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Posted by:Oct 21st 2003, 03:08:17 pm
Fig Tree News TeamBahamas news - complete Bahamian news portal - - Commentary
The Grouper Needs a Proper Breeding Season - October 20, 2003 - 21:21
An American friend who read the poaching article last week said he was sorry that I was becoming gloomy in my old age. Was there no light at the end of the tunnel?

I explained that I was being more than usually pessimistic on purpose, in the hope that the powers that be would begin to take the preservation of our marine resources seriously before it was too late.

I told him that the grouper will aggregate to breed under the full moon for the first time this year on November 9. I said I had heard that a proposal for some sort of protection existed, but evidently Cabinet were leaving it to the very last minute before acting. I had no idea whether it would do so in time.

It is always darkest before dawn they say. Half an hour after that conversation two people whom I trust assured me that the grouper season was going to be debated in Cabinet on Tuesday, October 21 at noon. So I am feeling guardedly optimistic for a change.

Dr Marshall the Bahamian scientist and world class fisheries management expert who is now working in the Office of the Prime Minister kindly asked me to go along with him and make my case for an immediate three-month season. Unfortunately, I will be away next week, so I wrote him a letter instead, saying more formally what I have written below.

The case for a closed season, like the one we have had for crawfish for decades, is very simple. Since Joseph taught Pharaoh and the Egyptians good husbandry there has been a taboo on land against "eating the seed corn". In our over-populated modern world we must apply the wisdom of the ages at sea as well.

If you kill the fish when they gather together to breed and are easiest to catch, sooner or later you will lose the lot. It has happened to our neighbours and it will certainly happen here if they are not protected.

No one knows for sure how many grouper we have left today. We must make sure that every mature fish gets to make more grouper! A season from 1 November to 1 February every year would cover their breeding period.

If we close the season for only one or two of the breeding months, we cannot be sure that we will be protecting the best or even most of the mature fish. Maybe the same grouper spawn at each of the three full moons in the season, if they are not caught. Maybe they only spawn in their birth month. Maybe it varies. We just do not know.

So the only way we can be sure that every mature grouper remaining in our waters will get to spawn in peace is to close the season for the whole three months.

To be honest, anything is better than nothing. A partial closure is better than none at all, although personally I think a partial closure just might backfire.

When you shorten a season rather than closing it completely you concentrate the fishing pressure into a shorter period, increasing the pressure on the fish and coincidentally tempting fishermen to take bigger risks.

They could be tempted to put to sea in spite of bad weather that would normally keep them in port. The divers might be tempted to risk their lives even more than at present, by going far too deep.

I am a hundred per cent sure that the right answer is to close the season and compensate the fishermen as much as possible by hiring them and their boats to go out and mount guard on the spawning aggregations to protect them against foreign poachers.

If at the same time, they can collect some data on the numbers of breeding fish without disturbing them, so much the better. BREEF and the Bahamas National Trust collected about $20,000 last April at our Save the Grouper party. We will give this money to start such a scheme this November, if the government puts the protection in place.

So, if you agree with this proposal, now is your chance to be a Guardian of the Sea and light up those phones. You have until noon Tuesday.

Editorial, The Nassau Guardian [WM]
Posted by:Oct 8th 2003, 05:17:15 pm
chapelCracking the conch crisis

Listening to my great uncle tell tales of the Bahamas 50 years ago captured my imagination and prompted me to run to Arawak Cay for a bowl of conch salad. My uncle speaks of sailing in Montague Bay and seeing the seagrass beds under his boat covered with conch. Now he tells me that it is rare to find a conch there.

I have heard this same story throughout the country. The previous generation of fishermen will tell you that they would go out sculling in a wooden boat without an engine and pick up conch with a hook on a long pole. Or just walk along the shore and find plenty.

Reverend Arthur Brown speaks about his experiences conch fishing around Eleuthera: "They'd go in the bay and meet conch as big as they want — crawling on the bay — didn't have to touch the water. Right now they have to go miles to get a dozen conch".

Fishermen are worried, and rightly so. Their livelihood is at stake. Our fishery and a critical part of our culture are threatened. "They used to say conch would never run out-but that is just how much there used to be.

Now they runnin' out fast," said another fisherman from South Eleuthera.

We have been eating conch for generations, and I can still go down to Potter's Cay and buy a conch salad. On the surface, nothing has changed, but the problem is below the waves. Fishermen have to go further and deeper to catch conch. Much of the conch that we eat comes from the southern Bahamas

since now conch is scarce in the central and northern Bahamas. These new fishing grounds will tide us over for a while, but there is not an endless supply.

Conch is commercially extinct throughout most of the Caribbean. Habitat destruction may play a role in their decreasing numbers, but overfishing is the main cause of this drastic decline. In the past few decades, intense fishing pressure had led to the collapse of the conch fishery in many Caribbean countries. This has resulted in the temporary or permanent closure of the conch fishery in Cuba, Florida, Bermuda, the Netherlands Antilles, Colombia, Mexico, the Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

There are two clear warning signs that we are depleting our Bahamian conch fishery. Firstly, we have to go further to find conch now that the near-shore fishery has been depleted. There are numerous reports of people using hookahs to catch conch in areas that were once natural refuges since the animals were too deep to be caught. Secondly, although it is illegal to catch immature conch (the "rollers" that do not yet have a flared lip), an increasing proportion of the conch now landed are juveniles.

These "rollers" have not yet had a chance to reproduce. In some parts of the northern Bahamas up to 90 per cent of the conch landed are juveniles. Students in South Eleuthera studied old and new piles of conch shells. They found that in the piles at least 10 years old 5 per cent of the conch were juveniles, while of the conch caught today, 95 per cent are juveniles. Catching conch before they have reproduced threatens the sustainability of our resource for the future, and it threatens the livelihoods of the fishermen who depend on it.

