28,000+ Signatures Cry Out for Preservation of Lighthouse Point

I am a man and I cry. There, I have said it.

I cry for the inhumanity of human against human. I cry for all the parts and parcels of The Bahamas that Bahamians do not have access to.

Please, please do not make Lighthouse Point one of them.

Every time I learn of a little piece of this beautiful archipelago that is being developed without kind and gentle care for its future, I am torn between wanting to scream and shedding another tear.  Like others who support Save The Bays, I am not anti-development. But development must be done by with care by those who care. It must be sensitive to the environment and sustainable for the future. Its footprint must be acceptable.

At this moment in time, there is no area under more of a threat than Lighthouse Point and Lighthouse Beach in South Eleuthera. Disney Cruise Lines wants to buy either the 700-acre parcel or some substantial portion thereof to create a private destination for its passengers. I cannot blame Disney. Lighthouse Point is one of the most breathtaking places on the face of God’s green earth and that is only one reason why it must be preserved for Bahamians. It is also one of the highest elevations and with climate change and the accompanying sea level rise, researchers far wiser than I predict that many of our islands may be underwater in less than a century, making it even more critical to preserve key high elevation places for future generations.

Fifty, 80 or 100 years from now, our great grandchildren and theirs may be searching for high land or living on the sea. And where will Disney be then? Will it have abandoned its pretty little piece of paradise like Gold Rock did when it finished the Disney movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, and left structures to rust, like a diseased ghost town in Grand Bahama?

If you do not care about one senior citizen activist like me who wants to save Lighthouse Point, there are 28,382 other reasons, every one of them a person who cared enough to sign the petition as of 5 pm on September 17, 2018. It is the largest petition in Bahamas history so far as I can tell. Before this, Save The Bays had amassed the most signatures with more than 7,000 for a broad spectrum of environmental measures. Bahamians are not great petition signers. We would rather go on radio and talk or complain to anyone in general. But the children from a school in South Eleuthera who are leading part of Save Lighthouse Point drive and the crush of people signing every few seconds is jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring. Consider it relative to other drives. An oil pollution petition attracted 1,400 signatures, an anti-Oban Energies petition got 550 signatures. Save Lighthouse Point is at 28,000 and climbing.

28,000+ signatures – Mr. Prime Minister and those who we elected to represent us, hear the voices of those who penned that petition and do the right thing. Not because one old man does not want to shed another tear for another piece of The Bahamas that will be lost. There are plenty of places to create a cruise ship play area, including right across the harbour from where the ships dock in Nassau or in Grand Bahama. But not at Lighthouse Point. Please, Mr. Prime Minister, save Lighthouse Point for Bahamians and anyone who wants to visit and leave that craggy, rocky, green hills and white sand beaches canvas of Nature just as they found it, taking only memories of the beauty with them.

Joseph Darville, Chairman – Save The Bays

Save the Bays named partner by leading global nonprofit

Save the Bays named partner by leading global nonprofit

Affiliation will give local advocacy group access to funding from more than 1,200 environmentally conscious companies and individuals around the world

A reputation for fearless and groundbreaking environmental advocacy has led to Save the Bays being named an official partner of one of the world’s foremost environmental nonprofits – opening the door to funding and support from hundreds of environmentally conscious companies and individuals in more than 40 countries.

One Percent for the Planet is an extensive network of businesses that donate one percent of all profits directly to approved organisations that are addressing critical environmental issues. This partnership will trigger a host of benefits for STB, including visibility on the One Percent website, the ability to use One Percent branding, and connections with businesses around the world that may be interested in supporting the group’s work.

“This is huge,” said Rashema Ingraham, Outreach Coordinator for STB. “One Percent for the Planet is known and respected worldwide. The organisation’s network is extremely wide-ranging, its branding appears on millions of products and services, and 20 percent of all consumers in the United States recognise the logo.

“With this new partnership, STB can take its advocacy on behalf of the country’s precious natural resources to a whole new level. We plan to use the benefits of this affiliation to strengthen our Youth Environmental Ambassadors program, which has already reached thousands of local children; and to increase awareness of the urgent need for sustainable, property regulated development.”

One Percent’s nonprofit partners receive contributions from more than 1,200 member businesses and numerous private individuals in 48 countries around the world. Donors, in turn, have a trustworthy and accessible way to support the environment by donating to organisations such as STB which have been vetted and approved to receive funds.

