part of the soil vapor extraction system Rubis currently has running in Marathon, on the property of a resident who lives at ground zero of that disastrous spill of 24,000 gallons of gas.”

 

In the Marathon case, public awareness was raised about the grave health and environmental dangers associated with the leak, but only two years after residents were exposed to harmful, cancer causing chemicals.

 

Ferreira said the recently revealed Sandyport case, and now this East Street South example, force Bahamians to ask how many other leaks have managed to elude public scrutiny.

 

“How many families are being slowly poisoned without their knowledge, while fuel companies and the government maintain their silence?” he asked.

 

“Not only do these leaks point to a culture of poor environmental stewardship, they also speak to a fundamental lack of transparency and accountability on the part of both the company or companies involved, and our elected leaders.”

 

Ferreira said it appears that Rubis and the government learned nothing from the Marathon case, and insisted Bahamians have a right to know when their health is being placed at risk.

 

“Fuel companies and the Ministry of Environment have a duty to make residents and businesses aware of what they know, as soon as they know it.

Test Wells

Test Wells

“This is what happens in other jurisdictions around the world. Why are Bahamian lives considered less important? When will our government officials take environmental pollution seriously and move to protect us from its serious consequences?

 

“As with the Sandyport case – which itself only recently came to light through the efforts of concerned residents and businesses – STB calls for a full and open investigation of the situation at East Street South. What’s more, the people whose lives and livelihoods may be affected by this third possible leak should be informed of what the company and the government know immediately.

 

“Further, we call for increased attention to be placed to the physical state and integrity of all facilities and infrastructure that stores or transports fuels and other volatile hydrocarbon substances throughout the country.

 

 

“The time for playing hide-and-seek is over, government officials and fuel companies must come clean about any possible dangers to the public health and the integrity of our environment. They cannot be allowed to play with people’s lives.”

Court Battle to ensure proper permits still on-going!

Fashion designer Peter Nygard leaving court, flanked by a member of his entourage.

Fashion designer Peter Nygard leaving court, flanked by a member of his entourage.

Judge insists that controversial fashion designer attend hearings and submit to cross-examination in a case that could result in his imprisonment

 

Despite the best efforts of his lawyers, controversial Canadian fashion designer Peter Nygard was yesterday compelled to appear before a Bahamas Supreme Court judge to defend against an application for his committal to prison for contempt of court.

 

In a tense appearance which Nygard’s legal team had struggled to avoid – and in which the designer had to be reminded several times to address the court respectfully, raising eyebrows by referring to the proceedings as “the biggest waste of my time ever” – he was ordered to reappear on September 28 for cross-examination.

 

For more than three years, Nygard has been embroiled in a bitter fight with local environmentalists who claim his ostentatious, Mayan-themed development on New Providence Island was built without the proper permits and has caused serious damage to the surrounding marine environment. It is also alleged that he more than doubled the size of the property by illegally reclaiming public land from the seabed.

 

Nygard is accused of being in contempt of court for flouting a court order to cease all dredging of the sea floor in nearby Clifton Bay, an ecologically important area that is also home to one of the last public access beaches on the island.

 

When the hearing began on Thursday, Nygard’s absence was noted by both Justice Rhonda Bain and Fred Smith, QC, lead attorney for the Coalition to Save Clifton, the environmental group that filed the contempt motion. Nygard’s attorney Elliot Lockhart, QC argued that there was no requirement for his client to attend, as the legal team had been authorized to represent his interests.

 

However, Smith said, considering the fact Nygard is currently on his fifth legal team since the matter began in 2013, the designer should appear in court to confirm this assertion.

 

Justice Bain ordered Nygard to be present Friday and the designer arrived on time, surrounded by a small entourage. His lawyer promptly asked that the court allow the designer to leave after authorizing Lockhart to speak for him.

 

Nygard was called upon to speak, and explained that he was very busy, had a number of upcoming business commitments and travel plans, and that the hearings were a waste of his time. He asserted that he did not want to be present and asked to be released.

 

The request was denied, and the designer was ordered to remain for the day’s proceedings and return on September 28 to be cross-examined on his affidavit filed in opposition to the coalition’s case.

 

It is alleged that Nygard periodically dredged the seabed in December 2014, in violation of a June 2013 injunction. The coalition has produced evidence, in the form of photographs and witness statements, purporting to show that substantial amounts of sand were dredged from Clifton Bay and pumped onto Nygard Cay’s private beach after the injunction was in place.