Most fishermen know that it is illegal to catch the "roller" conch but they continue to do so because there is insufficient law enforcement. Fishermen are calling for more enforcement of these laws that protect their common resource. Let's listen to them.

We need to heed the warning signs and take action to ensure that our conch does not become commercially extinct, as it already has throughout much of the Caribbean. Let us learn from the mistakes of our neighbours and decide not to make the same ones here.

Conch were fished heavily in Florida, until there were very few left. In 1986 a complete ban on harvesting conch was implemented. This ban is still in place, and since then there has been only very limited recovery of the stock.

What the Floridians learned was that once the density of conch in a certain area becomes very low, they do not reproduce. We are approaching this threshold here in the Bahamas, and this is something that we should all be concerned about. Conch populations do not easily recover from low levels.

Management is only successful if it is put in place while populations are still healthy. We should not wait until we have no conch; we must act now.

What is to be done? In the Exuma Land and Sea Park where no fishing is allowed, conch density is much higher than outside the park. There is more conch reproduction in the park than outside it.

Conch larvae float with the ocean currents for about a month before settling in seagrass beds. There is considerable flow of conch larvae, juveniles and adults from inside the park where the conchs were hatched, into areas outside the park where they can be caught by fishermen.

Our new network of marine reserves will provide a source of conch for areas outside the reserves, and we must put these Reserves in place as quickly as possible.

The conch is listed as a threatened species by CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species). In many parts of our country, conch populations are already at or below the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council's definition of overfished.

We need stronger enforcement of our current laws regarding harvesting conch, and we should reassess the amount of conch that we export from The Bahamas.

Our Bahamian conch is not something that we can afford to loose.
Casuarina McKinney is the executive director of the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation. She has a degree in marine biology and environmental science and policy from Duke University. She is originally from Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera. For more information: (

Posted Wednesday October 8, 2003
Posted by:Jun 19th 2003, 12:03:12 pm
KimberlyWe need your immediate support as we go to trial in a case that is critical to
the future of marine mammals on this planet. Less than two weeks from now, NRDC
litigators will face off against the Bush administration in federal court, with
the safety of entire populations of whales and dolphins at risk.

This long-awaited courtroom battle is the culmination of our eight-year
campaign to stop the U.S. Navy from illegally deploying its Low Frequency
Active (LFA) sonar system -- a new technology that blasts ocean habitats with
noise so intense it can maim, deafen and even kill marine mammals.

I hope you'll go to right now to
make an online emergency contribution in support of this historic case.

What's at stake? Consider: last year, the Bush administration issued the Navy a
permit to deploy LFA sonar over 75 percent of the world's oceans and to harass
or injure up to 12 percent of every single marine mammal species found anywhere
in this vast expanse of ocean!

But before that disaster could unfold, your support enabled NRDC to race to
court last fall and win a dramatic eleventh-hour reprieve for thousands of
whales and dolphins. A federal judge blocked global deployment of the sonar
system until a full trial could be held and all the evidence heard.

That all-important proceeding will begin on June 30th. It will determine
whether this dangerous technology is finally unleashed upon our planet's
oceans -- or whether it should be permanently blocked until the Navy obeys the
law and demonstrates that LFA would not cause serious harm to ocean life.

Scientists are warning that LFA sonar may threaten the very survival of entire
populations of whales, some already teetering on the brink of extinction. At
close range, the system's shock waves are so intense they can destroy a whale's
eardrums, cause its lungs to hemorrhage, and even kill.

Further away, LFA noise can cause permanent hearing loss in marine mammals
after a single transmission. At 40 miles away, LFA noise is still so intense it
can disrupt the mating, feeding, nursing and other essential activities of
marine mammals.

Two years ago, the mere testing of high-intensity Navy sonar in mid-frequency
range caused a mass stranding of whales in the Bahamas. Whales from at least
three different species died, their inner ears bleeding from the explosive
power of the sonar signal.

Just last month, a group of biologists off the coast of Washington state
witnessed a "stampede" of distressed marine mammals as a U.S. destroyer,
operating a powerful mid-frequency sonar system, passed through. Over the next
several days, ten porpoises were discovered stranded on nearby beaches.

And the dangers go beyond marine mammals. In preparing for the upcoming trial,
NRDC has uncovered the shocking results of the Navy's own LFA research on human
scuba divers. One Navy test subject was exposed to 14 minutes of LFA noise at
160 decibels -- far below the level of 235 decibels at which the actual LFA
system will be operating. The diver experienced uncontrollable shaking in his
limbs and lapsed into a seizure-like state that recurred periodically for days.
The Navy's report described him as a "casualty."

The Bush administration wants us to believe that the impacts of LFA will be
negligible! Launching a massive acoustic assault on the world's oceans is not
negligible. Threatening communities of whales, dolphins and humans with injury
and death is not negligible.

The Bush administration's position on LFA is arrogant, inhumane and, almost
certainly, illegal. But we cannot stop the deployment of this technological
menace unless we have the financial resources to fight this courtroom battle to
the very end and win a permanent ban.

Again, I urge you to help by going to right now and making an online
emergency contribution.

With your help, we can make sure that no more whales have to suffer and die
from high-power sonar. Let me know you'll stand with us at this critical moment
in the fight to protect all ocean life. Thank you.

John H. Adams
Natural Resources Defense Council
Posted by:Jun 13th 2003, 10:39:15 pm
strokeman69We are all Bahamians and need to do our part in preventing bad fishing habits in the HI area and in the Bahamas.HI is a small community which means somebody knows what the other person does.We can't depend on the government for everything.Lets not be afraid of reporting persons who use illegal fishing methods.As long as you see it something can be done about it.Don't let a few fisherman wannabes spoil fishing for Brilanders and our thousands of visitors each year.
Posted by:Jun 5th 2003, 01:53:16 pm
Fig Tree News TeamFrom this week's Bahama Journal, online at

Irate Fishermen Speak
Out On Poaching

The problem of fishermen poaching in Bahamian waters is one that has angered many local fishermen for years.