Founded in 2002, it has already contributed more than $175 million to environmental preservation and the global network continues to grow all the time.

“This is really a game-changer for our organisation,” said STB President Joseph Darville. “We feel it is a just reward for the groundbreaking work we have done in recent years to combat unregulated development and raise awareness of the dangers to our delicate marine and terrestrial environment posed by the scourge of industrial pollution.

“We could not be more pleased to have been chosen for this honour and we thank One Percent for the Planet for recognising the integrity and legitimacy of our work.

Save The Bays Supports YMCA Learn to Swim SOS Program

Students of public and private schools in Grand Bahama learn to swim thanks to a grant from Save the Bays, the fast growing environmental movement, donated to the YMCA Learn to Swim SOS program.

Declaring it was proud to help impart lifesaving skills to children growing up on an island surrounded by water, the fast-growing environmental movement Save The Bays today presented a substantial grant to the YMCA SOS Learn to Swim program in Grand Bahama.

The contribution will pave the way for thousands of children to take an in-the-water course that could save lives.Some 13,000 pre-school and primary school students have already benefitted from the SOS (Swim for Ocean Survival) course, according to Grand Bahama YMCA Executive Director Karon Johnson, and this contribution will enable even more.“We can’t thank Save the Bays enough for seeing the importance of this program,” said Johnson. “The course is designed to teach kids to survive, first and foremost, in an underwater situation. As they get older we work to introduce them to opportunities provided by competitive swimming and thirdly, we want to them to have the skills to enjoy our marine environment so they don’t have a fear of the sea.”Overcoming fear and appreciating the beauty of the underwater world, said Save The Bays education officer and a director of the YMCA Joseph Darville, is one of the reasons Save The Bays selected the YMCA SOS program as its newest partner.

 

“It is with tremendous joy and satisfaction that I, on behalf of Save The Bays, present this grant to the Grand Bahama YMCA,” said Darville. “As Executive Program Vice-Chairman of the YMCA, I know firsthand the outstanding and unparalleled work this organization has done over the past 20 years in teaching thousands of our school children on Grand Bahama to swim. Additionally, over the past two years, the Anglican schools in Nassau have come on board and the program benefits their students as well. This is the only training course of its kind in The Bahamas.”

The SOS program runs twice a year, September through October and April through June, and caters to preschools and primary schools in Grand Bahama, private and public. Students are bused to the YMCA from school for hour long sessions.

The program was created to address the fact that despite that fact that The Bahamas is surrounded by water, many local children are unable to swim, partly because of a traditional fear of water-related accidents and partly because of the cost of swimming lessons.

“Thanks to companies, donors and organizations like Save The Bays we have been able to offer the program free of charge to the children of Grand Bahama,” said Johnson. Costs are also contained by part of the program falling within the Physical Education curriculum in schools.

“This is the only training course of its kind in The Bahamas, and we are extremely proud to be the body responsible for imparting lifesaving skills to multitudes of our children who live in an archipelagic nation,” says Darville. “This grant is indeed in line with the goal of the Save the Bays organization as it strives to conserve and preserve the beauty of these islands, terrestrial and marine and thus enable all children now and in the future to enjoy these islands both on land and in the sea.”

Since its launch in April, Save The Bays has gained more than 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for an environmental protection act, managed an awareness campaign that has opened the eyes of thousands to the delicate nature of the environment and formed partnerships with more than a dozen organisations with environmental interests and agendas.

Save The Bays Raises Alarm Over Treasure Cay Project North Abaco Chief Councilor Requests EIA

 

A surging environmentalist group is raising the alarm over what they call “yet another irresponsible construction project” in the Family Islands.

Following a recent tour of the Treasure Sands Club in Abaco, directors from Save The Bays expressed concern and dismay over dredging off a world-famous beach.

Treasure Cay, known for its pristine three miles of uninterrupted sand, has remained a point of pride for Abaconians. Save The Bays said Bahamians are expressing “deep pain” over the lack of transparency and dialogue by developers, a sentiment being echoed by local officials.

