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Ministry of the Environment and Housing


Message from

Min.Kenred

DORSETT Miller began the dismantling of these towns by serving notices on the owners and occupants, the results of which have been fruitful. We highlight some of what has been done so far in this issue. In August of 2013, Prime Minister Christie released a statement announcing the government’s new energy sector reform strategy. I have since been invited to various events to speak on the subject that groups may understand and join the government’s effort. We all know that energy and the cost of it has been a problem for our citizens and businesses for a long time. The Prime Minister has highlighted on more that one occasion the need for government to act to lower the cost of energy in order to improve our competitiveness as a country in the attraction of investments and to ease the burden on our people and local businesses. Before the Prime Minister’s announcement, the government made strides in this direction with the elimination of tariffs on solar panels and inverters, established the Energy Task Force and the elimination of excise taxes on fuels used by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation. This is a monumental step by the government in changing our way of life for the better and demonstrating our commitment to reform and renewable energy. The new strategy is covered in my presentation to the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. Since the release of our last issue much has been happening in my ministry. The team here has beenworking hard to ensure that we tackle the issues plaguing our country and I thank them very much for their diligence and hard work. Our last issue served as an introduction to the environmental work being done in the country by the Ministry of the Environment and Housing and the various Non Governmental Organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, Bahamas National Trust, Friends of the Environment and other groups. In this issue we continue to highlight the efforts of our partners but we also go more in depth into the work being done by the ministry and the government in general. It is important that our citizens are educated on the role the environment plays in our every day lives and the effect it has on our livelihoods. We have begun the incredible task of removing Shanty Towns from our communities. The Department of Environmental Health Services conducted inspections of these towns across the country and the environmental findings were cause for alarm. Testing of water samples collected resulted in the presence of faecal coliform, the accumulation of garbage and derelict vehicles were prevalent. We cannot allow our brothers and sisters to live in this substandard manner. Thus, my team at the DEHS under the leadership of Asst. Director Lennard

Many persons and organizations who have seen this publication have shown interest in becoming a part of this initiative. In this issue we display the art of underwater photographer, Shane Gross. Mr. Gross is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada and now resides in The Bahamas. He has captured spectacular images of the world which exists under the Bahamian seas. It was a task for my team to choose just a few of the beautiful images submitted by Mr. Gross. However, we have a pictorial essay which I hope not only shows the beauty that can be found in our waters but also serves as a reminder to our citizens of how blessed we are. Lastly I want to highlight a research project conducted in the Exuma Land and Sea Park by Professor Maria Rasotto sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism on Coral Reefs. I was delighted that this work was submitted to us for publication as such research too often goes unpublicized and our people often have no idea of what is going on and what is being found through research in the country. It is my hope that more research will be published through our magazine for the edification of our people. The dissemination of such information was a big part of the motivation to begin producing Eco Bahamas. I am pleased with this issue and the Eco Bahamas team should be commended for producing a quality publication. I certainly hope that you enjoy it.


TABLE OF

CONTENTS 06

STRESS FREE ENVIRONMENT

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CREDITS

PHOTO ESSAY : SHANE GROSS

EXECUTIVE EDITOR Minister Kenred Dorsett

MANAGING EDITOR Joette Penn

MAGAZINE DESIGNER

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CAPE ELEUTHERA ISLAND SCHOOL

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BACH: CORAL REEF HOPE

Toneka Symonette

ARTICLE CONTRIBUTORS Bahamas National Trust Andros Conservancy BACH Project Friends of the Environment BREEF Cape Eleuthera Island School Dr. Rhianna Neely Juliette Deal

PHOTOS Shane Gross Bahamas National Trust Andros Conservancy BREEF Bahamas Mortgage Corp. Joette Penn T. Fraser Cape Eleuthera Island School Juliette Deal Friends of the Environment BACH Project

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ENERGY SECTOR REFORM

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(BNT) RAPID ECOLOGICAL ASSESMENTS

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SHANTY TOWN PROGRESS


Key Legislation Advanced This past January, Minister Dorsett advanced two pieces of legislation in the House of Assembly, one to further the cause of the conservation and responsible use of the environment specifically forests and the other to establish a mechanism for the financing to manage protected areas in the country. The aim of the amendment to the Forestry Act was to have lands vested in the minister “that he may be able to declare the National Forest Estate for classification as forest reserves, protected forests and conservation forests.” Minister Dorsett delivered a communication on the proposed amendments to the Forestry Act. He began by advising parliamentary colleagues and the Bahamian people of the history and significance of Forestry in the country and the prospects for this industry in the future to create green jobs. He said, “the Commonwealth of The Bahamas possesses considerable forest resources of pines, coppice hardwoods and mangrove. Approximately 80% of forest resources are on state lands (crown land). Minister Dorsett explained that, “pine forest (Pinus Caribaea variety Bahamensis) commonly referred to as Caribbean Pine, is considered the most productive and lucrative of the three vegetation types in The Bahamas and is found on four islands – Abaco, Andros, Grand Bahama and New Providence. These are an untapped and important natural resource. Coppice (hardwood) forests are predominantly found in the central and southern Bahamas. Some notable coppice species include Buttonwood, Mahogany, Gumelani, Ratwood, Black Ebony, Braziletto, Horseflesh, Lignum Vitae and Red Cedar. However, coppice forests are considered one of the most endangered forest types due to the pressures of urbanization, illegal logging, poor or non existent forest management practices, transport infrastructure and agriculture.” He further explained the historical time line of forest exploitation in The Bahamas saying that it dates back to “the 1700s when almost all of the large sized valuable hardwood species were cut down and exported.” The first license to harvest pine was granted in 1906 and continued to the early 70s. After which all licenses were “relinquished to the government”.

“The Ministry of the Environment and Housing sees the redevelopment of the forestry sector as a priority,” the Minister said. It is believed that “by expanding the utilization of our natural resources like the pine forests in a sustainable manner, our country can become less dependent on certain wood products that are imported.” The opportunity for rural employment was also highlighted along with the opportunities that will present themselves in Eco Tourism services and wild life management, in particular, the establishment of hunting and game reserves, within the National Forest Estate. Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Legislation The other piece of legislation advanced was the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Bill (BPAF) 2013. This legislation was drafted to “facilitate international commitments and address the growing environmental consciousness of Bahamians.” Protected Areas as defined in the bill are, “areas of land or sea dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, managed through legal or other effective means. In his presentation to Parliament the Minister listed the protected areas in The Bahamas as the following: 1. The Clifton Heritage Park managed pursuant to Section 4 of the Clifton Heritage Authority Act (Ch. 51B) 2. declared to be protected areas pursuant to an order made under Section 13 of the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Act, (Ch 244) 3. declared to be forest reserves, protected forests and conservation forests pursuant to an order made under the Forestry Act (No. 20 of 2010) 4. declared to be Wild Bird protected areas pursuant to the Wild Birds Protection Act (Ch 249); 5. declared to be areas of, owned or managed by the Bahamas National Trust under the provisions of the Bahamas National Trust Act (Ch 391) or 6. declared to be protected areas under Section 2 of this Bill.