Now, some of them are speaking out on the issue - again - this time threatening to take matters into their own hands, even if they have to take up arms to do so.

According to local fisherman, Eddie Bannister, despite repeated calls to authorities to address the issue, there is still no resolution to the matter.

"Things have gotten a lot worse recently," Mr. Bannister told the Bahama Journal Tuesday. "The Dominicans are now venturing into the Cochinas Bank, anchoring themselves right on the side of us and stay as long as they wish. At the end of the day they take all of our products back home. And we have no help from the government."

Said to be one of the better fishing spots years ago, the Cochinas Bank now offers little for fishermen hoping to bring home a hefty catch, according to Godfrey Lundy, who has been a fisherman for the past eight years.

"These are men who use 70 to 80 footer boats, each with 13 dinghies," Mr. Lundy said. "Each dinghy has two divers and an operator. They scour the bottom of the ocean and take whatever they see. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as if anything is going to change."

According to Keith Carroll, Captain of the "Julieann", the problem is further exacerbated when one considers that poachers usually comb prime fishing areas throughout the entire year, despite seasonal regulations for the industry.
"This is a very serious problem," Mr. Carroll said. "These guys poach all year round. The season never closes for them. They are scavengers. What's worse, we can no longer sleep on our boats at night, simply because these people run Bahamian fishermen out of their own waters. In fact, six months ago, they did the very same thing to my brother."

The fishing industry has been a lucrative business in The Bahamas for many years, with some local fishermen boasting an impressive income of some $300,000 during the first two weeks of the crawfish season in August.

Deputy Director of the Department of Fisheries, Edison Deleveaux said Tuesday that the 2002/2003-lobster season has been the most profitable over the past four years.

"We have gotten reports that after only three weeks at sea, some vessels have brought in around 50,000 to 60,000 pounds of lobster, which last lobster season was sold anywhere from $9.50 per pound," Mr. Deleveaux said.

Poachers, however, reportedly take home a much heftier bundle after selling their catch to the US market.

It is an issue that they say they are not willing to ignore much longer, having reported it on numerous occasions to the relevant authorities to no avail.

"The continuous response from the Defence Force is that they usually don't have any boats and no fuel, which is a bad thing," Mr. Bannister said. "But things can get very bad and if they happen to get into our hands, there's going to be a war."

Mr. Carroll added, "I call the Defence Force every day and nothing has happened. But now we are going to arm ourselves with high powered rifles and if need be, use it."

Owner of the Mama Doo fishing vessel, Derek Bastian, however, suggests the government grant some of the poachers work permits, a move that would assure that some of the money gained, remains in the country.

In an interview with the Bahama Journal Tuesday, Mr. Deleveaux reassured fishermen that all complaints to his department are passed on and investigated by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

He pointed out, however, that some complaints are not reported to the Department of Fisheries in a timely fashion, which poses a problem.

In these instances, he said, poachers may have already abandoned the area.
Some fishermen have alleged that this is particularly the case as some Defence Force officers work "hand in hand" with poachers.

But it is a charge that Commander Raymond Farquharson could not verify.

"I would hope not, but this could also very well be the case with the fishermen as well because some of them have foreigners employed on their vessels," he said. "Obviously, this is something we must look into."

The Commander reaffirmed, however, that Defence Force officers often patrol the Bahama Bank, but they receive no credit for their efforts.
At the same time, he pointed out that it is no secret that the Defence Force can use more to assist in their efforts.
Posted by:Jun 3rd 2003, 12:00:39 pm
Fig Tree News TeamNews & Information
June 03, 2003 - 08:30
Nassau Guardian

Poachers 'Threatening' Bahamian Fishermen

If the poachers are not stopped Bahamian seafood resources would be diminished, as in the waters around Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Dominican poachers are not only depleting Bahamian fishing resources, but also threatening local fishermen in the process, according to reports. On one occasion, Kendall Carroll of the fishing vessel, "My Patricia", told the Guardian recently, a 70- to 80-foot vessel, identified as "Mamchao", tried to ram his boat.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force has so far provided little assistance, Mr. Carroll complained, advising that most of the illegal activity takes place in the area of the Great Bahama Bank.

He showed the Guardian a copy of a letter which he said he wrote to the RBDF in April 2002, complaining about being attacked by crewmen of a Dominican fishing vessel.
The attack has left him uneasy and in "fear," because nothing has been done, he said.

Director of Fisheries, Michael Braynen, said that the department has received other complaints about Dominican fishermen, similar to those reported by Mr. Carroll.

"The problem is as he has stated," he confirmed. "We get reports, they are passed on to law enforcement agencies, but we have no capability to police those parts of The Bahamas."

All reports are passed on to the Defence Force, Mr. Braynen said, and, "The action that they take is whatever they are able to do."

He agreed that regulations needed to be enforced and the poachers removed.

Fisherman Carroll told the Guardian also that earlier this year his cousin was fishing in the area of Santo Domingo Cay, but, "My cousin was run from the area."
Nowadays, he said, he goes fishing with two or three boats, or two or three persons onboard his boat, and keeps in contact with persons ashore. "If they could do this, what they could do, when we sleeping?" he queried.

After the attempted ramming by the "Mamchao", Mr. Carroll said, the U.S. Coast Guard was notified and came to the area to ensure that everything was all right.
He said that although the crawfish season, which runs from August to March, is presently closed, Dominican poachers are not only harvesting the crustaceans, but everything else in the area as well.

"They go to the bottom, and they break out the conch from the shell at the bottom of the ocean and it is destroying the area," Carroll said, adding that he had personally witnessed the illegal activity.

By the time the Defence Force arrived, the vessels were gone, he said, but found it "rather strange" that they returned after the Defence Force officers had left.