“We just want to know what the impact will be,” said Gary Smith, Chief Councilor for the North Abaco District. “We want to see an Environmental Impact Assessment performed by an independent, reputable company. We want to see the Environmental Management Plan written by Keith Bishop, Principal Engineer at Islands by Design, and we would like to see the extent of the plans that Treasure Sands has for this area.”

The development currently features a high-end club, pool, bar and restaurant experience, although plans are afoot to build a boutique hotel on the beach and docking facilities.

While Smith criticized the lack of transparency, he noted that the community is not against development. He urged both the developer and government to engage the public and follow the rules of public consultation before starting construction in a delicate ecosystem.

Joseph Darville, Bimini Waterkeeper and a director for Save The Bays, said the dredging may cause “irreparable damage” to the habitat of bonefish, tarpon, snappers, turtles, lobsters and a host of other marine species. Development could “drive away” wildlife, he said, and the area is bordered by fragile mangroves.

“They enter our midst, bearing the tokens of a few jobs for Bahamians, seductively hypnotizing and mesmerizing our leaders, in order to carry out their work of greed. All we ask for is responsible development, for people who appreciate and respect our Bahamian environment,” said Darville. “None of us owns this land or the seabed, not you, not me. Our land, our seabed is held in trust for future generations. How dare someone come in and destroy what is not theirs. Our beloved leaders must not allow this kind of rape and pillaging of our land to go on in the name of a few occasional jobs.”

Save The Bays’ protest in Abaco is the third major campaign against unregulated development for the growing environmental movement in recent months. In Bimini, Malaysian-based conglomerate Genting Group is moving ahead with a 1,000-foot pier to accommodate cruise ships from Florida in an effort to fuel a new mega project and Save The Bays has continued to agitate to make Clifton Park a protected marine area.

Similar to the issues that are being faced in Bimini, the Treasure Sands Club did not release a proper environmental impact assessment or an environmental management plan to the public and local residents were not consulted prior to the start of construction. Several of those residents along with a Save The Bays partner organization called Bimini Blue Coalition were outspoken, begging for information about what was planned for their small island. The Bimini EIA was eventually published on the BEST website after the two groups made repeated calls for it, including the Bahamas National Trust. When it was finally made available, it sparked grave concerns over the proposed development in proportion to the size of the island and even greater concerns over its impact on the environment.

Fred Smith, QC, a top attorney and another director for Save The Bays, noted “that activities in Treasure Cay are indicative of what is happening throughout the country.” Smith, who is also a partner at Callenders & Co, has pushed government for the promised Freedom of Information Act, which he feels would offer more transparency and accountability. “More than 5,000 people have signed a Save The Bays petition (www.savethebays.bs) urging passage of a Freedom of Information Act and an Environmental Protection Act,” he said and he called on central government to stop “ignoring the laws and casting aside the pleas of local officials.”

EARTHCARE and Biminites on Bimini proposed cruise ship terminal

EARTHCARE is very concerned by the revelations in the press regarding the development plans for Bimini.  Several Environmental Organizations have been trying to find out if there is an Environmental Impact Assessment completed for the proposed development.  The most recent entity to assume control of the former “Bimini Bay Resort”, the Genting Group, a Malaysian conglomerate has renamed the project, Resorts World Bimini.EARTHCARE is a proponent of Sustainable Development.  The proposed plans for the cruise ship terminal are not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination.  EARTHCARE Founder, Gail Woon said, “Who begins operating a cruise ship without a place to dock it, in place first?  The plans are to build the 1,000 foot long jetty along with a 6 acre island for a cruise ship terminal over a very sensitive ecological oceanic habitat.  The cruise ship is operating and the developer is in a hurry to have the terminal constructed.  In my mind, it is beyond belief to think that the authorities in charge of Bahamian resources would allow for endangered coral reefs to be for all intents and purposes destroyed.  We have seen video footage of the construction of the terminal in progress.  We need to see the Permits if this  construction has been approved.  If it has been approved, was it by Central Government or the Local Government in Bimini?  From our investigations, there have been no Town Meetings in Bimini to let the stakeholders, Biminites, know what the development plans are for their islands.  If there is an Environmental Impact Assessment done, why is it not posted on the BEST (Bahamas Environment Science and Technology) Commission website for all and sundry to peruse?”“We have seen the better plan for Bimini proposed by the Bimini Blue Coalition involving using smaller vessels that can dock at the existing Government Dock.  This would allow for the cruise ship passengers to experience the culture of Bimini.  This would give ground transportation professionals to be able to share a piece of the prosperity.  This would allow the cruise ship passengers to see the straw market and Museum.”