 

Nygard is known to have close ties to the governing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the coalition has pointed out that the government had purported to grant him a valid permit for what was termed “maintenance” dredging – even after the court’s injunction was in place. It was also asserted that by spreading the dredged sand onto his beach, he had even breached the terms of the government permit itself.

 

During the tenure of the former Free National Movement government, a series of official orders were issued requiring Nygard to dismantle parts of his development. These were ignored, while the designer threw renewed support behind the PLP, which won power again in 2012 – prompting claims that Nygard had taken “The Bahamas back”.

 

Opposition politicians, environmentalists and civil rights advocates have expressed concern that Nygard’s close relationship with the PLP is posing a threat to the rule of law and the administration of justice in The Bahamas.

 

Call for independent probe into new Rubis leak claims

Neighbors say the Sandyport station has been leaking fuel for weeks, leading to the closure of several businesses last week due to overpowering fumes.

Neighbors say the Sandyport station has been leaking fuel for weeks, leading to the closure of several businesses last week due to overpowering fumes.

Save The Bays: company should not be allowed to investigate itself; government and Rubis display lack of transparency yet again, despite lessons of Marathon fuel spill disaster

 

 

Lamenting the fact that the public had to learn of a second possible fuel leak from a Rubis service station in New Providence via social media, Vanessa Haley-Benjamin called for a fully independent investigation into the complaints of nearby residents and businesses.

 

Haley-Benjamin, CEO of fast-growing environmental advocacy group Save The Bays (STB) applauded the news that Environmental Remediation and Response Laboratory (EMRAD) is now investigating, but questioned why the government remained tight-lipped until the matter was raised in a Facebook post.

 

“One would have thought, following the failure on the part of both the government and Rubis to show transparency and adopt best practices with regard to the now notorious Marathon fuel spill, that alerting the public to another possible leak would have been their first move,” Haley-Benjamin said. “Yet it is our understanding the government officials have known about this situation for weeks.

 

“Perhaps even more concerning is a statement in the press by an unnamed Rubis executive, to the effect that the company has been looking into the Sandyport situation ‘for some time now’. Exactly how long have they known about this possible leak? Did they communicate the complaints to the government immediately and if so, why is the public only just learning of the matter?”

 

Haley-Benjamin said it appears that both the government and the company have failed to learn lessons from the December 2012 Marathon incident, in which around 24,000 gallons of gasoline leaked into the ground from a Rubis service station on Robinson Road, contaminating the water supply to nearby homes and rendering neighboring offices uninhabitable.

 

Those affected were kept in the dark for more than two years, despite serious potential consequences for their health and safety through exposure to an extremely hazardous cocktail of chemical compounds. Both the government and Rubis kept their silence until forced to speak when opposition chairman Michael Pintard raised the matter in the Senate.

 

“The government apologized and promised to be more transparent going forward. Yet here we are just a few months later, facing reports of another possible fuel spill, and again outside pressure was needed to bring the matter to light,” Haley-Benjamin said.

 

“More generally speaking, considering the serious and ongoing environmental damage caused by petrochemical pollution throughout New Providence and around The Bahamas, it was hoped that our political leaders would consider every potential case to be high priority.

 

“A critical part of doing so would be ensuring that investigations into possible spills, leaks and other polluting incidents are conducted by credible independent bodies. In this regard, we find it alarming that Rubis is being allowed to conduct its own probe into the Sandyport complaints, EMRAD’s separate review notwithstanding.

 

“In other jurisdictions around the world, experienced scientists and industry experts with a reputation for thoroughness and objectivity are contracted to conduct such investigations. It is lamentable that in this area, as in so many others pertaining to environmental protection, The Bahamas continues to lag far behind. This case is yet another pointed example of why the country desperately needs a robust Freedom of Information Act to be passed immediately.”

‘Save Our Summer’ launch deemed a big success

RAISING AWARENESS - Save The Bays CEO Vanessa Haley-Benjamin (second from left) talks to attendees about the need to preserve the environment for future generations.

RAISING AWARENESS – Save The Bays CEO Vanessa Haley-Benjamin (second from left) talks to attendees about the need to preserve the environment for future generations.