He said that the objective of the bill was to “provide a legal framework to ensure sustainable financing into perpetuity for the management of protected areas in The Bahamas. This is inclusive of management activities, scientific and policy research and education supporting the conservation of biodiversity and the over implementation of the convention on Biological Diversity and the Caribbean Challenge.” The BPAF will be governed by a Board of Directors of eleven persons from “government and civil society, including but not limited to, representatives of national, international and local non governmental organizations, research and scientific organizations and the private sector, and composed of a majority of non-governmental individuals” who will have executive control. The Board will appoint an Executive Director who will be charged with the day to day operations of the BPAF. The legislation includes guidelines for the sources of funding for the BPAF inclusive of budgetary allocations from government and public and private donations from national and international sources among several other vehicles by which the BPAF can generate revenue. Also included are strict rules of how the monies can be spent. For example, the bill stipulates that “no more than 15% of its annual budget can be allocated for administrative expenses such as salaries and other recurring expenses, except for the first three financial years of the BPAF’s existence during which 25% of its annual budget can be used for such expenses. The minister ended his presentation on the BPAF bill by stating, “I offer you the opportunity to make something materialize the likes of which have never been done in our beloved country and are long overdue.” He went on to urge his fellow parliamentarians to support the bill, “to be futuristic by looking out for the generations of Bahamian men and women yet to be born and most importantly to ensure that the best and greatest places of our Bahamaland have financing to safeguard their near pristine natural conditions into perpetuity.” Both bills were debated and passed in the House of Assembly and were sent on to the Senate for their approval.

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GO OUTSIDE S T R E S S

F R E E

A lot of us live extremely stressful lives. Whether it’s the job, family, relationships, struggling to meet the monthly bills or just the self inflicted pressure of trying to be everything to everybody, a number of us are under significant pressure. We are living hurried lives with little to no time to take a deep cleansing breath or even eat properly. We seem not to understand the importance of solitude, quiet and taking the time to unwind and decompress from life’s activities until we have no other choice. The stress that we impose on ourselves to be, do, and achieve coupled with the stress of making ends meet, putting the kids through school and in some instances keeping up with the proverbial Joneses contributes to health issues like hypertension, diabetes and other non communicable diseases. Stress can also lead to insomnia, depression, and obesity. In 2011, our then Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham delivered an address to the United Nations stating that,

“NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES CONSTITUTE AN EPIDEMIC IN MY COUNTRY.” 6

E N V I R O N M E N T

He went on to say, “in The Bahamas: • One half of all public hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from NCDs, with an average length of stay of seven (7) days. • Eighty per cent of the drug costs for our National Prescription Drug Plan are spent on treating hypertension and diabetes. • Half of deaths of individuals 45 years and older, and 60% of all deaths are caused by this epidemic of NCDs. •

Health and related socio-economic costs associated are enormous.”

In today’s world we have access to all the modern amenities that anyone can want. We have cell phones, tablets, desktop computers, microwaves, Wii, X-box and other devices that are supposed to make life simpler, fun and more convenient but some how the more devices we have the more stress they seem to bring to our lives. While electronics and the like cannot totally bear the blame for our sedentary and stressful lives, the idea that you can instant message with friends and family instead of going to see them or pretend


to play tennis with some character on the Nintendo Wii instead of grabbing your racquet and finding a court is playing a role in not just our psychological but our physical state of being. Here is some good advice to those who find themselves needing to unwind in a healthy way (no don’t grab a drink),

GO OUTSIDE! In 2012, the Landscape and Urban Planning Journal published an article that stated, “Green space has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including stress reduction, but much pertinent evidence has relied on self-reported health indicators or experiments in artificially controlled environmental conditions.” It further stated, “The evidence is particularly strong for positive associations between experience of natural environments and mental health. It appears that contact with natural environments promotes psychological restoration, improved mood, improved attention, and reduced stress and anxiety.” Here in The Bahamas we are blessed with some of the world’s best beaches where one can sit by the seashore and let the rolling waves take away all our worries, if only for a few moments. We have green spaces, walking paths, basketball and tennis courts which are all available free of charge where we can leave our frustrations on the pavement with every step we take, every basket we make or every hit of the tennis ball. Most of us own or have access to yards where we can garden which is also is a great way to reduce stress. We have hundreds of islands in this magnificent archipelago we call home where we can go to relax and rejuvenate from the hustle and bustle of the city. The relevant question to be asked then is if all of these places and things are at our disposal why are we not taking advantage of them. The bottom line is that we must change our lifestyles for the better and as you can tell it does not take a lot of money or even a lot of effort. All it takes is the will to be better, do better and feel better. Try it, add some time in the great outdoors to your daily routine. Take the dog for a walk, challenge a friend to a game on the court, take a book to the beach or grab a seat beneath a tree, it will make you feel better.

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UN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE 2013 COP 19/CMP 9 The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an environmental treaty agreed upon in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) also known as the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro. It’s purpose is to “stabilize green house gases in the atmosphere to a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Parties or signatories to the treaty meet annually to evaluate the progress made toward it’s objective, the meeting is called COP (Conference of the Parties) the first was held in Berlin, Germany in 1995. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. It is an international agreement which “commits its parties by setting internationally binding emissions reduction targets.” The Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol is known as CMP. The first CMP meeting was held in December of 2005 in Montreal. Canada along with COP 11. The latest United Nations Framework for Climate Change conference (COP 19/CMP 9) was held in Warsaw, Poland in November of 2013. A Bahamian delegation headed by Minister of the Environment and Housing, Hon. Kenred Dorsett attended the conference. A key issue being considered by the Conference was that of loss and damage as a result of climate change. Significant progress was made on this issue at a previous conference held in Doha, Qatar in 2012, at that time a decision was taken to establish an international mechanism to address loss and damage. Minister Dorsett along with three (3) other Ministers of Environment from the Alliance of Small Island States led negotiations with the Developed Country parties, seeking “concrete decisions” to address loss and damage.

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Minister Kernred Dorsett speaking at UNFCCC (2013) Photo courtesy of International Institute for Sustainable Development www.iisd.ca

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At the COP 19/CMP9 meeting, the Bahamian delegation was involved in negotiations regarding the UNFCCC budget, financing for The Bahamas to attend future meetings and the issue of loss and damage, which was raised by AOSIS member countries, Low-Income Developing Countries and the G77 plus China. The Bahamas also chaired the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Conference and coordinated elections in the margins of the Conference. Minister Dorsett participated in the high level ministerial talks where he had the opportunity to address the body. The minister’s presentation outlined The Bahamas’ plight as regards access to funding and the strides and efforts being made by the government of The Bahamas to combat climate change. The minister said that typhoon Haiyan “reaffirmed that we must continue to press for all nations, developing and developed to meet their commitments under this convention and their initial commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. He went on to state that, “this is not a time for backsliding but a time for ramping up and enhancing commitment to tackle climate change and increase funding to deal with climate change and related events.” Mr. Dorsett stressed the need for access to funding mechanisms for countries like The Bahamas stating, “we must operationalise and capitalise the Green Climate Fund now! More importantly, vulnerable states like The Bahamas must be given access to such funding mechanisms.” It was also made clear that the way in which our country is measured for funding is not realistic. Dorsett told those assembled that, “per capita income cannot be the primary criteria for eligibility for

funding, as it does not reflect the real economic and fiscal challenges of developing countries”. He expressed emphatically that The Bahamas needed help because, “we are not fully able to adapt to or mitigate the loss and damages associated with climate change induced processes.” The conference was apprised of the efforts being made by the government to combat climate change through legislative measures such as the amending of the Forestry Act, the lowering of tariffs on hybrid and electric vehicles, the elimination of tariffs on inverters for solar panels, panels, LED bulbs and appliances. He also spoke to the strategies advanced to reform the energy sector. The minister ended his presentation by admonishing that “it is time to do more, and it is time to do it faster than we have ever done before.”