"About two weeks ago, four of those vessels were seen by the motor vessels, "Freedom" and the "Caribbean Lady," he said. "Each boat, had about 25 to 30 dinghies, being over 100 feet in length.

"These boats would be in the area, we could hear them on the VHF (Very High Frequency) radio; they anchor on the Bank, but as soon as we notify the Defence Force to come in the area, they can't find them. But if we stay in the area for about four or five days, they return to the area fishing, diving, and doing everything they want," he said.

He also questioned how often the Defence Force had arrested persons for poaching. "Every month you go out there, you could see three to four boats out there and they can't catch them. It's puzzling," he said.
Bahamian fishermen are regulated in terms of the season, but nothing is done to regulate the poachers. "Their seasons never close," he said.
Usually, he continued, when they are diving for crawfish around the Great Bahama Bank there is not much fishing going on; so when the season closes, they expect to have a good catch.

Carroll said the area is able to replenish itself, during the time they dive. "But when they come in and rape the ground, when we go into that area to fish after the season closes, there is nothing," he said. The fisherman said that for a while he noticed a slowdown in the catch, but he had just realized the reason why.

"Something has to be done," he stressed, noting that the area around the Bank is usually "a good fishing ground, but not anymore because they have it killed out."

The catch is no longer of a "good size and the catch were slow," he said. "They are raping the area, taking everything, they don't size their catch."

He said that it was also being advocated that grouper fishing be prohibited during the spawning season, but if the poachers are not dealt with, the groupers could be depleted as well.

"Right now all the Bahamian boats are in, because we only do pot fishing," he said, but "Who will stop them from doing it."

Samuel Carroll, captain of the commercial fishing vessel 'Caribbean Lady,' said he had also been attacked by Dominican poachers.

"While most Bahamian fishermen are busy preserving the industry, inconsiderate poachers are taking advantage," while Bahamian fishermen spend "time with their families," and allow the areas they fish to be replenished, he said.
If the poachers are not stopped, he stated, Bahamian seafood resources would be diminished, as in the waters around Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which are just about depleted.

"A lot has to be addressed," he said.

By Jimenita Swain, The Nassau Guardian
Posted by:Apr 10th 2003, 06:36:10 pm
Fig Tree News TeamCoral reefs are among the most biologically diverse communities on the planet. And yet none is more in danger of perishing in our lifetimes. Threats such as over-fishing, coastal development and rising sea temperatures caused by global warming are decimating sensitive corals and shredding the web of life they support. According to the United Nations’ Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, 10% of the world’s reefs have died in the past 4 years, and nearly a quarter are sick and suffering. More than half of the remaining reefs are seriously threatened, and scientists estimate that if today’s trends continue, corals may vanish entirely within the next 40 years.

Fortunately, there is a growing global effort by concerned individuals, non-profit organizations, and some governments dedicated to reversing this decline and to finding new and sustainable solutions for managing the world’s coral reefs. For those interested in learning more about how to support coral reef conservation efforts, the following list offers links to organizations that are working hard to ensure that coral reefs remain a vital ecosystem for generations to come. Your support will help them carry on with their important work and help preserve the natural balance of our marine ecosystems.

Reef Check

One group working to protect coral reef ecosystems around the world is MacGillivray Freeman Film’s education partner Reef Check. An international non-profit organization, Reef Check has volunteers all over the world working with business sectors such as tourism, diving, surfing and the marine aquarium trade, to develop mutually beneficial solutions that restore and maintain coral reef health, including the creation of self-funding Marine Protected Areas. To find out more or to get involved, visit

Other Organizations and Resources
Related Websites
You can join the fight to save coral reef ecosystems by supporting the Project AWARE Foundation's Protect the Living Reef campaign. The Project AWARE Foundation, established by PADI, is the dive industry's leading non-profit organization dedicated to conserving and preserving our aquatic resources. For more information on what you can do to save coral reefs, go to . . . Marine Aquarium Council, a regulatory group whose mission is to conserve coral reefs and other marine ecosystems by creating standards and certification for those engaged in the collection and care of ornamental marine life from reef to aquarium. . . . The Coral Reef Alliance, a member-supported, non-profit organization, dedicated to keeping coral reefs alive around the world, offers news and a comprehensive listing of Non-government organizations (NGO’s) involved in global reef conservation worldwide. . . . REEF, another survey organization like Reef Check.
Posted by:Apr 9th 2003, 12:19:33 pm
Fig Tree News TeamWednesday, April 9, 2003
The Bahama Journal

PLPs Taking a Hands On Approach To Government

First, it was [Minister of Labour] Ron Pinder working for a day as a sanitation engineer to get the feel of how difficult that job really is. Now, Keod Smith of the BEST Commission [the Bahamas' version of the Environmental Agency] is taking diving lessons so he can experience, up close and personal, the coral reefs he is empowered to save.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Pinder worked side-by-side with workers on a garbage truck, picking up resident's trash and placing it into the back of the truck. He said he learned a lot about some of the problems the workers faced and gained a whole new appreciation for their occupation.

Mr. Smith said in addition to being committed to protecting and exploring the environment, he wants to demonstrate his commitment to becoming "one" with the marine environment. Kudos to these two politicians who are leading by getting involved and setting good examples.
Posted by:Feb 25th 2003, 10:27:37 pm
Fig Tree News TeamFrom the Eleuthera Advocate, published online at, Eleuthera link:

PM visits Island School

On Friday February 7th The Prime Minister of the Bahamas Right Honourable Perry G. Christie addressed a special gathering dedicated to pursuing sustainable development strategies for The Bahamas. He joined scientists, energy experts, educators, and architects from The Bahamas and abroad at Cape Eleuthera to launch a new institute. "I want this school to continue to emphasize environmentally safe practices," the Prime Minister said "and to lift for public appreciation the need for conservation, information and education of why we should preserve this beauty, this pristine environment for future generations of Bahamians and persons who will come here to share it with us."