Save The Bays CEO hails partnership with Green Parrot, says event was only the first in a series of summer initiatives to raise funds and promote environmental awareness

 

Save The Bays (STB) is calling its inaugural ‘Save Our Summer’ event a big success, with turnout exceeding expectations and much-needed funds raised to support the fast-growing environmental group’s diverse range of programs and initiatives.

 

CEO Vanessa Haley-Benjamin said more than 100 attendees learned about STB’s efforts to protect the environment from threats such as oil pollution and unregulated development, through a unique approach that combines public advocacy, education and – when necessary – court action.

 

“We raised awareness about the environment, forged new relationships, and saw a considerable boost in the number of signatures on our petition calling for an Environmental Protection Act and a Freedom of Information Act. All in all, the day was a big success,” Haley-Benjamin said.

 

None of it would have been possible without the help of STB partners such as Sands Beer and John Watlings Distillery, she said, reserving special thanks to the Green Parrot Bar and Grill, which hosted the event.

 

“Green Parrot provided us with the platform to share what we have been doing and what we have planned,” she said. “STB considers such partnerships invaluable and looks to forge even more with the wider community to build awareness.”

Save our Summer

The fun-filled event had something for everyone, with the face-painting booth proving a particular hit among the children. Haley-Benjamin said family engagement was a priority, as a key focus of Save The Bays is engaging the next generation of Bahamians in the effort to preserve the environment.

 

Attendees both young and old rocked to the live entertainment provided by Green Parrot favorites the Long Island Connection, as well as Bahamian superstar and STB director Kirkland “KB” Bodie.

 

STB education director Joseph Darville said the funds raised will support ongoing programs such as the Youth Environmental Ambassadors, a conservation and leadership program for students. Another beneficiary will be Waterkeepers Bahamas, a groundbreaking effort to monitor water quality and safety around the country, in collaboration with the global Waterkeeper Alliance.

 

“More than 200 Waterkeepers are working daily to ensure that there are swimmable, drinkable, fishable waterways worldwide. Thanks to STB, The Bahamas is now part of that network, but this effort will require continued funding going forward,” Darville said.

 

Some of the funding will also go towards new initiatives, in particular an Oil Pollution Prevention Campaign that STB expects to launch in the coming months, according to STB’s CEO.

 

“Few challenges to our natural resources, and therefore our way of life, are as grave as the threat posed by oil pollution. Existing spills have already caused untold damage to marine ecosystems and groundwater reserves,” Haley-Benjamin said.

 

“With the prospect of offshore oil exploration now looming large, our organization feels Bahamians must do all they can to ensure that the proper safeguards, regulations and remediation protocols are in place.”

 

She added that the event was just the first in a series of awareness raising efforts, the next being a beach cleanup in partnership with RBC, Bahamas Waste and Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas.

 

“Corporate and community partnerships are the way forward for environmental organizations such as STB, which is seeking to engage the entire nation in the effort to preserve our natural heritage for the benefit of future generations,” Haley-Benjamin said.

 

“While collaboration can be a mechanism to raise funds, even more importantly, new relationships can increase access to knowledge resources and improve the effectiveness and relevance of our programs.”

 

“That is why we encourage all Bahamians who are concerned about protecting the environment to get involved. Follow us on Facebook, sign our petition and volunteer or become an official partner of Save The Bays.”

Gov’t urged to deal swiftly with Clifton oil pollution

Oil regularly escapes these barriers, installed to contain pollution emanating from one or more entities located at Clifton industrial park. Studies conducted in 2011 show more than 40% decline in live reef cover as some nearby sites.

Oil regularly escapes these barriers, installed to contain pollution emanating from one or more entities located at Clifton industrial park. Studies conducted in 2011 show more than 40% decline in live reef cover as some nearby sites.

Haley-Benjamin says nearly six months after official remediation efforts were announced, the marine environment remains under serious threat

 

 

Nearly six months after the government announced it would spend $10 million on oil spill remediation efforts, petrochemical pollution remains a serious threat to the sensitive marine environment throughout The Bahamas, but particularly at Clifton Bay, environmentalists say.

 

Vanessa Haley-Benjamin, CEO of fast-growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays (STB), said recent complaints from divers visiting the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Gardens, who emerged from the water covered in oil, prove that whatever actions have been taken to date have been far from sufficient.

 

“We appreciate the government’s recognition that oil pollution in Clifton Bay is an issue that needs attention,” she said. “Unfortunately, whatever has been done so far has failed to produce timely results.

