Archive | March, 2017

Save the Bays Hosts West End Community Cleanup

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Save The Bays
in conjunction with the West End Eco-Fishing Camp and 4 Ocean are spearheading a community wide cleanup initiative in West End, Grand Bahama this Saturday, April 1 from 9am to 3pm.

“Things have changed dramatically over the years in The Bahamas and we are not showing the same pride our parents did,” said, Joe Darville, Save The Bays Chairman. “We’re aiming for 100 volunteers and are appealing to residents of the West End community to be stewards of the environment and come out and get involved in beautifying the surrounding areas where they live.”

Volunteers will meet at the West End Clinic behind St. Mary’s Anglican Parish Hall at 9am. Lunch, t-shirts, hats and gloves will be provided for volunteers. Tennis and jeans are recommended. Students will be eligible to receive community service hours for their participation in the cleanup.

“For too long we’ve allowed our once pristine coastline to become a dumping ground for refuse,” said Rashema Ingraham, Youth Environment Ambassadors Coordinator. “We realize that often time debris is washed ashore from those in the boating community as well. Now is the time to get a handle on the situation before it really gets out of hand.”Bahamas Photographer

Save The Bays, launched in 2013, has filed several judicial review actions on behalf of various Family Islanders who were displaced by or not consulted in connection with investor developments that impacted their lives. Its online petition calling for a true freedom of information act, an end to unregulated development and a comprehensive environmental protection agency has gained nearly 7,000 signatures.

STB ‘Private Carnival Cruise Port Secret Deal, no consultation, will drive nail in Freeport economy, kill 5 eco-systems’

The chairman and legal counsel for a powerful environmental advocacy group have charged the Christie administration with sealing a deal to create a private cruise port at East End, Grand Bahama that could kill the already struggling Freeport economy and endanger five fragile eco-systems that they say are among the most magnificent in the world.

The comments by Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville and legal counsel Fred Smith, QC, came during a recent Voice of the Bays, The Environment Speaks radio show on Love 97.5 while they were discussing a proposed $200 million cruise port at East End, Grand Bahama. The port would be built by and for Carnival Cruise Lines and while Carnival says that it will employ Bahamians and provmangrove.pngide entrepreneurial opportunities for vendors, Smith and Darville say the price of such a port is too great to pay. And they contend that locals in the area and in other parts of Grand Bahama whose livelihoods and environment were never consulted.

“Nobody in Grand Bahama knows exactly where this is going, whether it is on Crown Land or private land, if Crown Land, how much is going to be given away, what the tax incentives are, what the environmental impact will be or how it will affect the thousands of licensees in Freeport who survive from the cruise ships that come in,” said Smith. “What about the taxi drivers, the bus drivers, the tour operators, the restaurants, David Wallace’s beach concession, East End Tours, the banana boat operators, jet ski operators, the vendors who sell their wares on the beach?”

According to Darville, who chairs the high-profile outspoken organization with more than 20,000 Facebook friends, the new port will not only put a nail in the coffin of a Freeport economy already on life support. It will also destroy irreplaceable environmental assets, he fears.

“It is a 35-40 mile ride from Freeport to East End so you are creating an attraction that will suck the very life out of Freeport which already has the infrastructure in place for cruise ships and they could add to that, improve what is already there. This could spell the death of the economy that is dependent upon cruise business.

“There is an environment aspect that is absolutely frightening, nightmarish even. There are almost seven miles of pristine beach. Somehow, the cruise line came across this gem and now they want to destroy it? There are five distinct eco-systems. You have probably a mile and a half of deep ocean, then the panorama of shallower waters with beautiful coral reefs, then coming in closer to shore, you have the grassy area there are turtles, fish, bonefish, and because of the soft nature of the coastal area, you have embarkments that allow the water to flow over and into the mangroves.

“That’s five eco-systems they would have to dredge through in order to be able to get through,” continued Darville. “They are going to rape the reefs, destroy the mangroves, dredge out the wetlands and they will say it is for the benefit of Bahamians. Baloney, it’s for the benefit of the cruise line.”

Both men are equally troubled by what they say was a lack of broad consultation with locals, though they are aware there was at least one meeting with a small group.

“We have a Local Government Act,” said Smith. “We have an East End District Council. Have they been consulted?”