“There are also plans to revive the golf course that was taken off the table years ago due to concerns that the golf course would cause further unsustainable damage to valuable marine nursery areas.  This golf course would entail bulldozing even more acres of mangroves than the over 160 acres plus of healthy mangrove wetland nursery habitat that were already wantonly destroyed by the Bimini Bay Resort development.”  One Biminite observed, “Why don’t they play golf on the existing golf course on Cat Cay?  We don’t need a golf course on North Bimini!”

More Biminites speak

“It goes back to the fact that the island is too small to maintain such a big project, personally I’m a diver, so I know what the beauty is of the island and enjoying that aspect of it. I don’t’ see a cruise ship fitting on a port like this.” – Michael Prince

“I think it’s a destruction to the island.  We are a very tiny little island.  And they have made it into three times the size.  Thus we have all the pollution, all the trash, all the garbage which we can’t contend with in our little piece and they are making it even bigger now.” – Matt Weech

“This is the gateway to the Bahamas and we need our fish.  And it might mess up our fish industry.  We don’t really need noone to mess that up not because you bringing a couple dollars into our little island but our main industry is fishing.” – Sherry Pratt

“ Being the fact that my Father is a fisherman and he’s been a fisherman all his life, I think that will affect him and everyone else that goes out fishing.  If it comes in then it will take out all the fish and all the conch so we wouldn’t have nothing to really live off and to make money from.” – Fabrice Stuart

“ Well, as far as my livelihood goes, there is nothing is more important.  I make my living off the reefs and the fact of the matter is the construction of this pier is definitely going to damage it.  No matter how careful, or no matter how much mitigation they claim that they can do, regardless it is going to do a lot of destruction to the reefs out there.” – Neal Watson.

“We need to know what’s going on.  And we are not going to allow them to come and take over our Bimini.  This is our Bimini, OK, this is our Bimini, Bahamian, but Biminites first.  And that’s it. Alright.” – Lorick Roberts

The email contact for EARTHCARE is:  earthcare.bahamas@yahoo.com.

Bimini Blue Coalition Teams Up with Save The Bays in the Struggle to Protect Waters, Create ‘Sensible, Sustainable Tourism’

Save The Bays — the fast-growing organisation that is moving toward what appears to be a national environmental alliance — announced today it has gained yet another partner in its fight to protect the marine environment of The Bahamas. The Bimini Blue Coalition, formed in January 2013 to  lead the fight for the protection of Bimini’s reefs, beaches and waters, said today it is partnering with Save The Bays to ramp up its community outreach and enhance efforts as the organisations pursue similar goals.

“We are thrilled and honoured to partner with the Save The Bays team, and together we hope to protect and promote the famous reefs, beaches, and waters around our precious little ‘Islands in the Stream,’” said the Coalition that has already garnered over 1,500 signatures to stop construction of a cruise ship terminal. “Over the long term, the goals of the Bimini Blue Coalition for Bimini essentially echo the goals of the Save The Bays team throughout The Bahamas.  We’re trying to promote sensible, sustainable use of our island’s natural resources.”

Fred Smith, QC, a director of Save The Bays, believes the collaboration will prove fruitful with both organizations demonstrating passion in pushing for the preservation of marine resources.

“As Save The Bays continues to grow as an organisation and expand its mission to protect waters throughout The Bahamas, it is essential that we form strategic partnerships capable of extending our reach into already existing communities of active conservationists,” said Smith. “We were happy to partner with Bimini Blue Coalition given the level of dedication they have demonstrated in promoting the cause to protect Bimini’s natural habitat. The symbiotic relationship that we have formed will definitely bolster our intertwined objectives.”

According to Smith, Save The Bays — established in March 2013 and forming partnerships with dramatic speed — appears to be giving rise to a National Environmental Alliance.

“This is exciting and bodes well for our treasured environment,” he said.

