Archive | July, 2016

Save The Bays Support Grows

 

Save The Bays Support Grows; Facebook Likes Top 20,000, More than 7,000 Sign Petition

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition that will soon be presented to government calling for strict environmental legislation and nearly three times that many have checked the Like icon on its Facebook page – both signs of “powerful and growing support for Save The Bays,” says the organization.

Joseph Darville, Save The Bays Chairman“Save The Bays is only a little more than three years old but in that short time we have gained respect for the courage of our legal filings and the value of our educational campaigns. We are proud of the powerful support that continues to grow as people recognise that the environment is everyone’s business, not a luxury for another day, but a necessity for the lives we want and the land and waters we cherish,” said Joseph Darville, Chairman of the non-government organization with hundreds of members. “As of July 12, we had more than 20,000 Likes on Facebook, and 7,087 signatures on our petition. https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-perry-christie-help-save-the-bays-before-paradise-is-lost”

Launched in late March 2013 by Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, the petition has a seven-point platform. It seeks to have government put an end to unregulated development, hold guilty parties accountable for oil pollution in Clifton Bay and stop the pollution, pass an environmental protection act, pass freedom of information legislation, create a long-promised marine park in conjunction with Clifton Heritage Park to marry the land and sea heritage, establish the West New Providence Marine Managed Area to protect New Providence’s vital 7-mile coral reef ecosystems, and pass conchservation laws.  

“There was a time when the environment was considered a matter for the elite,” said Darville. “When you had nothing else to worry about, you could worry about the environment. If we have done our job – and I think we have – it has been to show that the protection of the environment is up to each of us and needs are often urgent and immediate,” said Darville. “We have watched as other countries have overfished their waters, depleted their fish stock and now invade our waters. We have watched as others have allowed beautiful coral reefs to be destroyed. We have watched with great sadness what has happened right here in our own country when oversized developments swamp areas that were not designed to support them. We have said repeatedly and we hope this message is heard loud and clear that Save The Bays is NOT anti-development. We are pro sustainable, environmentally sensitive development that includes community input and protects the air we breathe, the water we fish or swim in, the conch, fish and crawfish we enjoy and the culture that makes our communities, particularly in the Family Islands, the unique place each one is. Since numbers don’t lie, it is apparent that a whole host of people who have signed our petition, liked our Facebook page and listened to the music with a message by K.B. agree that those are noble goals and we encourage more to sign on and keep the momentum going.”

Save The Bays did not say when it would present the petition, but did say it would be “soon.” A list of its achievements, cases and editorial contributions is on its website at www.savethebays.bs and current postings are on its Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheBays/. Its latest music by rake ‘n’ scrape artist Kirkland ‘K.B.’ Bodie jumped from 40,000 hits in the first few weeks to more than 80,000, possibly setting a new record for Bahamian music online.  

Thanks to Entertainment Giant for Supporting Coral Reef Restoration

Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays Join Hands to Applaud Disney Cruise Line for Shelving Egg Island Plans, Express Thanks to Entertainment Giant for Supporting Coral Reef Restoration

Two leading organisations with strong ties to the marine environment today added their voices to quickly mounting applause, thanking Disney Cruise Lines for shelving plans to lease Egg Island in North Eleuthera for a private island cruise destination.

stb1“Speaking on behalf of Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save The Bays, I extend heartfelt congratulations to Disney Cruise Lines and to the citizens of North Eleuthera who, as a corporation and as a community, came to the same conclusion — that to have proceeded with plans to develop this ecologically sensitive area into a heavily trafficked, commercial venture requiring extensive dredging and destruction of coral reefs would have been an environmental disaster. In fact, it would have violated the very sound ecological principles which Disney has come to represent,” said Joseph Darville, Chairman. “In addition to being an entertainment giant, Disney has also been a great friend of the environment.”

The Disney Conservation Fund is currently supporting coral reef restoration in The Bahamas through a program called Reverse the Decline.

Disney announced late Thursday it was scrapping plans to transform the island not far from Spanish Wells into a private day trip destination for passengers after it reviewed an environmental impact assessment and geotechnical studies it had commissioned. The cruise line had never formally announced it was pursuing a private island destination in Eleuthera, but news spread like fire in a drought when an engineering contract with a Spanish Wells link surfaced. The local community pulled together, drafting a petition circulated widely online eliciting more than 2,000 signatures in a matter of days.

