Dear Prime Minister Christie,
Save The Bays (STB) would hereby like to indicate its full support for the call by our civic partner, reEarth, for the immediate closure of the Blackbeard’s Cay development on Balmoral Island.
The Supreme Court has ruled emphatically that the facilitywas constructed in breach of the law and ordered that it be closed and the marine mammals housed there be removed immediately. STB therefore considers its continued operation to constitute an affront to the authority of the judiciary and a blow to respect for the rule of law as enshrined in the Bahamas Constitution.
In January of this year, the developer, Blue Illusions limited, was found by the court to have proceeded in the absence of necessary permits and approvals. The company’s dolphin import licenses and the site plan approval granted by the Town Planning committee were also quashed and it was ordered that the land be returned to its original use and condition.
To date, none of this has happened. Indeed, we understand that in defiance of the order, Blackbeard’s Cay continues to operate and market itself to cruise passengers stopping in The Bahamas.
This high profile flouting of the law could have serious implications for the good name of The Bahamas abroad, as reEarth has rightly pointed out. Aside from the increasing global opposition to marine mammal captivity, the abysmal handling of this matter has raised alarming questions about the state of governance in a country that depends on a reputation for stability and adherence to the law for its survival.
Reputable foreign investors seeking to undertake projects that have the potential to create considerable financial and employment opportunities for this country will no doubt be turned off by the impression that The Bahamas has become a ‘wild west’ where the rule of law means little to nothing in practice.
At the same time, a failure on your part to treat the court’s order with the respect it deserves will only signal to those wishing to engage in unregulated development, to the detriment of the interests of The Bahamian people, that the government has effectively given them a green light to do as they please.
STB has repeatedly spoken out against foreign developers engaging in unregulated development, damaging our environmental heritage and defying of our sovereign laws in the process. We call upon the government of The Bahamas, as the defender and guarantor of the public’s rights – and particularly on you, prime minister, who serves as the custodian of the nation’s patrimony – to take action on this matter immediately.
If the status quo persists, in due course, we intend to bring our concerns to the attention of the cruise ship industry, whose members would no doubt be considerably alarmed to learn that they may be contributing to a facility that has been deemed unlawful by the courts. We urge you to intervene and ensure that the law takes its course before such a step becomes necessary.
CEO, Save The Bays