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2 5¢

Pocket Change To Change The World

Four years ago, when I moved back home, I set out on a quest to educate myself on a pollutant that had been a thorn in my side for so many years. I travel around the world and see many beautiful countries, and when I arrive back, the first glimpse of aqua blue waters and pristine white beaches reminds me that I am home, and welcomes me with

open arms. I love my Bahama Land and it’s raw, natural, unyielding rare beauty. Each time I come back however,

BY JULIETTE DEAL

I notice Polystyrene containers, otherwise know as Styrofoam TM everywhere. Some washed ashore on the tide line, some caught in the mangroves, some you see driving down the road in the bush, or floating as we come into the harbour.

until that point. As I started to research, the information unfolded like a bad novel. Every chapter proving even more gruesome than the one before. I could not understand how or why we, globally, were still using these single use products.

Before I began this quest to provide an alternative to this

Below is the information I discovered, of which I have been educating people about for the past four years, along side, and with great support from Friends of the Environment , The Island School in Eleuthera and BREEF.

pollutant, I knew that it was bad for the environment, and knew not to place the foam containers in the microwave. However, I had no idea how bad it was

TO BEGIN WITH, MOST OF US HAVE HEARD THAT IT PERSISTS IN THE ENVIRONMENT FOR A LONG TIME, HOWEVER, WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW IS THAT IT IS AROUND FOR A MINIMUM OF 600 YEARS (2). THIS MEANS THAT OVER THE PAST 35 YEARS, WE HAVE BEEN USING A SINGLE-USE PRODUCT THAT WILL REMAIN IN OUR ENVIRONMENT FOR 24 GENERATIONS FROM NOW, AS LANDFILL. Polystyrene, when placed in formal landfills, makes up 30% of our waste volume per year, due to the fact that it is made

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TURN OFF THE LIGHTS WHEN NOT IN ACTIVE USE Environmentally Friendly......Saves You Money BAHAMAS INFORMATION SERVICES 2014

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Ministry of the Environment and Housing


of 98% air. It is listed as the 2nd largest pollutant in the world by the The California Integrated Management Board. Each one of our populated islands has to deal with the issue of waste, and how best to dispose of it everyday. Adding to this problem simply does not make any sense. However there are 100% compostable, all natural alternatives available. When polystyrene is burned, it releases 57 chemical byproducts into the air we breath. This fact was identified by The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research. Those of us who have lived in the Bahamas have experienced dump smoke first hand at some point in our life. Burying waste leads us back to the longevity of polystyrene, and the impending reality that we are an archipelago of islands each dealing with mounting waste issues. Shipping off island only sends this issue down stream to another island or another country to address. Finally, in a Waste to Energy model, polystyrene offers little to nothing in the way of BTU’s (British Thermal Unit’s) in the process of creating energy for our grid.

HOW DOES POLYSTYRENE AFFECT OUR ECOSYSTEMS AND ENVIRONMENT? Because it is made of 98% air, polystyrene floats when it is in water. Over time, as the form breaks up and particles become smaller, they begin to sink. When small enough, these broken pieces are perceived as food by marine and avian life, creating circumstances of starvation or contamination for the wildlife. These floating pieces also greatly contribute to the ‘Gyre’ in the Pacific Ocean, know as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or Pacific Trash Vortex. If it affects marine life, it affects our health as well. It is a known fact that polystyrene can be bad for us, and that we should not place it in the microwave. However, most do not know why. The first report was written in 1972 and another report was written in 1976, both proving the migration of styrene from the foam into our human tissue. Then in 1986, the EPA National Human Adipose Tissue Survey reported 100% of all the tissue sampled contained styrene residues (6). Then again, as written by the Sierra Club: In 1988 a survey published by the Foundation for Advancement in Science and Education also found styrene in human fatty tissue with a frequency of 100%.

AND WE ASK WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE? It is proven that when hot or acidic food touches polystyrene, the container or cup loses weight and we ingest the chemical into our system as we eat or drink. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, have classified styrene as a possible human carcinogen (known to cause cancer in laboratory rats) and styrene has also recently been placed on a list of likely carcinogens by The US Health and Human Services. It has been found that chronic exposure affects the central nervous system, showing symptoms such as depression, headache, fatigue, weakness, and may cause minor effects on kidney function and blood, not to mention irritation of the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract, as well as gastrointestinal effects.

THE SOLUTION! There is a movement happening globally where countries, states/ provinces, cities and towns are becoming aware of these issues, and moving away from this pollutant towards all natural, non-toxic, 100% compostable alternatives that are made from plants, not chemicals. Alternative to-go containers are made from Begasse (sugar cane) or wheat straw (either brown or white if bleached). These sugar cane and wheat straw byproducts would other wise be burned or discarded. They can be used for hot or cold items and can be microwaved without worry. They compost (‘which means returns to nutrient rich soil in a compost bin’) in 60-90 days v.s. 600 years minimum for Polystyrene in the landfill! For cups and utensils, PLA (a corn resin), otherwise known as Polylactic Acid, is clear in appearance and used in place of plastic. It composts down in

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180 days v.s. 250 years for certain plastics we use today. PLA is used for cold items only, as it is heat sensitive, which is a good thing. This characteristic helps to break it down in our environment and turn it into nutrient rich soil. The question now comes back full circle; is our environment, national waste reduction initiatives, and personal health and safety worth twenty five cents?

WHY TWENTY FIVE CENTS? That is the difference between the cost of a polystyrene container and a natural, non-toxic, compostable to-go container. In countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada and the State of California, they extend the cost on to the consumer. In these countries and state, if you do not bring your Eco shopping bag to the grocery store and need a plastic bag, it will cost you $0.25 per bag needed (if it is legal to have them at all). If you wish to take your meal home with you for left overs, the to-go container is sometimes then added on to your bill. If you are a Take Out restaurant in these countries, often the cost is added to the base rate, and a form of advertisement is hung to indicate that they have Gone Green. Not only does this take the pressure off the vendor or establishment to make difficult decisions about the environment vs. their bottom line, it also creates awareness about the decision that the consumer is about make and why.

next 24 generations. We must begin looking at the cancer rates and wondering why they are so prevalent, and we must begin creating solutions to long term mounting waste concerns through sustainable initiatives such as composting and recycling. Please join us on this movement to begin the process of taking Polystyrene off our streets, our pristine beaches, our beautiful forests, out of mangroves, blue holes and creeks. Haiti banned polystyrene in 2012, Guyana’s ban will take affect June 2014, and New York City 2015. We are a country that sits as one of the premier tropical tourist destinations in the world. We must begin looking at these issues very seriously, and ask ourselves what we are leaving behind for the

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HOW CAN YOU BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION AND GLOBAL MOVEMENT? Pass the information on and ask your favorite restaurants not to use Polystyrene, alternatives are available!


The Nature Conservancy’s Northern Caribbean Program has partnered with the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology (BEST) Commission, the Department of Marine Resources and the Bahamas National Trust to implement the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Full Size Project (FSP) pilot project 2.4 (2) “Building a National Network of Protected Areas: Incorporating Climate Change and Mangrove Restoration into Conservation Planning.” The first phase of this GEF FSP pilot project 2.4 (2) was executed in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP), the oldest protected area in the region. Scientists form the University of Queensland Marine Spatial Ecology Lab (MSEL) with several Bahamian scientific divers and a volunteer PhD candidate from the University of California surveyed coral reef habitat within the park over the course of a week by observing the corals, fish, and benthic communities and recording rugosity; the structural complexity of the reef.