“All the stars aligned on this and everything worked as it should,” said Darville. “The corporate entity, Disney Cruise Lines, demonstrated responsibility and made the right choice. The community got together and spoke in a voice that could not be ignored about an activity that would have changed their way of life and could have destroyed much of the fish population on which they depend for their livelihood because the reefs and the mangroves around Egg Island are important fish, conch and crawfish nurseries and habitats. And the environmental impact assessment did what it was created for. Based on science, not emotion, it showed that there would have been damage and destruction of the marine environment.”

Darville said he hopes that the Disney example becomes the model on which others proceed in the future. “If only this had happened in Bimini, we might have been able to save some of the world’s most famous and treasured coral reefs that were destroyed in the name of development and for the sake of a cruise dock that is not even being used. On the positive side, maybe it takes a grave loss like that to open eyes and sensitize people to take greater care in the future.”

PM called on to release Rubis leak review

PM called on to release Rubis leak review

STB hits out at continued failure to explain why residents were kept in the dark for over two years in the face of a dangerous toxic fuel spill 

More than a year since the government promised them a full and frank explanation, Marathon residents are no closer to understanding why they were left in the dark about a dangerous toxic fuel spill in the center of their community.

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, who first announced the review in May 2015, insists that only the person who conducted the investigation can speak to its results. But retired Justice Joseph Strachan, appointed to undertake the review, has also washed his hands of the matter, saying that “in due course, persons who are in a better position than I will speak to the release of the report”.

Marathon Residents protest outside the Rubis service station on Robinson Road, where in December 2012, more than 20,000 gallons of gasoline leaked into the ground releasing toxic fumes and contaminating the water supply to nearby households. The government said it would explain why residents were not informed of the potential danger, but more than a year on, there is no sign of the promised review.

Marathon Residents protest outside the Rubis service station on Robinson Road, where in December 2012, more than 20,000 gallons of gasoline leaked into the ground releasing toxic fumes and contaminating the water supply to nearby households. The government said it would explain why residents were not informed of the potential danger, but more than a year on, there is no sign of the promised review.

For Joseph Darville, chairman of leading environmental advocacy group Save The Bays (STB), the ongoing uncertainty surrounding this issue is totally unacceptable in light of the grave danger faced by that community.

“Rubis and our elected officials knew for more than two years that Marathon residents had potentially been exposed to very dangerous chemicals, but made no public announcement about the leak,” Darville said. “When the truth finally came out, the Attorney General apologized and promised a full explanation of her government’s actions. Instead of providing answers, officials have done nothing but sow further confusion.”

Darville said that if both Strachan and Maynard-Gibson refuse to bring some clarity to the matter, Prime Minister Perry Christie must step in and explain what has happened to the results of the review.

“Enough is enough – the public is tired of excuses. The buck stops with the Prime Minister and he must ensure that the residents of Marathon get the justice they deserve.

“I have been fighting for the victims of chemical pollution for more than four decades and have seen first-hand the terrible consequences – from respiratory problems and skin irritation, to birth defects and outbreaks of cancer.

“As principal of Grand Bahama Catholic High School, I fought to protect the health of my students from the communities of Pinder’s Point, Lewis Yard and Hawksbill in the face of heavy pollution from nearby industrial plants. Oil spills and chemical emissions continue to cause health issues and even deaths in that area to this day. Meanwhile, reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) have been kept under wraps.

 “In Marathon, as in Grand Bahama, it is the government’s job to protect the public and report such threats as they arise. Both these communities deserve to know why they were abandoned.”

Darville noted that in addition to the release of the review, Marathon residents are still waiting for follow-up medical tests, with many unable to get hold of their results from the first round of health screenings.

STB members have repeatedly spoken out in support of those affected by the leak, taking part in a silent protest in July 2015 outside the station. The chairman said the group will continue to fight for the rights of the victims of this leak and all others who are adversely affected by pollution, unregulated development and other environmental hazards.

“The government is sorely mistaken if it believes official silence will make the Rubis affair and others like it simply disappear.  Save The Bays, its community partners, and concerned citizens across the length and breadth of The Bahamas will continue to fight to ensure that the truth, justice and the rule of law prevail for the people of Marathon.”