In several key ways, this educational process is happening already, and is ready to be extended to benefit a wider audience in The Bahamas. In the last 4 years, education programmes with high school students have linked US visitors with Bahamians. Also, The Deep Creek Middle School offers young Bahamians a high level of rigor and attention from teachers in between primary school and high school.
On the research front, marine investigations at Cape Eleuthera have included data collection on important Bahamian fisheries, including conch, crawfish, and grouper. Sustainable systems are already in place at The Island School to support these educational and research projects, including electrical power generation from largest array of solar panels in The Bahamas and a wind generator. Delegates to the conference saw in action an ecological wastewater treatment project, biodiesel fuel production using waste vegetable oil, rainwater catchement, and numerous other resource recovery, energy efficiency and green architecture innovations in place at the school during the conference.

The distinguished guests included Minister of Tourism the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, Senator the Hon. Trevor Whylly, Ambassador for the Environment, H.E. Keod Smith, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries the Hon. V. Alfred Gray, and Hon. Speaker of the House J. Oswald Ingraham who gathered for the launching of the newly established Cape Eleuthera Institute. The US Ambassador to The Bahamas J. Richard Blankenship remarked at the event: "We are here to acknowledge the accomplishments of a unique project that is linking young people from The Bahamas with the young people of America....It is by this kind of exposure that cultures, values, histories, and true understandings arise."

Mrs. Angela Cleare, Director of Eco-tourism, said: "The Sustainable Development Forum was excellent. It far exceeded my expectations. Apart from the organized activities, the networking opportunities were tremendous. I returned to Nassau loaded with ideas and documents."

"We have taken renewable resources: water, soil, air, and made them non-renewable by treating them as non-renewable" said the leading energy expert Dr. Amory Lovins, co-author of the book Natural Capitalism. "By making efficient use of the abundant free natural resources here in The Bahamas, like the sun and the wind, this country can begin the process of becoming more self-sufficient."

Dr. John Todd and Nancy Jack Todd of Ocean Arks shared their experience and ideas about harnessing natural ecological systems to deal with wastewater. Dr. David Orr from Oberlin College in Ohio spoke rousingly and inspirationally about the role of education in advancing our society and addressing important issues in sustainable development. "We need to accelerate the movement of young people into positions of being leaders, and one of the very exciting things here is to see this happening at The Island School."

The Cape Eleuthera Institute is being started by a group of teachers at a semester-abroad program called The Island School. "Here at The Island School, we have acted on several simple ideas that have been good for the environment" says Island School Director and co-founder of the Institute Chris Maxey. "We make some of our electricity with solar panels and a wind generator. Our wastewater is food for plants; it's safe and unlike traditional septic systems, it doesn't pollute the groundwater. We are growing some of our own food, and experimenting with fish farming. We are building structures with local techniques and materials. And these technologies help in part to deliver a transformative personal growth experience for young people" said Director Maxey.

As a testament to the personal connections students forged between Bahamians and Americans, Prime Minister Christie told the story of his seeing American students at the airport leaving after three months at Cape Eleuthera. "I saw a black woman from Eleuthera bidding them farewell. And I saw the white American 16 year olds, with moments of great remorse, carefully embracing her, and telling her 'Bye'. And captured in that moment, was that young people come in from abroad, and here... their race means nothing. This school and its setting,. and its philosophy, contributes directly to the upliftment of the people who pass through it, American, and Bahamian" said Prime Minister Christie. "It led me to the conclusion that we must support this school and encourage its connections with institutions in our country. So you can see how truly impressed I am really, when I came here and witnessed how strongly the College of The Bahamas (COB) is represented, because it is that kind of institutional conection that will further strengthen the meaning the presence of this school here on Eleuthera and in The Bahamas, and at the same time benefit The College of The Bahamas." Dr. Leon Higgs, President of COB led a delegation that included 3 others from the college and served on a panel to address future initiatives and directions for the institute.

Dr. Ruth Sumner, Dean of the Teachers College at COB said: "It was a wonderful and changing experience for me. I'm so happy that I was able to attend.I felt blessed to be among persons who were so willing to listen, share, and give such sound advice."
Jack Kenworthy, Director of Sustainable Systems and co-founder of the institute, has led the initiative to produce biodiesel, a fuel made from used vegetable oil. "No petroleum is found here in The Bahamas. This biodiesel fuel is cheap, available, it can be used in any diesel engine, and it's just one example of applied self-sufficiency" Kenworthy says. "Through this new institute, we can share and apply these ideas."
Local conservation groups were active and present, including Abaco and Nassau based foundations. "The basic scientific research that the Cape Eleuthera Institute is supporting is vital to making sure we have fisheries in the future" says Casuarina McKinney, Executive Director of the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF). "Basic marine research needs to inform policy. The Island School and the new institute are positioned to do that in a way that involves the local schools and community."

"I once heard that the biggest mistake is made by someone who does nothing at all because he could only do something small'" said Christian Henry, Associate Director of The Island School and co-founder of the new institute. "We are doing something important, and beneficial, so if it's small, that's fine. We have the leaders in government here with some of the most influential thinkers of our day sharing ideas and designing an institute that will implement practical and useful projects here in The Bahamas. It's inspiring."
Posted by:Feb 7th 2003, 02:39:42 pm
KimberlyNassau Guardian editorial
February 07, 2003 - 08:53
Grouper Loss - Economic And Culinary Disaster

The current government seems to have lost interest in the matter altogether, despite being elected on a strong environmental platform.

According to most scientists, the Nassau Grouper's days are numbered.

Fished to commercial extinction elsewhere in the region, the grouper survives only in The Bahamas in quantities sufficient to fill our plates and stew pots. Besides overfishing by Bahamians, the grouper must evade extensive poaching by Dominicans and Cubans, who keep their hotels and restaurants illegally supplied with our favourite seafood.