 

“Details of the remediation plan were not released to the public, so it is difficult to understand why, considering the reported financial commitment, a tangible solution has yet to be found.”

 

Divers frequently emerge from Clifton Bay covered in oil

Divers frequently emerge from Clifton Bay covered in oil

The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is responsible for the sculpture garden, and executive director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert warned of the devastating impact this pollution is having on living coral reefs, fish and other marine organisms in the area.

 

Haley-Benjamin said: “We wholeheartedly support and second BREEF’s call for increased protection of the reef systems around western New Providence, which are critically important resources, ecologically and commercially speaking, and which have been under severe stress from industrial pollution for years.”

 

The area is vital to the local dive tourism sector, she said, as well as for recreational and commercial fishermen, with the sculpture garden in particular attracting interest from avid divers around the world.

 

Designed as a fusion of art, education, and marine conservation, the garden was created to provide a habitat for fish, corals and other marine organisms, divert snorkelers and divers away from natural reefs and thus providing space for restoration, and serve as an outdoor classroom for environmental education and citizen science.

 

“Quite aside from the dire environmental consequences, the ongoing pollution is threatening tourism revenue and doing untold damage to the country’s reputation abroad,” Haley-Benjamin said. “STB is calling on the government to make this issue a priority and give it the attention it deserves.”

 

According to Dr. Craig Dahlgren, a marine biologist and senior research scientist who studied coral reef ecology in The Bahamas and wider Caribbean for more than 20 years, pollution has already had a devastating effect on Clifton Bay.

 

“In surveys of coral reefs around New Providence conducted in 2011, sites near Clifton were among the lowest in terms of live coral cover, and had seen some of the greatest declines in live coral from previous surveys of reefs off southwest New Providence conducted in 2009,” he said.

 

At some sites, the researched showed this decline to have been as high as 43% in just two years.

 

In addition to coastal pollution, increased temperatures and overfishing have also had an impact. However, Dahlgren said, the sites closest to likely pollution sources were among those with the lowest live coral cover.

 

“It is clear that significant changes are happening to our coral reef resources,” Haley-Benjamin said. “It is imperative that we act now to prevent continued degradation.

 

“We and other concerned environmental groups stand ready to assist the government in identifying the origins of the oil spills and enhancing remediation efforts to accelerate meaningful results.

 

“To the extent that the $10 million plan announced in January may be working, it is clearly not working fast enough.”

RBC $5,000 Cheque Strengthens Save The Bays Education Mandate

RBC Banks on Save The Bays for Teaching Importance of Environment – RBC presents a cheque for $5,000 to Save The Bays in celebration of Blue Water Day, calling the fast-growing environmental group an “organization that believes in creating innovative ways to keep our environment clean while educating others to do the same.” Pictured at RBC Royal Bank Headquarters in Nassau on June 4 are l to r, Deborah Zonicle, RBC Market Manager, Bahamas, Cayman and Turks & Caicos Islands; Sharell Carroll, Manager, Corporate Communications, RBC Royal Bank, Bahamas Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands; Joseph Darville, Education Director and founder of Youth Environment Ambassadors, Save The Bays; Vanessa Haley-Benjamin, M.S., CEO, Save The Bays; and Environmental attorney and consultant Romauld Ferreira, Director of Legal Affairs, Save The Bays.

RBC Banks on Save The Bays for Teaching Importance of Environment – RBC Royal Bank presents a cheque for $5,000 to Save The Bays in celebration of RBC Blue Water Day, calling the fast-growing environmental group an “organization that believes in creating innovative ways to keep our environment clean while educating others to do the same.” Pictured at RBC Royal Bank Headquarters in Nassau on June 4 are l to r, Deborah Zonicle, RBC Market Manager, Products, Marketing, & Channels, Bahamas, Cayman and Turks & Caicos Islands; Sharell Carroll, Manager, Corporate Communications, RBC, Bahamas Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands; Joseph Darville, Education Director and founder of Youth Environment Ambassadors, Save The Bays; Vanessa Haley-Benjamin, M.S., CEO, Save The Bays; and Environmental attorney and consultant Romauld Ferreira, Director of Legal Affairs, Save The Bays.

RBC Royal Bank today awarded the fast-growing environmental movement Save The Bays a grant for $5,000, praising the organization for its environmental education efforts that mirror the bank’s 10-year, $50 million commitment to making and keeping regional waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable.