Save The Bays Contributes to Public Consultation on Freedom of Information


The fast-growing environmental movement 
Save The Bays submitted several recommendations for amendments to the proposed Freedom of Information Act, including what it considers the most critical change to the draft legislation – establishment of an apolitical, totally independent Information Commissioner and unit.   

“We are grateful to the government for inviting public input on this important draft Bill,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville. “We submitted our recommendations by hand on June 21 along with a letter reflecting support for those submitted and shared with us by the Organization for Responsible Government (ORG) and we believe that with the considered contributions made by both groups along with consulting attorneys and students of transparency-related legislation, the Bill with recommended amendments could be one of the strongest anywhere, something The Bahamas could be proud of for many decades to come.” 

Joseph Darville, Save The Bays Chairman

Joseph Darville, Save The Bays Chairman

In the letter submitted to Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald under whose portfolio the pending legislation falls, Save The Bays called freedom of information “the bedrock of democracy” and a basic tenet of the organisation’s platform, adding that it was the absence of transparency that led to environmental threats throughout the islands, in turn triggering the filing of numerous legal cases by Save The Bays. Two years ago, Save The Bays led a massive demonstration in Rawson Square that brought together groups representing more than 35,000 members calling for freedom of information and the organization has campaigned tirelessly for the legislation that it says will enable communities to contribute to development plans that will impact them and will allow everyone to see the public’s business, including environmental impact assessments while there is still time to amend.

Nearly 100 countries have passed some form of legislation allowing the public access to records, public contracts and fees with The Bahamas remaining in the minority of those still cloaked in secrecy with confidentiality taking priority over transparency. It has been more than 30 years since the United Nations called for all countries to abide by the Transnational Corporation agreement that declared the right to know a basic consumer right. Last year, the world body strengthened its call, trying to take politics out of the equation of open and transparent business deals as well as allowing consumers the right to know what ingredients were used in products.

“The world is moving toward openness and yet the draft legislation that we have waited so long for in The Bahamas states that the Information Commissioner would be appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister following the consultation with the Leader of the Opposition,” said the organisation’s statement. “We recommend that final legislation provide for an Information Commissioner with no political affiliation be appointed by a process used by other jurisdictions that requires public involvement in the nomination and appointment of an Information Commissioner.”

Save The Bays said the same independence should be afforded the budget. According to the draft legislation, Parliament would appropriate funding for the Freedom of Information Unit. The group also recommended extensive training abroad with a careful and deliberate roll-out following the completion of team members’ experience in a well-functioning Freedom of Information office. And they recommended slicing the time for an initial response from 30 to 20 days except where certain conditions exist.

Freedom of information is the bedrock of democracy,” said Fred Smith, QC. Director of Legal Affairs for Save The Bays and its former chairman. “Almost every other civilized nation in the world has a freedom of information act. They have it in England, throughout the UK, throughout the US, throughout Europe and the Caribbean. It is time for The Bahamas to lock step with other democratic nations. This is a great opportunity to make a real difference.”

The Queen’s Counsel along with attorney Romauld Ferreira has filed several legal actions where the environment is threatened by unregulated development or lack of permits.

“Critical to the process of “Government in The Sunshine”, is transparency, prevention of corruption, promotion of equal opportunity to Bahamians and accountable governance for a small nation like The Bahamas,” said Smith. “This will lead to a transparent and accountable FOIA statutory process on direct foreign investment preventing the secret Heads of Agreements on Anchor Projects”.

“Our concern over a lack of Freedom of Information in The Bahamas has only been heightened and validated by the propagation of contentious and controversial projects such as Nygard Cay, a private resort located on Clifton Bay built on $35 million worth of Crown Land that began construction before permits were in place; Blackbeard Cay, a tourist attraction just north of Nassau which imported dolphins from Honduras in 2014 without following proper planning and permitting procedures under the Marine Mammal Protection Act; Great Guana Cay, in which citizens were abruptly displaced in 2005 after a developer was given the green light to develop 650 acres with no public consultation; and, the land deals of Mayaguana, the Ginn Project in Grand Bahama and BahaMar in New Providence which featured secret heads of agreements and tax concessions.”

Along with its judicial matters, Save The Bays’ advocacy and education campaigns to sensitise the public to the importance of environmental protection continue on a daily basis and the organisation’s popularity grows along with its efforts. Save The Bays Facebook page topped 20,000 Likes recently and its petition hit its target of 7,000 signatures plus.