The latest partner, Bimini Blue Coalition, is made up of Bimini residents, homeowners, community leaders and visitors working together to “keep Bimini’s waters the bluest in The Bahamas.” Its mission involves the promotion and creation of a sustainable future for the islands of Bimini, including the development of an ecologically-responsible tourism industry. Most recently, Bimini Blue Coalition’s efforts have focused on a petition drive that has garnered over 1,500 signatures in just over two weeks to stop the creation of a cruise ship terminal on North Bimini.

Joe Darville is shown the possible site of the Bimini Gofast Ferry, by local resident Al Sweeting.

The terminal is part of a $100 million investment by the Malaysia-based Genting conglomerate. Genting was recently denied permission to tear down the waterfront Miami Herald building in Miami to build a mega resort and casino. It has now turned its attention to Bimini just off the Miami coast  where it opened a casino on June 28 and plans to complete construction of the 1,000 foot cruise ship dock and dredge to create a man-made island. While the cruise ship terminal is estimated to attract up to 3,000 visitors a day to the shores of North Bimini, petition signers say that it will destroy what has been called “a massive concentration of precious coral reefs,” permanently changing the island’s most important asset — its waters.

“This is a blasphemy and is completely disproportionate,” said Smith. “Once again, as with Baker’s Bay in Guana Cay, our government is sacrificing our marine environment on the altar of the almighty dollar.” The partnership between the organizations is initially aimed at addressing two key issues facing the islands of Bimini, the proposed cruise ship terminal that would heavily impact the reefs, and the second is establishing final and full implementation of the North Bimini Marine Reserve.

Environmental Education Group EARTHCARE Brings 25 Years of Environmental Activism to Save The Bays

The rapidly-growing environmental movement, Save The Bays, gained more momentum today when a local group with 400 members and a history of grass roots activism joined the campaign.

“We are delighted to announce that yet another NGO, EARTHCARE, has joined Save The Bays,” said Fred Smith, QC, a director of Save The Bays. “When we initially proposed creating an independent non-profit organization that would be actively engaged in seeing that the coral reefs of Clifton Bay were rescued and restored to the majestic beauty that made them world famous, we got tremendous support. But the values that attracted supporters to Clifton Bay and the western bays were greater than a single body of water and the movement has been growing beyond our wildest expectations. It has mushroomed overnight, now reaching waters in Bimini, Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama.” The destruction to the Clifton Bay barrier reefs due to ongoing oil leaks and other development at Clifton’s industrial area wasn’t the only reason environmental education NGO EARTHCARE joined forces with Save The Bays in a nationwide effort to protect marine ecosystems, but it was certainly an accelerating factor, said its founder.

“We are particularly excited about the organization’s future plans for Bimini, which I have been involved with for years said Gail Woon, Founder and Executive Director of the educational organization. Woon recently received her Diploma in International Environmental Law from the United Nations Institute of Training and Research. “In joining with the Coalition, I hope to be able to utilize this new training in order to assist the group to have an Environmental Protection Act passed as well as a Freedom of Information Act.  EARTHCARE will continue our environmental education efforts on fisheries, habitat, water quality, pollution, invasive species, wetlands, and any topics that teachers need through our outreach efforts. We are excited to be a part of the team.”

EARTHCARE was formed in 1988 when Woon was asked by teachers to speak to their students on environmental issues affecting The Bahamas. Funded in part by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Foundation for the Caribbean and The Ocean Conservancy, a quarter of a century later, more than 400 members have signed up to volunteer by visiting schools to raise awareness about issues affecting the environment.

“Having EARTHCARE join our team opens the door to a whole new set of opportunities and objectives involving environmental education,” said Save The Bays Director Smith. “Gail Woon is a veteran environmentalist and her two-and-a-half decades of activism will surely strengthen the overall plans of our collaboration.”

EARTHCARE has been actively involved with International Coastal Cleanup Day for the past 25 years, was instrumental in the Coalition to Ban Longline Fishing in 1993, and has supported the Save Bimini project to minimize the impact of a mega-resort development on North Bimini among many other projects over the years. The organization’s efforts — including school visits to raise awareness  — helped in the overall effort that led to a ban on harvesting sea turtles in The Bahamas in September 2009.

EARTHCARE Joins with Save The Bays – Save The Bays, gained more momentum today when a local group with 400 members and a history of grass roots activism joined the campaign. Joseph Darville, Save The Bays Director; Gail Woon, Founder and Executive Director, EARTHCARE and Fred Smith, QC, Save The Bays Director