The information collected was used to: 1. Identify the connectivity of reefs in the ECLSP to other coral reefs in the Bahamas so that complementary reserve sites can be identified; 2. Model reef futures for reefs within the ECLSP and; 3. Produce maps of the ECLSP coral reef system, which are accessible at http://www.marinespatialecologylab.org/ best/ Mangroves are saline tolerant plants that can grow in brackish water or directly in seawater with limited freshwater availability. They provide suitable nursery habitat for many marine species until they reach a certain age and migrate to the coral reef community or deeper pelagic habitats to continue their lifecycles. Researchers have found juvenile conch, lobster, sharks, finfish such as groupers and snappers, turtles and even sawfish within mangroves. In addition to supporting commercially viable species, mangrove stands act

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Photos by TNC staff Felicity Burrows 2012 © showing Cat Ppalu research vessel in the Exuma Cays Land Sea Park and Krista Sherman from The BNT and Nicholas Wolff UQ scientist entering survey data collected during dives.

as a fortress against storms by buffering strong winds and absorbing storm surges. It is this unique combination of attributes why mangroves play a critical role in helping to mitigate the expected sea level rise associated with climate change. The second phase was conducted in the Bonefish Pond National Park on New Providence. The Conservancy commissioned Dr. Craig Dahlgren to facilitate red mangrove restoration within the Park, which will lead to an increase in biological connectivity between fish, nurseries and coral reefs and coastline protection. In order to determine which area within the Park to focus restoration efforts, pre-assessments were conducted. The mangroves and nearby coral reef were mapped and surveyed by local scientists accompanying Dr. Dahlgren. At each mangrove survey site water quality data was collected to evaluate connectivity between various bodies of water.

Photos by BNT staff Lindy Knowles 2013 © showing Indira Brown from DMR, Dr. Craig Dahlgren, Janeen Bullard, and Felicity Burrows from TNC within the Bonefish Pond National Park conducting surveys.

The first step in restoring the Park’s red mangroves was to re-open a Photo by Craig Dahlgren 2013© showing volunteers from the Ministry of Education’s Summer Camp blocked channel, and remove garbage, including an old septic tank that planting red mangroves. had been dumped in the channel. This channel and surrounding area had become a dumping ground and site for burning trash for the last 10 years degrading this system. With the assistance of many community volunteers, over 600 young mangroves of varying heights and ages were planted along the perimeter of the channel. Since completing the restoration activities in the area, juvenile snappers, barracuda and a few other fish have been observed utilizing the channel. The newly mangrove fringed tidal creek will enhance the nursery function of the Photos by Craig Dahlgren PhD 2013 © showing BPNP pre restoration activities with piles of dumped copper, broken glass and blocked channel on mangrove habitat for marine species. A community the left. The image on the right shows the post restoration view of the Park. Red based monitoring program will also be developed to mangrove islands were created using transplanted mangroves in areas that were quantitatively determine the success of the restoration once filled with garbage. effort within the Park over time.

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C

LIMATE HANGE

WE CAN ALL DO SOMETHING. Dr. Rihanna Neely

Climate change is a cross cutting and persistent problem for The Bahamas and countries like it. Impacts such as climate variability, temperature rise, sea level rise and ocean acidification threaten our borders, culture and our very way of life. These adverse impacts have compounded existing critical economic, environmental, social and security related issues. They have also placed undue burdens on our national infrastructure and systems. As a result, we continue to express that international action and aid is needed to address climate change. This aid remains inadequate; therefore, there is a need to address these issues at the national and individual levels. Although we are not to the point of forced human displacement (as are many Small Island Developing States), there are other human dimensions of climate change that should be of concern to Bahamians. For example, the possibility of more frequent and severe climate – related disasters, threats to water and food security and increased natural resource scarcity, continue to be looming problems for us. At the national level, addressing our resilience to climate change is equally as important as addressing adaptation to climate change. In many respects, it may be viewed as one and the same. We are in the process of implementing a national environmental policy, with the aim of safeguarding our national treasures and environment and addressing growing developmental pressures on our limited land base. The national environmental policy will tackle the issues of maintaining: Biological diversity, Optimally functioning ecosystems, Clean water, Clean air and Productive soils. All of which are essential to the environmental, economic and social health and well being of our citizens. Each citizen also has certain responsibilities to maintain the environmental quality that permits a life of dignity and promotes pride in what is uniquely Bahamian. Each of us

should take an active stand in promoting environmental health. When we observe an alarming activity, question it, then report it to the relevant authorities; and when we can do better for our environment…let us do better. While many Bahamians are of the opinion that it is the government’s responsibility to handle issues of climate change and sustainability; many of us are already doing our part to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment for this and future generations. Quite a few of us are consciously deciding to use the clothes line instead of the clothes dryer and carpooling and catching the bus instead of driving personal vehicles. Here are a few commonly overlooked ways of keeping cool and adapting to climate change, that are sustainable and economical. USE AWNINGS Many of the traditional Bahamian houses had awnings or a wide over-hanging roof. This reduces the amount of heat gain from direct sun exposure by as much as 77%. PLANT A TREE Trees are as efficient at temperature regulation as any electronic device around. They allow sunlight in during the cooler months and they grow leaves during the warmer months to block the sunlight. PLANT VINES Wall climbers can dramatically reduce the maximum temperatures of a building by shielding its walls from the sun. (See also footnote). GET A CEILING FAN Moving air evaporates moisture from your skin and keeps you cooler. They can operate instead of or in tandem with your a/c unit. When operating a ceiling fan, you can keep your set the thermostat to a comfortable 78 degrees, which will also reduce energy costs. PAINT YOUR ROOF WHITE In much the same way as ice and snow reflect UV rays at the poles instead of absorbing heat like the oceans do, white roofs help to reflect UV rays and are a cost effective way of keeping your house cool, keeping your electricity bill down and combating climate change all at once. Climate change may be a complicated issue to digest. However, there are many simple ways that individuals can be effective at combating and adapting to this difficult issue. With the implementation of environmental policies that safeguard our environment, protect our national treasures and each of us doing our part; we may be successful at increasing our resilience to climate change and other environmental problems that SIDS like The Bahamas face.

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ANCAT Andros Conservancy and Trust

Coral reefs border most of the northern and eastern coasts of the Bahamian archipelago. The fringing barrier reef lying on the east coast of Andros Island represents the second largest reef complex in the western North Atlantic. This spectacular reef is remote and extends for a distance of approximately 124 miles from the Joulter Cays in the north, to South Cay in the south. Coral reefs are home to millions of species. Fish, corals, lobsters, clams, seahorses, sponges, and sea turtles are only a few of the creatures that rely on reefs for their survival. The Andros Barrier Reef slopes down a vertical cliff that begins 65 feet below the surface and then drops off to over 6,000 feet into a deep ocean trench called the Tongue of the Ocean. This vertical cliff or wall is facing the east and has great sun light penetration allowing for a vast amount of life to flourish along the wall. It also provides one of the most spectacular scuba diving experiences in the region. The Andros barrier reef is famous for its deep water sponges, whales and large schools of fish. It is the only place in the world where there is more than one Nassau Grouper Aggregation. There is a segment of the Andros Barrier Reef on display at the New York Natural History Museum. The coral was removed from the reef from 1923 to 1926 and the displayed dio-rama is a reminder of what the Andros reef once was. Although Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the Earth’s surface, they have the highest biodiversity of any of the marine ecosystems and are known as the “Rainforest of the seas”. Coral reefs are besieged on many fronts: rampant over-fishing removes herbivo-rous fish that keep competitors like seaweed and algae at bay. Also, hurricanes physically batter the reefs, diseases decimate and coastal construction adds to the problems. When a developer cuts down topsoil holding trees, rain washes sediment onto the reefs, consequently smothering the corals. But climate change is the BIG BAD. The greenhouse gases that we pump into the atmosphere create an insulating blanket which warms the seas along with the rest of the planet. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide dissolves in the oceans, making them more acidic and depleting the carbonate ions that corals need to build, making the corals dissolve faster than they can be rebuilt. Hit by the ‘one two’ punch of hotter and more acidic waters, the corals become vulnerable to the threats they face and die. At this point restoration becomes imperative. Coral bleaching occurs when a coral reef is stressed by increased water temperature. If the water temperature is 1-2 degrees higher than normal corals may bleach, expelling zooxanthellae from their tissues and if the tem-perature does not drop