Smith and Darville worry that deals are negotiated in private and shrouded in secrecy with the public learning what is happening when a Heads of Agreement photo opp takes place.

“We lament and we resist and we decry these continuing heads of agreement just like Baha Mar whereby the government sits in Nassau in the office of the Prime Minister which gets bedazzled like the native Indians that Columbus discovered 500 years ago and they gave them some kind of shiny beads and suddenly all the Indian land is gone,” Smith said.

“We continue to operate a system of government whereby the office of the Prime Minister behaves in secret and makes decisions without reference to the people most affected. There is a failure to understand that the government represents the people including the people throughout the Family Islands and this is the same problem that Save The Bays has been addressing since we were formed.”

Save The Bays, launched in 2013, has filed several judicial review actions on behalf of various Family Islanders who were displaced by or not consulted in connection with investor developments that impacted their lives. Its online petition calling for a true freedom of information act, an end to unregulated development and a comprehensive environmental protection agency has gained nearly 7,000 signatures.

STB Legal ‘Dump fires result of 50 years of criminal negligence, Residents have right to take legal action’

Save the Bays Director Fred Smith

Save the Bays Director Fred Smith QC

A noted Queen’s Counsel attorney and head of the legal team for environmental advocacy group Save The Bays today blamed what he called “50 years of criminal negligence” for the fires at the Nassau dump and urged victims to exercise their right to legal action.

“I cry shame on every member of Parliament and every executive in each of the administrations be it the Free National Movement (FNM) or the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) that they should have allowed a state of affairs to exist at the city dump affecting thousands of people month after month after month for decades,” declared Fred Smith, QC, environmental advocacy attorney and managing partner of Callenders Law Firm, Grand Bahama.

“I want to emphasize that, in my opinion, it is criminally neglectful, criminally negligent of government after government to have allowed a situation to exist where this dump just continues to pose such a toxic and hazardous threat to the people of New Providence.”

Smith made his comments during the radio show Voice of the Bays, The Environment Speaks. The show airs on Love 97.5 on Wednesdays from 5- 6 pm.

“The show this week picks up where Fred Smith laid off,” said host Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville. “Dr. Arlington Lightbourne, founder of The Wellness Clinic on Collins Avenue, will talk about specific health concerns, long-term impact and how individuals can best mitigate against the impact of toxins and carcinogens that will remain in the air, permeate the soil and affect the water lens for years to come.”

Smith’s call to action and the two radio shows dedicated to the subject of the Nassau dump follow in the aftermath of the latest blaze which erupted Sunday, March 5. Thick black billowing smoke filled the air and for those attempting to land at Sir Lynden International Airport, the view from above looked like the island was on fire and enveloped by dense dark cover. On the ground, residents of nearby Jubilee Gardens fled for their lives, some nearly two weeks later still not able to get back into their homes that were stained and scarred from the fire, smoke and ash. According to one report, 27 of those residents were treated at the Flamingo Gardens Clinic that same day and four of those admitted to emergency care at Princess Margret Hospital.

“You all need to sue,” Mr. Smith advised. “You’ve got over 1500 lawyers in Nassau. How is it that a group of lawyers has not yet come together to act for free for a group of people to bring an action for criminal negligence against the people responsible? It’s insane that in a place like New Providence a situation like this can exist.

“Our government should treat this as a national disaster. Use taxpayer money to help. I want to see my government in a generous, kind, gracious manner, treating those people in a way they deserve. They have been displaced from their homes. Their lives have been disrupted. They are subjecting themselves to hazards that years from now will affect their health. The doctor said that years down the road, we could have hundreds who will die from carcinogens that the body cannot metabolize. Ordinary masks cannot keep those chemicals out. This is a national disaster and a national disgrace and I call upon the citizens to stand up for their rights and for the government to do right by the citizens it is charged with representing.”

Save The Bays is a leading advocacy organization with a following of more than 20,000 friends on Facebook.https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheBays/ Its legal, education, environmental stewardship training, environmental monitoring and public awareness programs touch nearly every aspect of the physical and cultural environment ranging from unregulated development to passage of a true freedom of information act.

Save The Bays Youth Environment Ambassadors Study Paradise Cove’s Coral Reef Regeneration

On a recent Saturday, off a stretch of beach with sand so fine and waters so sparkling it  could be the iconic Instagram image, dozens of young Bahamians were hard at work.