In 1997, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation began a campaign to save the grouper. Led by a transplanted Briton named Nicholas Nuttall, this little group has educated hundreds of Bahamian schoolteachers, commissioned important fishery studies and lobbied incessantly for the establishment of marine protected areas as the only way to reverse the decline of our fishery resources.

The principle of marine reserves as an effective conservation measure was pioneered by New Zealander Dr. Bill Ballantine, who visited Andros in 1997 at BREEF's invitation. In 1998, the group sponsored a workshop to discuss the creation of a network of reserves throughout The Bahamas. In 1998 BREEF sponsored the proposal of several marine reserve networks. The proposal was submitted to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Minister appointed a panel of experts to evaluate 39 proposed sites. The Department of Fisheries supervised an independent, external panel of experts to evaluate the scientific merit of the proposed marine reserves. He personally instructed the panel to review the benefits of 'no take reserves', develop criteria to evaluate proposed reserves and produce a prioritized list of reserve sites. They judged 14 priority sites evenly distributed throughout the country to be the bare minimum for a functional network of marine reserves.

Though the former government later designated five marine protected areas and identified eight others, these good intentions have yet to be legally implemented. And the current government seems to have lost interest in the matter altogether, despite being elected on a strong environmental platform.

In 1997, 1.4 million pounds of grouper were landed in The Bahamas. In 1999, the catch was 1.3 million pounds and, in 2001, it was only 457,000 pounds. Clearly, grouper stocks are collapsing, and one of the big reasons is the overfishing of spawning aggregations, which is going on right now all around the country. To breed, grouper populations congregate at specific times and locations, which makes them highly vulnerable.

In the 1999-2000 grouper spawning season, the government banned fishing at aggregations off Andros and Long Island. This ban was enforced. But since then the fisheries-protection policy has lapsed, despite a declaration last year from new Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Alfred Grey that spawning aggregations would continue to be protected.

Food and nutrition aside, the demise of the Nassau grouper would be a huge social and cultural loss to the Bahamian people.

Editorial, The Nassau Guardian
Posted by:Feb 5th 2003, 01:22:59 pm
Fig Tree News TeamThe Nassau Guardian
Wednesday, February 5, 2003

No marks for environmentalism


Whatever other criticism it may have deservedly drawn, the former government acquitted itself well on environmental matters. The government of the day needs to move forward, taking up that mantle, building on the work already completed.

From the launching of the Bahamas Environment Science Technology Commission, through the establishment of the Yellow Elder National Park, the revitalization of the Goodman's Bay grounds and the initiation of the Nassau Grouper spawning aggregation no-fish zones and other fishing reserves, the Ingraham administration did well.
One cannot help but notice, however, that the December and January Grouper spawning aggregations were not announced this season by renewing the no-take zones.

One has to question the lack of environmental initiatives and encourage those in authority to move, post-haste to make up for time lost.

What of the National Environmental Policy Guidelines, Environmental Legislation and regulations and The Bahamas Environmental Handbook that were produced and circulated widely in schools, NGOs and businesses prior to May, 2002?

Sir Nicholas Nuttal, founder of BREEF, the Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation, took the opportunity presented when he was given the Cacique Award for Nature Tourism to caution the Government to move forward while its limited window of opportunity (between elections) remains.

The challenge then is to announce this administration's plans, adjust to the changing economic tide, and get on with it.

While the announcement this week by the ambassador for the environment that a "consultative committee" has been formed to get input on environmental matters sounds good, environmentalists and the general public seek action and solutions, not more words.

Development in general and population growth and housing needs in particular, will always challenge the sustainable use of wetlands, coastal zones and the surrounding sea; the trick is to consistently apply a set of regulations to secure sustainable development for generations to come.

The Bahamas, acknowledged with surprise by the current ambassador for the international recognition The Bahamas earned, must now get on with the job of filling those shoes!
Posted by:Jan 13th 2003, 10:08:01 pm
Fig Tree News TeamAttention all fishermen:

This just in ...

Fishing regulations
Posted By: Wyvern

I am posting this for the general purusal by all who frequent the message board, and who are interested in fishing in the Bahamas. It is unfortunate that there are many who are, whether knowingly or unknowingly, breaking the laws of the Bahamas concerning fishing. Here is the most recent summary of the fishing laws of the Bahamas.

Fishing Regulations

In order to conserve The Bahamian marine environment, fishing and diving in The Bahamas are governed by rules administered by The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Those breaking laws governing size limitation, fishing seasons, allowable fishing tools and prohibitions may face heavy fines and penalties. Following is a summary of the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Regulations, courtesy of the Bahamas Handbook.

Spearfishing using underwater breathing apparatus is illegal. Exceptions include compressors with a permit issued only to Bahamians only and used only between August 1 to March 31 and in water depths of 30 to 60 ft. Visitors may use an air compressor for observation purposes only and may not harvest any resources while using it.

It is illegal to use any device other than a hawaiian sling for the discharge of a missile underwater.

Foreign vessels intending to engage in sport fishing must have a permit and several rules apply under this permit. Fishing gear is restricted to hook and line unless otherwise authorized. Only 6 lines are allowed in the water at one time, unless otherwise authorized. Cost of the permit is $20 per trip or $150 annually. If more than 6 reels are allowed on a party fishing boat for instance the permit is $10,000 annually. The bag limit for Kingfish, Dolphin and Wahoo is a maximum combined total of 6 fish per person on the vessel, comprising any combination of these species. Vessel bag limits for other marine products are 20lbs. of scalefish, 10 conch, and 6 crawfish per person at any time. The posession of Turtle is prohibted. The above amounts may be exported by the vessel upon leaving The Bahamas.