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the corals may die. The number of worldwide bleaching events recorded has dramatically increased as the following data shows: from 1876 to 1979 three bleach-ing events were recorded. 1980 to 1993 saw 60 bleaching events. In 2002 more than 400 bleaching events were recorded. The world’s coral reefs are in danger caused by human activity and climate change.

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hand or using a small brush, Divers also remove snails and fireworms, and check for broken or damaged fragments which will be stabilized at this time. When the corals are big enough to be transplanted into the reef, they will be secured using epoxy. This project brings hope for the future of the Andros Barrier Reef.

“ PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT CORAL REEFS AS A REFLECTION OF THE HEALTH OF THE OCEAN AS A WHOLE IS AN INDICATION THAT OUR LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM, THE OCEAN, IS IN TROUBLE. AND IF IT’S IN TROUBLE, WE’RE IN TROUBLE. ” -Dr. Sylvia Earle

ANCAT DEVELOPS STRATEGIES TO RESTORE CORAL REEF Lying beneath the waves in the Southern Marine Park off Andros, ANCAT and its partners have installed a coral nursery holding 150 elkhorn and staghorn coral fragments. It is anticipated that these fragments will be transplanted onto the coral reef to restore areas where coral has died . In planning the coral nursery, the first step was to choose an appropriate site for the nursery; location, depth and water turbidity were considerations for the team. The block nursery style was decided upon. This method uses cinder blocks as a base to which PVC pedestals were attached with epoxy. The pedestals are used to keep the coral fragments away from the ocean floor and prevent sediment burial and smothering. Pucks were attached to the pedestals using epoxy and provided an attach-ment site for coral nubbins. These pucks will be removed from the pedes-tals and used for the out planting. Small branch clippings from wild donor colonies were collected, stored in a cooler filled with sea water and immediately transferred to the coral nursery site. The speed of this transfer reduced the stress on the fragments, which were placed in the shade to maintain temperature and reduce their exposure to direct sunlight. The coral fragments were then attached to the cinder block bases with epoxy. The coral farm will be observed over the next few months to maintain the coral health and maximize growth and survivorship of the nursery reared corals. During maintenance visits divers remove algae by

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STAGHORN CORAL GROWING IN THE NURSERY


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DIVERS MAINTAINING THE CORAL NURSERY

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REDISCOVER CLIFTON AGE T I R E H NATIONAL PARK

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NESTLED ON THE WESTERN SIDE OF NEW PROVIDENCE, SOUTH OF THE UPSCALE LYFORD CAY COMMUNITY AND NORTH OF CLIFTON PIER ON SOUTH WEST ROAD IS THE CLIFTON HERITAGE NATIONAL PARK.

The property once owned by the Oakes Family became a hot topic in the late 90s early 00s when a Canadian investor(s) intended to purchase hundreds of acres of the property to construct an upscale gated housing community. The people of The Bahamas rejected the idea of a place of such historical significance being developed in such a way. The movement to save Clifton brought together civic and political organizations as well as private citizens. Subsequent to the elections of 2002, the new government bought the portion of land which now comprises the Clifton Heritage National Park for approximately $24 million. In 2004 the Clifton Heritage Authority was established by an Act of Parliament. This body is charged with the management, preservation, promotion and development of Clifton as a national park and cultural heritage site. The Authority’s board is presently chaired by Dr Tracy Thompson and Mario Scott Bannister serves as Managing Director. The park was opened to the public in 2009. 23


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Clifton Heritage National Park is the home of some of the most picturesque and beautiful sights that New Providence has to offer. There is Sacred Space where one can sit and look into the horizon for hours on end. This spot is also where Bahamian artist Antonius Roberts sculpted female figures out of existing tree trunks looking out to sea. It is said that this was done to “mark the triumph of hope and determination to conserve our heritage.” The other attractions at Clifton are just as magnificent. There are beaches for snorkeling and relaxation, wetlands for bird watching, walking trails for hiking, wooden arches for weddings and other social events, gazebos where one can sit and feel the most refreshing ocean breezes and it does not end there. At the heart of the reason for the establishment of the national park is the historical and cultural significance of the property. Clifton was owned by a Loyalist named John Wood more than two hundreds years ago. Mr. Wood had houses built for himself and his slaves, remnants of which are still visible on the property. ‘The Great House” built in 1785, is where Wood resided. It is situated across the street from the Clifton Park offices and gift shop atop a ridge that has a clear view of the ocean. The other structures are scattered along the beach front and other areas of the property. In the 1800s Wood sold his property to William Whylly who named the property ‘Clifton’ after the Whylly Family plantation in Savannah. There were several owners after Mr. Whylly until a fire in 1851. Although the land is now a National Park that is not the end of the work that must be done. Clifton must be rediscovered by Bahamians for the cultural and historical treasure that it is. There is no doubt that what has happened to Clifton to preserve it for Bahamians yet unborn is a good thing. It is recommended to all that find themselves reading this piece, which is really just a short overview of the magnificence that is the Clifton Heritage National Park, make the drive or the trip to see for yourself. 25


C E I S

CEI (CAPE ELEUTHERA INSTITUTE) VISITING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

The Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) was established in 2006 to help facilitate Island School student research while fostering ongoing research projects from partnering universities such as University of Massachusetts, University of Illinois and Carleton University. In addition to its continued support of Island School Students, CEI has developed into a hub for over 600 student visitors a year. Visiting students, from primary school to PhD, come from The Bahamas and international locations such as The United States, Canada, England, and France. Educators and researchers at CEI custom design lesson plans and research objectives based on the interest of each group. Personalized curriculum ranges in focus from marine conservation, to sustainability, to climate change and “green� initiatives. On a local front, The Cape Eleuthera Institute Educational Programs staff is working with South Eleuthera Primary Schools this year in the classrooms to help teachers with Science, Biology, and Conservation issues. The educators help provide curriculum support or supplement existing curricular objectives, culminating this experience with a field trip related to the particular subject area as they model the Island School placed based education initiative. CEI is pleased to be partnered with the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (B.R.E.E.F.) in delivering a Marine Education

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Professional Development Seminar to Educators from around The Bahamas. These educators are exposed to place-based educational practices and experience the advantages of using hands-on learning principles in their classrooms. During the academic school year, CEI provides field trip opportunities for schools. During the summer, several overnight camps are offered for Bahamian students ages 9-13 as well as day camps which support the local Deep Creek Community. In partnership with CEI researchers, Educational Programs offers Shark Week, Turtle Week, and Bonefish Week intensive camps for 16-19 year olds. Financial awards are available to support interested Bahamian students whom CEI is proud to have hosted in a variety of roles within the institute including: research internships, Gap year students, and apprenticeships. CEI is proud to be in The Bahamas sharing their mission with people from all over the world, as well as with Bahamians who already have a keen eye on the challenge faced in the worlds of marine conservation, sustainability, climate change and food security. For more information on programs, to invite an educator to your classroom or to bring your classroom to our campus, contact info@ceibahamas.org.