Barry Smith, left, shows participants in Youth Environment Ambassadors how reef balls work to attract marine life. Smith is with Paradise Cove in Grand Bahama which spearheaded the island’s adopt-a-reef program. Hundreds of thousands of reef balls are deployed off the coasts of some 70 countries and are believed to be the best and most effective artificial reef design. Funding for the program also provides the means to dissect sections of endangered reefs and replant them in protected areas.

Barry Smith, left, shows participants in Youth Environment Ambassadors how reef balls work to attract marine life. Smith is with Paradise Cove in Grand Bahama which spearheaded the island’s adopt-a-reef program. Hundreds of thousands of reef balls are deployed off the coasts of some 70 countries and are believed to be the best and most effective artificial reef design. Funding for the program also provides the means to dissect sections of endangered reefs and replant them in protected areas.

Members of the Youth Environment Ambassadors (YEA), a program funded and operated by Save The Bays, were learning that sometimes what man takes away, humankind can make good again – they were witnessing that even with fragile coral reefs, there can be new life.

The YEA’s were learning about and observing the Reef Ball initiative at Paradise Cove Beach Resort, Grand Bahama. Reef balls, made of a highly porous concrete and silica, are the most effective design module for artificial reefs and provide a safe, eco-friendly home for sustainable marine life. Hundreds of thousands of reef balls, each capable of producing up to 500 pounds of biomass a year, are deployed in 70 countries, not only attracting marine life they were designed for, but the adoption programs funding the regrowth of endangered corals.

Barry Smith, who spearheads the Grand Bahama reef ball project, told the youth environment ambassadors that thanks to funding through the adopt-a-reef initiative, the local program has entered its second phase, rescuing and, where practical or feasible, replanting endangered reefs.

“This is all about coral rescue and replanting and requires harvesting imperiled coral that would be at risk of death within the next 12 months and planting them in a cement plug and transplanting the coral on the reef balls so that they can grow and flourish,” he said.

YEA Coordinator Rashema Ingraham said seeing something that faced destruction but could be saved and regenerated inspired hope on many levels.

“Over the past three years, the YEA program has exposed young Bahamians to the good, the bad and the ugly of the environment,” Ingraham said. “But of all the projects we have seen, studied or helped, the reef ball program is likely the most exciting because it demonstrates that even as we watch our own reefs get swallowed up by dredging that should never be allowed, or by careless anchoring by boaters or as reefs die off from natural causes, there is hope. We humans have a role to play in creating artificial reefs and funding removal of endangered reefs and replanting. It’s long, it’s tedious but it works and that is what is critical. Learning that you really can create a living artificial reef that attracts hundreds of marine animals and where they can thrive has to be the very top of the top of the good.”

The YEA program is so popular that the demand to participate far outweighs the number of spots available. Classes are held every other Saturday for four months with academics followed by field studies and hands-on experiences.

“Since its inception, the YEA program has opened the eyes of more than 200 young Bahamians. They have trekked through wetlands, studied industrial waste management, learned about renewable energy and spent hours exploring underwater life,” said Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville. “These young men and women have the awesome task of becoming the future stewards of our environment and this program has sensitized them to how delicate the balance is and what it will take to ensure the beauty and majesty of this country is preserved for future generations.”

Founded in 2013, Save The Bays has emerged as a leading voice in the protection of the environment and human rights through education, advocacy and legal action. The civil society organization has more than

Class Act – Youth Environment Ambassadors, a program funded and operated by Save The Bays, includes formal academics and hands-on experiences. YEAs meet every other Saturday for four months and those who qualify in knowledge and leadership at the end of each series graduate with a certificate in environmental stewardship.

Class Act – Youth Environment Ambassadors, a program funded and operated by Save The Bays, includes formal academics and hands-on experiences. YEAs meet every other Saturday for four months and those who qualify in knowledge and leadership at the end of each series graduate with a certificate in environmental stewardship.

20,000 Facebook friends and has amassed nearly 7,000 signatures on a complex petition calling for, among other items, comprehensive environmental protection legislation and an end to unregulated development. Its pressure for freedom of information contributed to the recent debate and passage of the Freedom of Information Act 2016 in the House of Assembly. The bill still faces debate in the Senate whose members are reportedly studying several amendments recommended by 21 civil society groups.

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