Save The Bays proud to help Bain Town regain its Beauty

Rediscovering the Beauty of Bain Town

Local group unveils ambitious plan to use environmental rejuvenation as a springboard for social development in the inner city

 

Left to right: BGTAA president Rev. CB Moss; Save The Bays chairman Joseph Darville; BGTAA member Celi Moss and BGTAA environmental health director Winston Sweeting.

Left to right: BGTAA president Rev. CB Moss; Save The Bays chairman Joseph Darville; BGTAA member Celi Moss and BGTAA environmental health director Winston Sweeting.

Improving the physical appearance of a community can be a powerful tool for social change according to Rev. CB Moss.

For the veteran activist and president of the Bain and Grants Town Advancement Association, recapturing the former beauty of historic inner city neighbourhoods not only encourages a greater appreciation for the environment; it also promotes pride, self-respect and a feeling of togetherness among those who live there.

This, he said, is precisely the idea behind of the association’s ambitious new pilot program, Project Clean Sweep, which will aim not only to remove trash, derelict vehicles and other environmental pollutants, but also beautify the area for the enjoyment of all its residents.

“There was once a time when this area was considered the pride of New Providence,” Rev. Moss said. “Through years of neglect it has deteriorated considerably.

“The aim is to arrest this trend and return Bain and Grants Town to it former charm, in the process giving its residents, who have suffered many hardships and disappointments, a reason to be both proud and hopeful.”

Phase 1, which will target the southern half of Bain Town, was launched following a donation from Save The Bays (STB), a leader in environmental advocacy in The Bahamas which supports the efforts of a number of community partners as part of its mandate to promote environmental protection, freedom of information and the rule of law.

Moss said a number of other entities have expressed interest in supporting Project Clean Sweep, and he expects further donations in the near future.

“We do not plan to stop here. Phase 2 will tackle northern Bain Town and we are fully confident that responsible citizens will support that effort and help us expand the project into Grants Town as well,” he said.

Moss advised the public to stay tuned for regular updates on the progress of this groundbreaking effort.

Waterkeepers Bahamas wants to bring awareness to the issue of Oil Pollution to Clifton Bay.

International Experts Tour Clifton Bay, View Oil Pollution Up Close,

Waterkeepers Bahamas Hopes Global Interest Will Help Shed Light, Provide Solutions

  

International experts, including a former presidential advisor, toured Clifton and the Southwest Bays recently, their boat slicing through the water between oil slicks and coasting over reefs as they witnessed the sharp distinction between some of the world’s most beautiful waters and the oil pollution threatening its health and the fish, conch and crawfish that call it home.

Joe Darville

Waterkeepers Bahamas President and Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville (above) recently participated in a boat tour of the oil-polluted Clifton Bay along with international experts, including Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director Marc Yaggi who told his colleagues the only way to prevent environmental catastrophes from continuing to escalate in The Bahamas is by taking steps to ensure transparency and accountability through enactment of Freedom of Information legislation and a comprehensive Environmental Protection Act.

“What we saw breaks your heart,” said Joseph Darville, Chairman of Save The Bays and President of Waterkeepers Bahamas, an organization licensed to monitor Bahamian waters. “This is an area where many Bahamians who lived in Nassau used to come to fish. There were live coral reefs with thousands and thousands of mutton snappers, grey snappers and other species. This is no longer the case. Due to the so-called development in this area, it has been saturated with oil and the reefs in the vicinity have died.”

The two-hour boat excursion, videoed and recorded by a local company, also included fellow Save The Bays members Rashema Ingraham, Diane Phillips and Paco Nuñez as well as representatives from Clifton WaterkeeperBimini Waterkeeper, and Grand Bahama Waterkeeper. The outing was part of a day-long trip arranged in cooperation with Marc Yaggi, Executive Director for Waterkeeper Alliance, one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements comprised of 293 Waterkeeper organizations in 34 countries on six continents, who together patrol and protect nearly 2.5 million square miles of watershed.

“I snorkelled at the same reef I had snorkelled about eight years ago,” said Yaggi, who travels the world inspecting changes in the marine environment as part of Waterkeepers’ long-range goal of cleaning up the world’s waters, creating more areas where water is drinkable, fishable and swimmable.