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SHANE GROSS

PHOTO ESSAY

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Shane Gross is a self-taught, award-winning underwater photographer originally from land locked Saskatchewan, Canada. After putting in years behind a desk he decided to risk it all and move to the ocean. Shane now resides in the Bahamas working professionally as a scuba diving instructor and honing his skills as a photographer. His favorite subjects are the oceans giants; sharks, whales and all the big fish, mammals and reptiles. Shane is a regular contributor to magazines, conservation initiatives and advertising campaigns.Shane’s work has received many awards from organizations such as Underwater Photography Annual Awards, The International Photography Awards, Ocean Art hoto Competition among others. The ocean and her creatures are under threat from every angle and she needs all the help possible. Shane’s highest hope is that his passion for the ocean and photography will help bring awareness to her plight.

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SUMMER CAMPS AND FIELD COURSES

Connecting Students with their Environment

F.R.I.E.N.D.S

camp in Grand Cay in northern Abaco. In total, FRIENDS was able to work with 247 students this summer with the help of nearly 30 volunteers. Camps consisted of ecosystem based classroom activities (art projects and educational games) in the morning, and then an interactive field trip into the ecosystem that afternoon. This summer field trip Last summer’s series of summer sites included wetlands, blue holes, camps proved, yet again, that sea grass beds, beaches and coral Abaco’s students are hungry for reefs. hands on experiences in their environment. Summer camps in After several successful summers Sandy Point and Cooper’s Town FRIENDS is working on plans to were at capacity (and beyond, some make this year bigger and better FRIENDS’ dedicated education days) and both camp sections in with new camp themes and more program began in 2006 with Marsh Harbour had waiting lists! sections to accommodate the a goal to reach out to students FRIENDS’ Education Officer growing number of youth that across Abaco, getting them out Cassandra Abraham was also able to want to participate. By going on organize FRIENDS’ first summer field trips and connecting students 32 The mission of Friends of the Environment (FRIENDS) is to preserve and protect Abaco’s marine and terrestrial environments in order to achieve sustainable living for the wildlife and people of Abaco, Bahamas. The way we choose to approach this mission is through education. We believe that the future of The Bahamas lies in the hands of our youth, so the better prepared they are to face that future, the more our environment will benefit.

of the classroom and into the environment to make connections with our natural resources. Since that time, FRIENDS has provided over 7,000 educational experiences to Abaco’s students through classroom presentations, field trips, after-school programs and summer camps.


with local ecosystems we are providing opportunities that many of them would not have experienced outside of summer camp; the first time snorkeling over a coral reef, the first time swimming in a fresh water blue hole or even learning how to float! Last summer, FRIENDS launched a new specialized field courses designed to connect high school students with researchers and provide a more in depth experience. At this age, many of Abaco’s students are in the process of deciding their course for post high school education, internships and careers and these field courses helped to provide them with the experience necessary to make those decisions and build their resumes. Five pilot field courses were held between June and August and were offered to both Abaconians and visiting students that are on a high school level of science. Small class sizes guaranteed more hands on time and one-on-one experiences with course instructors. Courses were held in partnership with Florida International University, North Carolina State University and the Cape Eleuthera Institute. This summers course topics were: Sea Cucumbers, Jellyfish and Urchins; Bahamas Bats, Birds and Lizards; Surprising Sponges; Sea Turtles; and Bonefish and Flats Ecology. In Bats, Birds and Lizards students were able to go out into the Snake Cay area and conduct field surveys. The Sea Cucumbers, Starfish and Urchins and Sponges courses gave students a chance to perform quadrat surveys on seagrass beds, collect specimens, complete dissections and use dissection microscopes, a first for many of the students. They were also able to perform some experiments out in the field. In the sea turtle course students went out in the boat for surveys, and were able to catch, measure and tag a turtle to assist with conservation efforts. In the bonefish course students used seine nets and fly rods. They learned fly casting techniques, then tied their own flies and put their casting to the test. Bonefish were caught and tagged to contribute to a larger study about bonefish movement in Abaco. Students built new friendships and made lasting connections that will help them in the future. Each class was full, with more students interested in participating, so we are looking forward to continuing and expanding these programs. Look out for information about future courses during fall and spring breaks, and of course next summer! If you are interested in being involved by volunteering, leading a course, or providing sponsorship or support please let FRIENDS know, www.FriendsoftheEnvironment.org 33


BACH BAHAMAS, A CORAL REEF HOPE SPOT “ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT ARE TWO OF THE VALUES THAT HUMAN BEINGS WILL NEED MORE AND MORE!” “NOT MANY OF THE THOUSANDS OF SEA DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD CAN STATE THEY OWN A PERFECT ECOSYSTEM, THE ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS CAN!”

The Bahamas are not only an extraordinary destination for those who wish to live an experience of well being in an unspoiled and protected natural environment, but represent a “Hope Spot”, a point of hope for the ecosystem thanks to the policies that Bahamian Government set in order to preserve and maintain pristine conditions of the environment. Hence the name of the project BACH --Bahamas, Coral Reef Hope Spot -- developed by Professor Maria Berica Rasotto of the Biology Department -- University of Padova. WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT? The BACH project, funded by the Ministry of Tourism of the Bahamas, had as its objective to raise public awareness of marine resources, through direct experience of the positive effects of the institution of Marine Protected Areas, represented by ‘Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park, Exuma Islands, Bahamas., Exuma Islands, Bahamas. This protected marine area, in fact, established in 1958, is an example of the effectiveness of protection for the preservation of marine resources. Among the positive effects of the marine protected

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area, it has been demonstrated that the integrity of food webs and, in particular, the abundance of top predators such as groupers within the protected area, can counter the spread of a species highly invasive lionfish (Pterois sp.), an Indo-足-Pacific species, introduced in the Atlantic Ocean and now widespread throughout the Caribbean. In order to allow many different users to directly experience the effects of protection, the project proposes the observation of two species of small fish, easily visible and recognizable even by non-足 -expert observers through snorkeling: -- Thalassoma bifasciatum, or Bluehead wrasse, a prey of lionfish; -足- Elacatinus evelynae, or sharknose goby, a cleaner species that is not preyed upon by lionfish. By collecting data on the number and behavior of these two species at sites inside and outside the protected marine area, students of the College of the Bahamas, tourists and citizens will be able to directly experience and demonstrate the effectiveness of the protection even on non-足-commercial species. WHAT PROMPTED THE PROJECT? The project was aimed at raise public awareness of the effectiveness of the measures