A $50 permit is required to conduct foreign fishing for scentific or research purposes. A licence is required to engage in foreign fishing - fishing by a non-Bahamian vessel for commerial purposes. Such permission can only be issued to foreign states which have a fishery treaty with The Bahamas.

Bahamian commercial fishing vessels 20ft in length or greater must get a valid fishing permit. "Bahamian" in relation to a fishing vessel is one bona fide owned by a citizen of The Bahamas, resident in The Bahamas or a company registered in The Bahamas under the Companies Act in which all the shares are beneficially owned by citizens of The Bahamas resident in The Bahamas. It is illegal to export any marine product for commercial purposes unless the person involved has an export licence for the product he wishes to export, or the product is inspected by a fisheries inspector at the time of export and export-duty on the product is paid. A $10 permit is required for the use of an air compressor (hookah) in fishing. Its use is restricted to Aug 1 - Mar 31, and to a water depth range of 30-60ft.

It is illegal to use: a) bleach or other noxious or poisonous substances for fishing or have such substances on a fishing vessel without written approval from the Minister; b) use firearms or explosives; c) spearfish within one mile of the coast of New Providence and the southern coast of Grand Bahama, and 200 yards off the coast of all other family islands; d) use fish nets with a minimum mesh guage of less than 2 inches; e) use a scalefish trap which does not have a self destruct panel and minimum mesh sizes less than 1 x 2in for rectangular wire mesh traps and 1.5 in for hexagonal wire mesh trap: f) take corals: g) build artificial reefs without permission from the Minister: h) sell fish in New Providence without a permit from the minister.

Closed Season for crawfish (spiny lobster) is April 1 to July 31. Minimum size limit for crawfish is a carapace length of 3 1/4 in from the base of the horns to the end of the jacket, or 5 1/2 in tail length. A $10 permit is required to trap crawfish. Traps should be wooden slat traps not more than 3 ft. in length, 2 ft. in width and 2 ft. in height with slats not less than 1 in. apart. The possession of egg-bearing female crawfish is prohibited.

Closed season for stone crabs is June 1 to October 15th. Minimum crab claw is 4 in. Possessing or selling the female stone crab is prohibited.

Long line fishing in Bahamian waters is illegal unless there is special written permission from the Governor General. Long line fishing includes fishing by means of a line or cable which extends 20 yards from the point where it is cast and to which is attached 10 hooks.

Closed season for turtles is April 1 - July 31. Minimum size limit for a green turtle is 24 in back length and for a loggerhead turtle 30 in back length. Taking or posessing turtle eggs is prohibited. All turtles captured must be landed whole. It is illegal to catch Hawksbill Turtles in The Bahamas.

It is illegal to harvest conch which does not possess a well formed lip or sponge less than 5.5 in. diameter for wool and grass, 1 in. diameter for hard head and reef sponge.

It is illegal to buy or sell bonefish. It is illegal to fish for them using nets.

It is illegal to export hermit crabs.

It is illegal to export live rock or small reef fish for commercial purposes.

It is illegal to catch grouper and rockfish weighing less than three lbs

It is illegal to fish for, export, molest or interfere with any marine mammal.

It is illegal to uproot, destroy or take any corals.

Please remember that many of us in Eleuthera and Harbour Island rely on fishing for our income, and appreciate Bahamians and foreigners alike keeping to the laws provided.

Posted by:Dec 12th 2002, 01:09:53 pm
KimberlyThis might help, too:

Associated Press [12 December 2002]
Officials back request from environmentalists, who say coral is harmed by the fiber-optic gear.

MIAMI -- Florida is seeking to tighten restrictions on undersea telecommunications cables that environmentlists say damage sensitive coral reefs.

The state Cabinet approved a preliminary request Wednesday from environmental officials to channel future cables away from corals and through five designated gaps in reefs.
The swaying motion of the fiber-optic cables has damaged the coral, which requires hundreds of years to regenerate, according to a study by Washington-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

"Virtually everything the cable touches is harmed in some way," says Chuck Sultzman, a Vero Beach marine biologist who led the research.

Telecommunications officials argued there is no evidence that cables move along the ocean floor.

The cables are generally owned by a consortium of telecommunication companies, which says it will challenge the proposals, including dees for new lines in environmentally sensitive areas.

"Becoming the only state in the Southeast to charge such fees does not seem the best way to make or keep Florida as the telecommunications gateway to Central and South America," wrote Paul Shorb, a lawyer for AT&T Corp.

Nearly a dosen fiber-optic cables thread through the reefs along Florida's southeast coast, linking telephone and computer lines in the state to Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Under the state proposal, new cables would be barred from certain areas teeming with undersea life and herded through reef gaps in others. The industry would have to pay a onetime $15,000 application fee and $5.08 per linear foot to have its cables cross the waters.

The decision from the six elected members of the Cabinet starts the process that will make rules to implement the proposal. The rules will be revised after public hearings.
Posted by:Nov 5th 2002, 03:44:46 pm
KimberlyTuesday's Nassau Guardian:

The death of 22 bottlenose dolphins which were stranded in Long Island between Deadman's Cay and Mangrove Bush, has left fishermen and employees of the Department of Agriculture baffled.

Samples of the mammals remains have been sent to Florida for testing and evaluation. Up to press time on Monday, the Guardian was unable to ascertain when the report will be completed.

According to information reaching the Guardian, a school of 40 dolphins was first spotted on Oct. 14 in the Deadman's Cay Sound area.

They were said to be in "good health."

But, it was about one week later, on Oct. 21, when fisherman Colin Cartwright discovered one dead dolphin entangled in a fishing net.

Mr Cartwright told the Guardian that other than the net, he could not honestly say what was the cause of the mammals' deaths.

On making the discovery, Mr. Cartwright said, his first instinct was to contact the National Trust in Long Island, which in turned contacted the Trust unit in New Providence. He said while awaiting a response, attempts were made to rescue the other animals before they died.