Pristine waters are also the core values of one of Save The Bays’ major thrusts going forward – Clifton Waterkeeper that will get a small piece of the latest grant.

But the lion’s share of the grant will go toward education and it was that arm of Save The Bays that has graduated dozens of young people trained as environmental ambassadors in Grand Bahama that was a magnet for the bank.

“RBC Royal Bank in celebration of RBC Blue Water Day is pleased to donate $5,000 to Save The Bays, an organization that believes in creating innovative ways to keep our environment clean while educating individuals to do the same,” said Sharell Carroll, Manager, Corporate Communications, RBC, Bahamas, Cayman and Turks & Caicos Islands. “The RBC Blue Water Project is an innovative, wide-ranging 10-year global commitment to help provide access to drinkable, swimmable, fishable water, now and for future generations.”

The donation followed a request from Save The Bays for support of its environmental education programs, including Youth Environmental Ambassadors (YEA). Funds will also go toward a train the trainer leadership program directed by the Centre for Creative Leadership in conjunction with Glover & Associates. According to coordinator and Save The Bays Education Director Joseph Darville, the program is led by Sharon Glover, a world renowned creative and sustainable leadership training professional who donates her time to the leadership development program.

“In conjunction with RBC the funds will assist in the training of some 15 young adult facilitators, some of whom will be selected from RBC staff. The Youth Environmental Ambassador Leadership program will be enhanced with a view of establishing this exceptionally successful program in Nassau and the Family Islands,” said Darville. “In this regard RBC will continue to be involved with us as members of their staff are trained and will work with our program to establish a solid core of youthful environmental stewards for safeguarding our sacred heritage way in the future. For that, we are extremely grateful.”

According to Save The Bays CEO Vanessa Haley-Benjamin, M.S., the partnership with RBC Royal Bank speaks volumes about the growing awareness of environmental importance.

“Corporate and community partnerships such as this one are the way forward for environmental organizations such as Save The Bays as we seek to engage the entire nation in the effort to preserve our natural resources for the benefit of future generations,” said Benjamin. “Support is very important to spreading our message of environmental protection throughout the nation.”

“Partnerships with organizations like Save The Bays speak to our commitment to ensuring that our environment is preserved for future generations to come,” said Deborah Zonicle, Market Manager, Products, Marketing & Channels, Bahamas, Cayman and Turks & Caicos Islands. “We also have scheduled tree planting activities with Sadie Curtis Primary school in collaboration with The College of The Bahamas and a beach cleanup activity is scheduled with Save The Bays. We continue to do our part to ensure that we are socially responsible at RBC.”

In addition to its educational efforts, Save The Bays is committed to passage of a Freedom of Information act, environmental protection act, accountability for oil pollution, and an end to unregulated development. With nearly 18,000 Facebook friends, the association is the fastest-growing NGO in The Bahamas.

The Moore Bahamas Foundation Funds Shark Education Outreach in Local Schools

Dr. Demian Chapman explains the importance of sharks in the Bahamas to students at Anatol Rodgers Jr. High. The Bahamas is home to over 50 species of sharks and in 2011 became the world’s first shark sanctuary. Diving with the protected sharks is reported to add $80 million to the Bahamian economy annually. (Photo by Kovah Duncombe.)

Dr. Demian Chapman explains the importance of sharks in the Bahamas to students at Anatol Rodgers Jr. High. The Bahamas is home to over 50 species of sharks and in 2011 became the world’s first shark sanctuary. Diving with the protected sharks is reported to add $80 million to the Bahamian economy annually. (Photo by Kovah Duncombe.)

Thanks to a generous grant from noted conservationist Louis Bacon and hisMoore Bahamas Foundation, the Bahamas affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, researchers from Stony Brook University School of Marine Science again spent time with local students at several schools after traveling Bahamian waters last week to study the migration and population of sharks and rays. This was the third year of the “Shark Week” education outreach program.

 

“I am proud to support these educational efforts that raise awareness about the importance of sharks in the Bahamas.  BREEF’s myriad educational programs highlight the importance of natural resources and the interconnectedness of wildlife habitats. The researchers’ work have had significant and lasting effects on students – making this program all the more essential,” said Louis Bacon, President of The Moore Charitable Foundation and Chairman of The Moore Bahamas Foundation.

Students at Anatol Rodgers Jr. High enjoy the interactive presentation from BREEF and Dr. Chapman. (Photo by Kovah Duncombe.)