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implemented by the Bahamian Government since the 1959 for the protection of marine biodiversity. Our mission were to communicate the perfect conditions of the Bahamian sea ecosystem. HOW WAS IT CARRIED OUT? The initiative, supported by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, together with the Bahamas National Trust, provided for the organization of a two-­-week expedition aboard the sailing of an Italian eco-­writer. During the expedition, a researcher, Dott. Carlotta Mazzoldi, and a student at the first year of Master in Marine Biology, Elena Desiderà, from the University of Padova, were involved in data collection and in the observation of the marine ecosystem of the Bahamas, which has become a real model of sustainability. THE DETAILS OF HOW THE PROJECT WAS CARRIED OUT The first phase of the project was aimed at the selection of sampling sites and -­- through snorkeling -­‐ the assessment of the abundance of the two study species and observation of the reproductive behavior of the Bluehead wrasse. We have also included two other species in the study, present in all the sampling sites, the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, and Spotfin butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellatus. For each sampled site the number of observed fish species, as a proxy of biodiversity, has been estimated too. The choice of sites was based on 1) the abundance of the two study species and 2) the accessibility and the level of attendance by tourists. On the basis of the presence and the biological characteristic, during this phase ofwork were considered two other species, the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, and Spotfin butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellatus. Both species are easily recognizable and abundant in the study area and are not preyed upon, at least in the adult stage, by the lionfish. Once evaluated the site’s suitability, each sampling was structured in three main phases:-­ -For 15 minutes (slow observation) sampling was focused on the identification, estimation of abundance and size of the Sharknose goby, usually found above yellow coral heads (Brain corals), in areas of 2-­-4 m deep on average,. --For 10 minutes (fast observation) attention has been paid to estimating the abundance and size of the Spotfin butterflyfish, the Bluehead wrasse, and the Stoplight parrotfish . The last two species are proterogynous hermaphrodites, therefore females may change sex and reproduce as males. Individuals can display two colors: the initial phase (IP) and the terminal phase (TP). TP individuals are sexually mature males, in the Bluehead wrasse they defend reproductive territories. Individuals IP can be either female or male. In the Bluehead wrasse, the relative abundances of individuals with the two color phases have been put in relation with the abundances of the population. For the remaining time, efforts have been devoted to the identification of the species present. A total of three replicates were performed for each of the chosen sites. What were the projects findings? In total 23 samplings were performed in 8 sites, and 5 of these were chosen. During sampling, 95 species , belonging to 36 different families of bony and cartilaginous fish, were observed. Of these species, 11 were observed at all sites and 43 in half of the sampled sites. Among the species sampled, there are species of commercial interest, such as species belonging to the family Serranidae (different species of grouper), the Lutjanidae (different species of snappers), the Sparidae (The Pluma porgy Calamus sea pen) and Haemulidae (different species of grunts). The Lionfish, Pterois spp. Was observed

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at a single site, the Judy’s Reef. Relative to the two study species, the Bluehead wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum, the Stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, and the Spotfin butterflyfish, Chaetodon ocellatus, were present in all sites, while the Sharknose goby, Elacatinus evelynae, was present in 7out of 8 sites. CONCLUSIONS The first phase of the project allowed not only to choose some sampling sites, but also to assess the abundance of the study species, including two other ubiquitous species, S. viride and C. ocellatus, and to develop the methods for the estimation of abundances also by not expert observers. To rule out any damage to the seabed, we’ve chosen to employ a sampling technique “on time” which allows for quantitative estimates of relative abundance without having to lay on the bottom lanyards for measuring areas. The study species are easily visible and recognizable by non--specialists, and reproductive behavior

of T. bifasciatum and S. viride, were easily observed. The sites chosen for the estimation of abundances have several features that can make them interesting beyond the species under study. The high richness of the sampling sites makes them particularly interesting and, starting from the study species, an observer can easily begin to get passionate observations of the behavior of other species. The shallow depth of the sites make easy sampling and observations , even if in most of the sites you need to go only when the tidal currents are less strong (before the change of tide). In addition to the study sites, the site called The Rangers Garden is popular with tourists visiting the Warderick Wells’s Park. Despite the greater depths of this site, which makes it more difficult the observation of E. evelynae, it has a high richness and may be included among the observation sites. Beyond the species under study, sampling within dell’ Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park showed a high species richness, often found at high abundances and with considerable size. The drafting of lists of species for each site could be supporting the activities of snorkeling and sampling for subsequent phases of the project BACH.

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E SR NE E E CF R O GT R Y OM

R

T

his past August, the government of The Bahamas released a statement to the press outlining its intention to reform the energy sector of the country. The release made by Prime Minister Christie stated the objectives of the move and made certain commitments to the Bahamian people. Since taking office this administration has made it clear that the country could not continue down its current path where energy generation is concerned. Not only is it a burden on the people of The Bahamas in the form of high electricity bills but it is also a hindrance to business, the attraction of new investments and is environmentally unfriendly. This move to reform the energy sector was not too surprising given that approximately six months before the announcement Mr. Christie was quoted as saying, “These are issues that concern us and let me just state it for you. The cost of electricity is an extraordinary drain and has an extraordinary impact on Bahamian families. We all agree with that. The impact on investors, for those that exist, is an extraordinary high impact in the sense that investors are telling us, he said, noting that a senior official of the Bahamas

Electricity Corporation (BEC) had recently indicated that the operational costs for investors and commercial entities is as high as 20 per cent. Anyone looking at the economic situation in our country and saying that they want to invest, whether it is in Bimini, whether it is in Grand Bahama, they face this extraordinary, intimidating circumstance of the costs.� In addition to 39


the Prime Minister’s remarks acknowledging the negative impact of the energy sector, there was also the government’s formation of the Energy Task Force charged with advising on solutions to reduce the cost of electricity. The 2013-2014 budget brought with it the elimination of excise taxes on fuel used by BEC, which was forecasted to reduce energy costs by six percent Taxes on LED appliances and solar inverters were also eliminated in order to widen the accessibility of such items to the average Bahamian and Bahamian businesses. The government’s energy release also informed the Bahamian people of it’s intent to issue a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a partner to assist the government in the realignment of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation. Weeks following the government’s announcement Minister Kenred Dorsett, was invited to be the keynote speaker at a luncheon hosted by The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce to address them on the topic of ‘Energy Reform in The Bahamas’. The minister began his address to the business community by stating that the discussion on energy sector reform was “long overdue and desperately needed” in our country. He made the case for the government’s decision to reform the energy sector by stating that “the cost of electricity was a vexing problem that was not only a burden on the Bahamian people but those endeavoring to do business in the country.” He also pointed out that businesses in The Bahamas are having to make the decision to purchase merchandise, make payroll or pay the electricity bill. He said that, “It has become an imperative to conducting and attracting new business ventures successfully in this country for the government of the day, of which I am apart, to move ahead with plans to reduce the burden which this essential service has become on not only the Bahamian people but the Bahamian economy.” The Honorable Minister also explained how power is presently generated in the country and other issues plaguing the sector. He said that, “electricity in most of this country is generated and distributed by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation. This electricity is generated by heavy fuel oil, diesel, and bunker C fuelled generation equipment which is costly to acquire and maintain, relatively inefficient compared to newer fuel technologies, and very environmentally unfriendly. For some years we have experienced rising monthly costs due to the cost of fuel and operational inefficiencies at BEC. We have also experienced what is called load shedding which means that on any given day electricity services could be cut for hours on end. We have tried to ensure that load shedding becomes a thing of the past but when it is experienced, this unreliability only adds to the cost of doing business because of the need to ensure that your business is equipped with a generator. The cost of electricity in The Bahamas has become a problem that we cannot allow to continue to increase while expecting growth within the economy of this country. The two can no longer co-exist.” In regards to the RFP issued, the Minister explained that it was the intent of the government “to create two new BEC entities into which the relevant assets, liabilities and operations of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation will be transferred: The first is a new Transmission and Distribution company (“NewCo”) which will be wholly owned by BEC. This company will be responsible for the operation, maintenance, repair, and expansion of NewCo’s electricity transmission and distribution systems and for billing, collection, customer services and other relevant services across The Bahamas. The second company will be a new Generation Services company. This company will be responsible for the operation, maintenance, repair, financing of BEC’s current electricity generation facilities and certain other assets located across The Bahamas, as well as the development of new power generation plant. It will enter into a Power Purchase Agreement with NewCo. 40


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We are seeking a partner to manage the operations of NewCo, bringing state of the art business practices, processes and technology to the Transmission and Distribution systems. We expect to have clear cost reduction targets and incentives, as well as performance benchmarks embedded into the contract. The performance benchmarks will address issues such as network reliability, average outage periods, frequency of outages, system losses, speed of restoration of power, speed of reconnections, billing punctuality and a number of other issues we currently suffer from.

acquired the services of KMPG Advisory Services, DNV Kema and Hogan Lovells to make recommendations to the government after evaluation of the proposals received. All of the mentioned companies are world leaders in their respective fields.