“It was very obvious that the reef had undergone significant stress. There were fewer fish and the coral had clearly seen better days,” he said. “The Waterkeepers team showed me more of the dark underbelly of this tropical paradise. We saw massive oil plumes fouling some of the clearest waters on earth. The stench of oil was dizzying.”

Save The Bays, a burgeoning environmental advocacy group that was initially established for the purpose of preserving and protecting Clifton Bay and other common marine environments surrounding New Providence, has garnered upwards of 7,000 signatures on a petition calling upon the government to take positive action to protect against devastating threats to the country’s marine environment, namely oil pollution in Clifton Bay as well as the toxic runoff resulting from unregulated development.

“It’s very important that we protect our natural resources and find a balance between development and environmental protection for the benefit of future generations of Bahamians,” said Nuñez, press liaison for Save The Bays. “If we are not careful about how we develop them, we stand the chance of severely compromising the natural advantages of our country.”

As one of its main tenets, Save The Bays has repeatedly spoken out against unregulated development like Simm’s Point/Nygard Cay, a development which international conservationists, including Waterkeeper Alliance members, have called a tragedy due to the fact that construction of groynes and jetties associated with the project have blocked the flow of sand into Clifton Bay ultimately leading to the erosion of Jaws Beach.

Nuñez pointed to a lack of transparency and accountability in Bahamian government as the greatest obstacles to achieving justice for the environment in The Bahamas, a point which Yaggi himself discussed with the Waterkeeper community during his recent visit.

“Information is power and that forces a level of transparency which will allow members of the community to follow along as important decisions are being made,” Yaggi said. “The lack of a Freedom of Information law is typically the result of having people in leadership who don’t want the public to know what’s going on. They want to keep their actions hidden, and there’s a reason behind that, so shining a light on that is incredibly important.”


Waterkeepers Bahamas works to promote the availability of clean water on three waterbodies in Bimini, Grand Bahama and Clifton & Western Bays on New Providence so that these waterbodies are swimmable, fishable and drinkable for future generations. The organization is a proud member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement that has united more than 290 Waterkeeper members and affiliates around the world, all working together to focus citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change.  If you are aware of pollution, unregulated development or other illegal activities taking place in the area please contact Rashema Ingraham via phone 242-602-7531 or send an email to 
waterkeepers.bahamas@gmail.com. For more information on The Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay petition, please visit https://www.change.org/o/protectcliftonbay

KB’s latest, Anchor Projects, sponsored by Save The Bays reaches 40,000+ views

Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie’s latest release for Save The Bays ‘Anchor Projects’ marries his environmental and social message with the musical giant’s classic rake ‘n scrape beat and it’s already attracted more than 40,000 since its launch May 31.

KB’s Latest Save The Bays Release ‘Anchor Projects’ Draws 40,000+ Views in 1st Month     

Kirkland ‘KB’ Bodie, the Bahamas’ top-selling recording artist, is pouring on the lyrical heat again taking his message with the unmistakable beat and a social conscience to the airwaves and the public’s appetite is bigger than ever – more than 40,000 have tuned in to hear ‘Anchor Projects’ since it launched last month.

“ ‘Anchor Projects hurtin’ we all’ is the latest in a series of songs with substance written and produced by KB and sponsored by Save The Bays, the environmental advocacy group with more than 20,000 Facebook friends and nearly 7,000 signatures on a petition calling for comprehensive freedom of information and environmental protection legislation. Its latest petition http://chn.ge/28KXoPz speaks directly to the subject of anchor projects and urges government not to replace the current Planning and Subdivision Act with a weaker version that would allow more projects to go through with less environmental and community control.

“Each one of the pieces I produced is aimed at getting all Bahamians regardless of age, education or social status to understand that what is important is preserving our environment and our culture, not trying to imitate someone else’s,” said the artist.

KB’s first song, Let’s Save The Bays, set the tone for mixing music with message and each one since has combined the sound of rake ‘n scrape and a catchy theme. As one young fan said, “KB brings a comedic view to a serious political issue.”

The music video contrasts large anchor projects including the empty and unfinished giant Baha Mar with smaller, huggable treasures like Graycliff and Compass Point. In the song he calls for more gems like those “More boutique hotels eco-friendly safe, we done drop enough anchor projects round da place.”