Students at Anatol Rodgers Jr. High enjoy the interactive presentation from BREEF and Dr. Chapman. (Photo by Kovah Duncombe.)

 

Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director of BREEF, commented, “Once again, BREEF is grateful for the support of The Moore Bahamas Foundation, which enabled us to host our third ‘Shark Week’ with Stony Brook University. Students are always excited and curious to learn more about these majestic creatures and hear stories from the expedition.  Most importantly, they get the message that healthy shark populations help to keep money in our pockets and seafood on our plates. This year more than 250 students in five schools participated in Shark Week.”

 

The Bahamas has been a shark sanctuary since 2011 when pioneering legislation protecting sharks from commercial capture and trade was passed. Subsequent expeditions tracking the impact of that protection on shark populations have gained international attention not only among marine scientists, but also by a public fascinated with sharks, including a high number of views of the excursions on YouTube.

 

An expert on sharks and rays, lead researcher Dr. Demian Chapman, who was recently featured in a BBC special on sharks, commented: “In 2015, we are so happy to again partner with The Moore Bahamas Foundation, BREEF, the Cape Eleuthera Institute and Island School to educate Bahamian school children about the Shark Sanctuary and the movements of sharks we track.”

 

This year’s expedition focused on the southern Bahamas, with emphasis on whitetips – a critically endangered species that is slow-growing, breeds infrequently, sought after for its fins and is especially vulnerable to long line overfishing. Findings will be shared with the Department of Fisheries and the Bahamas National Trust. According to Dr. Chapman, providing such information including breeding habits and the movements of great hammerheads and oceanic whitetips, will help determine the success of The Bahamas as a shark sanctuary.

Save The Bays Supports Summer Boatbuilding and Sailmaking Program

Save The Bays Supports Nature Experience Summer Camp – Fast-growing environmental movement Save The Bays presents a cheque for $2,000 to support the Nature Experience Summer Camp program at the Charles Hayward Library in Grand Bahama. It’s the second year the environmental organization working to protect and preserve Bahamian waters is supporting the summer program that allows students to get hands on experiences including lessons in boatbuilding and sailmaking.  Library Executive Director Geneva Rutherford, left, and Librarian Shanreikah (Gardiner) Faustin accept cheque from Save The Bays Education Director Joseph Darville.

Save The Bays Supports Nature Experience Summer Camp – Fast-growing environmental movement Save The Bays presents a cheque for $2,000 to support the Nature Experience Summer Camp program at the Charles Hayward Library in Grand Bahama. It’s the second year the environmental organization working to protect and preserve Bahamian waters is supporting the summer program that allows students to get hands on experiences including lessons in boatbuilding and sailmaking. Library Executive Director Geneva Rutherford, left, and Librarian Shanreikah (Gardiner) Faustin accept cheque from Save The Bays Education Director Joseph Darville.

When school closes for the summer, a group of students will set aside their smart phones, tablets and high tech gadgets to pick up canvas and sail needles, saws and epoxy. Thanks to a summer camp sponsored in part by Save The Bays, they’ll learn traditional boatbuilding and sailmaking skills that many of their ancestors depended upon to survive in The Bahamas.

The two-week hands-on boat-building and sailmaking course is part of the larger Nature Experience Summer Camp with sessions held on the grounds of the Charles Hayward Public Library in Grand Bahama. Some 70 youngsters attended last year and Executive Director Geneva Rutherford expects the number to be higher this summer. While campers ages 5-15 move from activity to activity – lifesaving, nature experiences, fishing, straw craft and jewelry making — a special group of 12-15 year-olds will participate in the boatbuilding and sailmaking class made possible in large part by the grant from Save The Bays.

“This is the second year that Save The Bays has demonstrated appreciation of this course and what the respect for the sea will mean as these students become the adults who will protect and preserve our waters,” said Ms. Rutherford. “We are very grateful for their donation and the ongoing support from Save The Bays.”

Students who take the boatbuilding course will work with hard woods brought in especially for the program. Working from 9 am to 4 pm under tents and trees, they’ll cut, cure and shape the hull of a 12-foot dinghy before learning to cut and sew the sail that will drive it. The course is taught by Carnard Bethell who is brought in from Andros for the program.

“We are very excited that this year that the founder of Phillips Sailmakers in Nassau, Mr. Larry Phillips, will be here for one day to share his knowledge of native sloop sailmaking,” said Ms. Rutherford. “Mr. Phillips turned a childhood hobby into a profession and he will share with the students how Bahamian sloop sails differ from the cruising and racing sails that you see on most boats today.”