"On Nov. 2, we discovered dead dolphins all over the place," Mr. Cartwright said. "Between Saturday and Sunday, we found 21 in total dead, but we were unable to see what contributed to their death or say why such a thing happened."

Other reports reaching the Guardian stated that The Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (BMMSN) received notification on Friday of a bottlenose dolphin stranded in Long Island.

The Guardian was informed that Bahamas National Trust Education Officer Lynn Gape and Bahamas Fisheries Officer Eleanor Phillips communicated through the day with Judith Knowles, a Department of Agriculture employee, and Maurice Minnis, a Department of Agriculture Officer.

The Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network was able to request assistance from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and on Saturday, NMFS Officer Judith Lite and an assistant flew to Long Island to assist the residents of Deadman's Cay with the matter.

An aerial survey was conducted on Sunday morning and 11 of the dead

dolphins were "neoropsied" and skull and skin samples were taken to

Florida for tests.

"At this time the cause of the stranding is not known, but the aerial survey indicated that the dolphins that had been seen in the shallows that were in danger of being trapped had moved out of the area," the Guardian was told.

It was reported that the local community and fishermen have been vigilant

and have greatly assisted the BMMSN.

The area is being monitored for any additional activity.

The BMMSN is a partnership between the Bahamas Department of Fisheries and The Bahamas National Trust, coordinating stranding information and offering assistance to communities regarding stranding marine mammals in the Bahamas. Marine mammal researchers and

marine agencies, both local and international, are members of the network.
Posted by:Oct 24th 2002, 07:27:29 pm
brilandbeautyFinally, environmental favorite. I just have one question however, has anyone directed their concerns to the businesses, personally, that support these people? Without a market there would be no supplier!
Also, because HI is so small people tend to let issues like this flare up for a minute and then forget about them...I hope we keep this in circulation until it is addressed properly. Get 'em Randall:)
Posted by:Oct 24th 2002, 07:19:29 pm
chapelOctober 24, 2002 - 10:03
Save Our Sea Turtles Organization Meets With AG
SOS seeks legislation to protect turtles

Today, sea turtles face many threats to their survival. Their habitats are being destroyed by pollution, beachfront and coastal construction and artificial lights disturb nesting females and attract turtle hatchlings away from the ocean to their death from dehydration and predation. Despite international treaties prohibiting trade in sea turtles, their meat is a black-market delicacy in many parts of the world. Tortoiseshell jewellery and souvenirs are still sold in many countries. Another major threat to endangered sea turtles is accidental capture in fishing nets. Commercial fishing in international waters takes a disastrous toll.

Save Our Sea Turtles (S.O.S.), a Bahamian not-for-profit organization formed for the sole purpose of saving all sea turtles for future generations, recently met with the Honourable Alfred M. Sears, Attorney General of The Bahamas and Minister of Education to discuss the current legislation concerning sea turtles in The Bahamas.

"The problem of sea turtle conservation is a very complex one and Save Our Sea Turtles is committed to a long term programme of community awareness and education," said Gillian Watson of S.O.S. "Currently the capture and sale of sea turtles in The Bahamas is regulated but still legal within season. Since there is so little known about the exact numbers of sea turtles in our region, we feel the Government must act quickly to stop the commercial fishing of sea turtles until The Bahamas is able to determine whether or not turtle fishing is a sustainable industry."

"Currently there are no fisherman in The Bahamas who fish solely for turtle. Save Our Sea Turtle organization agrees that the traditional rights of Bahamians must be protected and is therefore asking that a ban be imposed only on commercial fishing. We do not propose banning sea turtles from fishermen," adds Mrs. Watson.

The Save Our Sea Turtles organization has received strong support from concerned Bahamians, residents and visitors that have signed a petition asking for the cessation of commercial turtle fishing in The Bahamas.

"SOS works to enact protective laws and to establish sanctuaries for sea turtles. Through environmentally-sound tourism, visitors to The Bahamas can experience nature without harming it, and enhance the economies of local communities," said Mrs. Watson. "We are grateful to all the people that have signed our petition and hope that together we can pass the necessary legislation to stop the commercial fishing of sea turtles."
Posted by:Oct 22nd 2002, 02:07:28 pm
KimberlyEven better news ... Briland Commissioner Cephas Cooper announced that Chief Councillor Eloise Knowles is spearheading a brand-new Citizen's Action Task Force that will specifically address overfishing and bad habitat management issues ... as well as target many other similar problems facing the area.
Posted by:Oct 7th 2002, 11:28:31 pm
MaddieGreat news, Kimberly! But how is this going to be enforced?
Posted by:Oct 7th 2002, 12:40:51 pm
KimberlyGood news from this week's

Minister of Fisheries Alfred Gray has confirmed that there will be a no take period or closed season for grouper during the upcoming spawning season from 1stNovember to 1st February. This has pleased BREEF, the conservation group headed by Sir Nicholas Nuttal. We think that it is a good idea. The grouper in The Bahamas is the last place in the Caribbean where there is an aggregation or schools to be found. Scientists have said that if The Bahamas does not act now; within five years the grouper will be gone.
Posted by:Oct 5th 2002, 06:38:56 am
raindancerim so gald to see such a large, number of people concerned about this,i was unaware that the bahamas even attended the world summit ,but i think we should really start, pushing environmental awarness on briland, and start right here at home,do the kids at HI all age school learn about the environment and poloution problems,who supervises and enforces fishing laws in the out islands, if all the fishermen kept thier eyes peeled, one could report it imeadiatly when some one breaks a law.
every one, well at least every one who replied to randell's message,seems concerned,and ive just seen his post begins,
'dear minister of the fisheries,'lets all write to the minister and tell him what we think,eh?,strength in numbers!i think the bahamas has alot of sensible laws concerning the environment they just arn't enforced, so lets, start making some changes,does anyone know of any environmental groups in the bahamas and does any one have the minister's adress?

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