“Once again, KB has nailed it, putting the urgent need to protect community and the environment in a musical context that is so Bahamian and reaches everyone,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville. “If you haven’t heard it yet, please go to our Facebook page, sign the Planning and Subdivision Act petition while you are there and if you have heard it and want to hear it more, call your favourite radio station. They do listen when people request songs.”

The concept of anchor projects was first introduced nearly 20 years ago as a way to create development on populated Family Islands with the government of the day believing that large resorts would attract visitors and provide jobs for Bahamians. That economic model has been controversial from the start generating fears that mega-resorts and large projects would not only put too much pressure on fragile marine and land environments but would also forever change the culture that existed on the island prior to construction. Small and stylish, laidback or luxurious were all better for the islands, opponents of anchor projects said.

Now K.B.’s music with the anchor project hook is an eerily rhythmic reminder of the early warnings.

“These anchor projects hurtin’ we all, the damage big, and returns are small,” he sings in the chorus. And elsewhere, “Remember anchors don’t lift you up, anchors hold you down.”

“We are very fortunate that an artist like KB chooses to use his music to reach out and to deliver a message reminding us not to sacrifice what we cherish because we believe it will earn a dollar and most of the time it is not even a dollar that at the end of the day will stay in The Bahamas,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joseph Darville. “That is not meant to be an anti-foreign sentiment because Save The Bays welcomes local and foreign investors but we just want development to be eco-friendly to preserve the very thing that draws people to this beautiful Bahamaland in the first place.”

 

 

Freedom of Information Key to Alleviating ‘Fear’ in The Bahamas

Only Legislation Demanding Transparency and Accountability Will Pave Way for Establishing Human Rights  

Last month, four controversial questions promoting gender equality in citizenship matters were put to public vote in The Bahamas in a hotly-contested referendum. As the world looked on, United Nations agencies applauded the country’s efforts to establish human rights standards in line with the international community, while citizens from every facet of Bahamian society engaged in contentious and emotional debates, many of which, it was suspected, were based more on intolerance and fear than on political and social principles.

In the end, fear won out, and all four proposed changes were rejected resoundingly and overwhelmingly, leaving some Bahamians wondering where the country goes from here when it comes to acquiring what many believe are fundamental human rights integral to any democratic society.

Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville appeared on a recent edition of “Ed Fields Live” on Nassau’s Kiss 96.1-FM radio station urging Bahamians to rely on wisdom rather than fear when making decisions about the future of the country, particularly when it comes to human rights policies.

Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville appeared on a recent edition of “Ed Fields Live” on Nassau’s Kiss 96.1-FM radio station urging Bahamians to rely on wisdom rather than fear when making decisions about the future of the country, particularly when it comes to human rights policies.

“The anger and intolerance has taken over the mentality of the average Bahamian. Bahamians are suffering a psychological crutch, a form of mental slavery,” Save The Bays Chairman and founding member of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, Joseph Darville, said on a recent edition of “Ed Fields Live” on Nassau’s Kiss 96.1-FM. “One of the things we lack in The Bahamas is wisdom. This lack of wisdom is the reason that fear has taken control of Bahamians.”

According to Darville, that fear is further exacerbated by an overall lack of transparency and accountability in government which is why he feels that passing a Freedom of Information Act is the only legitimate pathway to establishing rights and protections of any kind—be they civil, human or environmental—in The Bahamas.

“Fear has been used to keep the Bahamian down—fear in the church and fear in the political system,” Darville said. “I encourage my people, especially the young, to become educated, informed, committed and passionate about leading this Commonwealth for years to come. We are not independent until our spirits are free and all fear is removed from our hearts.”

As one of the main tenets in its platform, Save The Bays has pushed for Freedom of Information legislation since its inception, organizing the very first FOIA rally in Rawson Square in downtown Nassau in June 2014. Since then, the environmental advocacy group has worked tirelessly to make sure the issue remains on the public’s radar, most notably gathering more than 7,000 signatures on a petition calling for the government to pass an FOI bill. Deadline for public consultation on the proposed bill is July 15.

“All I want is for decisions to be wiser,” Darville said. “I want us to be conscious about the cause and effects of our actions. We need to reflect on what our actions will result in the future. The government should always have the best interest and the well-being of Bahamians in mind in the long run.”

For more information on the Freedom of Information Act, please visit www.savethebays.bs, www.orgbahamas.com or www.citizensforabetterbahamas.org Written recommendations should be emailed to foibahamas@gmail.com.