According to Save The Bays Education Director Joseph Darville, the summer camp dedicated to teaching young people more about their natural environment reflects Save The Bays’ values.

“When this organization was formed a little more than two years ago, we agreed to focus resources whenever we could on programs that help open the eyes of young people to the beauty and the majesty of this great country which our Creator has given us. It is the young people who will become the future stewards of the environment protecting and preserving our waters and our natural resources. The Nature Experience Summer Camp at Charles Hayward Library in Grand Bahama is a fantastic opportunity for our future stewards to experience everything from bird watching to boat-building. I just wish we could duplicate this in every island of this archipelago.”

Assisting in the camp will be another group of young persons – graduates of the Young Environmental Ambassadors certification course, created and sponsored by Save The Bays. That program is so popular that more than twice the number of students who could be accommodated tried to sign up.

Founded in April 2013, Save The Bays is urging passage of comprehensive environmental protection legislation, an adequate Freedom of Information act, end to unregulated development and other protective environmental and resource management measures. It is the fastest-growing environmental movement in the country’s history with a significant following on Facebook and numerous YouTube videos being watched around the world.

Louis Bacon, Lee C. Bollinger and Alan Gilbert Honored with Foreign Policy Association Medals

May 28, 2015The Foreign Policy Association (FPA) held its annual dinner on May 21, 2015 where it presented three distinguished honorees with the Foreign Policy Association Medal, including Louis Bacon, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Moore Capital Management, LP and President of The Moore Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University; and Alan Gilbert, Music Director, New York Philharmonic. Additionally, Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer, Eni Spa was presented with FPA’s Corporate Social Responsibility Award.

 

The Foreign Policy Association Medal recognizes individuals demonstrating responsible internationalism and who are working to expand public knowledge of international affairs.

 

Past recipients include the Honorable Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City; Timothy Geithner, Chairman, Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister, Australia.

 

Legendary NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw introduced honoree Louis Bacon, commending Bacon’s stewardship on climate change: “There are two fundamental concepts we should keep in mind – to be proactive citizens in our own country, and to be global citizens. I can’t think of anyone of his generation who has that in his every waking moment than the man we are here to honor – Louis Bacon.” Brokaw added, “I am so reassured to know that he is taking his place in the forefront of this extraordinarily important challenge.”

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Upon receiving the Foreign Policy Association Medal, Louis Bacon commented, “I wish to thank the FPA for this great honor. Our Foundation is privileged to support great environmental causes and join in conservation activist campaigns.”

 

Bacon continued, “Our commitment spans across North America and internationally. In particular, we have supported conservation efforts to save threatened land and marine areas in the Bahamas – a place I care deeply about and which has felt like my second home over the last twenty-five years.”

 

A longtime conservationist dedicated to the preservation of coastal and marine habitats, Bacon commended the Bahamian government for its great progress in the conservation of natural resources and urged more action to ensure proper governance and regulation, “We are supporting local efforts to adopt a comprehensive environmental safety net with an Environmental Protection Act as well as a Freedom of Information Act. Without such legislation, environmentalists are unable to hold accountable those responsible for the common occurrence of oil spills fouling waters and developers destroying the precious coral reefs.”

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As the principal public forum in New York City for foreign policy addresses, the FPA attracts broad national and international attention. Through its annual meetings program and World Leadership Forum, the FPA gives members access to discussion and debate on the most critical issues facing America today.

 

Honoree Lee C. Bollinger said, “The world has changed, just in the past decade, in ways that are just as significant in the post WWII era. The main changes driving it are the issues to be addressed – we can no longer leave climate change or global economic governance simply to countries to solve. Every university has to have some alignment with the outside world and has a significant role to address issues in the unique way we do. As a global university, hopefully Columbia University can be the home for that broader effort.”

 

With support from The Moore Charitable Foundation, the FPA has also convened a Task Force on Climate Change to make recommendations for a North American strategy to abate global warming and make climate change a priority for U.S. foreign policy.

 

The FPA Annual Awards Dinner presents an opportunity to honor individuals for their work in the foreign policy process and release findings from the FPA Task Force on Climate Change – continuing the FPA’s 97-year history as a catalyst for developing awareness and understanding of U.S. foreign policy and global issues.

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