Minister Dorsett, as he always does, also told those assembled of the use of conservation and renewable energy in the effort to reduce the cost of energy. The minister pointed out ways in which the business community could save energy and money by the proper use of green devices such as LED bulbs, variable refrigerant volume air conditioning units, and In the case of the new Generation Services solar power. company, we are seeking a management and joint venture partner who will offer a The government’s energy reform strategy sustainable solution for the reduction of has a renewable energy component where electricity generation costs through state of is it planned the regulatory framework will the art management practices, processes, be introduced in 2014. The government and enhanced maintenance of equipment, expects to bring on stream by mid 2014 the as well as managing and assisting with the residential energy self generation programme financing and implementation of new more as part of it commitment thirty percent power efficient generation equipment. The above generation from renewable energy sources. will be underpinned not only by robust contracts with the preferred bidder(s), but Minister Dorsett concluded his presentation also by a new regulatory regime which, by asking the business community to support amongst other benefits, will bring direct the government’s efforts as “serious and and independent oversight of the cost of notable strides” have been made by the electricity. The framework of this new regime is government in its quest to change the energy being developed as we speak, and we expect sector for the better. to pass the relevant legislation in early 2014.” At the time of the minister’s presentation the RFP process was in its initial stages where companies were showing great interest in the prospect of partnering with the government of The Bahamas. The second stage of the RFP process was to begin around October 1, 2013 at which point qualified bidders would be required to “undertake due diligence and submit detailed commercial proposals.” In the interest of transparency the government 42


Cooling Conservation Tips

*Set to a higher temperature and use fan to circulate the air. *Use a fan instead of A/C as much as possible *Be sure windows are closed and the blinds or drapes drawn. *Know the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). A/C systems should be at least 15. *Set the temperature at 85 degrees or off when nobody is at home. * Place the condenser in a shaded or cool area to increase efficiency

Environmentally Friendly.........Saves You Money 43


MAKING

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B R E E SUMME 2 0 1 A SPLAS

F R 3 H


The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation ( B R E E F ) celebrated yet another successful summer running its annual Marine Conservation Teacher Training Workshop as well as its Sea Camps for kids on three islands - Eleuthera, New Providence and San Salvador. During the school year BREEF is in and out of classrooms delivering fun, interactive presentations and field trips to students, but when summer rolls around, BREEF immerses students and teachers alike in week-long programmes geared towards marine environmental education and stewardship. Last Summer, BREEF kicked off its summer camp marathon with its second Sea Camp in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera themed Eleuthera Discovery. BREEF’s Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert thoroughly enjoys bringing the summer camp to the island she calls home.“BREEF’s goal is to encourage people of all ages to take action to protect our precious marine resources. There is no better way to do this than to provide people with firsthand experiences in the water”. Based at the Haynes Library, BREEF Sea Campers were engaged in hands-on learning about the marine ecosystems that make Eleuthera special. Field trips to the northern and southernmost parts of the island and snorkeling every afternoon, made the camp a splashing success! BREEF’s second event was its 15th annual Teacher Training Workshop held at the Gerace Research Centre in San Salvador for twentyeight teachers from primary and secondary schools throughout the Bahamas. Workshop participant Jacquelyn Williams-Argyle, of Sister Mary Patricia Russell Junior High School in Grand Bahama is excited to return to school after she was exposed to a ‘whole new world’, “What was most exciting was the opportunity to snorkel. For the first time, I stepped out of my comfort zone and ventured into the ocean where I discovered the coral reefs as I have never seen them before. The sight was breathtaking and much more exciting than reading about it in a textbook. Conservation suddenly makes sense”. Teacher William Simmons from the Deep Creek Middle School has already put what he learned into action by incorporating the activities from the workshop into a summer camp in his home town of Harbour Island. “Thank you! Because of you guys, Carolla Walker and I, both BREEF trained teachers and both from Harbour Island, were able

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to collaborate and put together a marine exploration component to our camp. Today mangroves, tomorrow sea grass and one lucky group will get to do reefs next week. Students will be making a presentation to the community at the end, I am hoping to have them show a little about BREEF’s work”. The following week at the Gerace Research Center, BREEF held its San Salvador Sea Camp. This year’s theme was based on the children’s book, The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia. The story is about Maria, a Bahamian Hutia, who was swept from her island in a violent storm and received help from other Bahamian animals to find her way home. The Sea Campers learned about native Bahamian animal characters in the book including crawfish, iguanas and Sea Birds, learned how to snorkel in the beautiful bays of San Salvador and practiced a play that was presented to their community at the Graham’s Harbour Goombay festival. BREEF’s final summer activity, Marine and Con’ZOO’vation Summer camp, was held at the Ardastra Gardens August 12th – 16th. Through this year’s theme “MPAs, Zoos and You”, Sea Campers learned about the role of marine protected areas and zoos in conservation. Interactive activities geared towards encouraging environmental stewardship helped campers embrace their role in caring for the marine environment. Campers practiced their snorkeling skills each afternoon, with trips to different beaches each day, and a visit to the Atlantis aquarium. A highlight of the camp was a field trip with Stuart Cove’s that gave campers the chance to use their new snorkeling skills at an offshore reef at the western end of New Providence and even see sharks in their natural habitat. BREEF is looking forward to continuing its school programmes and to developing educational materials to support marine conservation education in schools. This year BREEF celebrates its 20th anniversary as a Bahamian non-profit, marine conservation organization with a mission to promote the sustainable use of our marine environment through education, research and public policy. BREEF would especially like to recognize its many summer camp and teacher workshop members, volunteers, partners and sponsors including Craig Symonette, Lady Nuttall, Niven Nutt, Bennet Atkinson, Dake Gonzalez, J.A. McKinney, the Ardastra Gardens, the Bahamas National Trust, Georgia College, The Moore Charitable Foundation, Haynes Library, the Kerzner Marine Foundation, Ministry of Environment and Housing, One Eleuthera Foundation, Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, The Nature Conservancy, US Embassy, The WAITT Foundation, The Gerace Research Center and numerous BREEF volunteers. For more information, and to support our programmes contact BREEF at 327-9000 or like B.R.E.E.F. on Facebook.

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NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL

CONCLAVE The Ministry of the Environment and Housing held the country’s very first National Environmental Conclave this past January. Many ministry partners gathered to contribute to discussions on the way forward for the Bahamian environment. Organizations such as the Bahamas National Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Andros Conservancy and Trust (ANCAT), the Island School of Cape Eleuthera, various private companies and government ministries, departments and agencies sent representatives to the event. On hand at the opening ceremonies, which were presided over by Environment and Housing Under Secretary David Cates, were Permanent Secretary Camille Johnson and Minister responsible for the Environment and Housing, Hon. Kenred Dorsett, who was the keynote speaker and officially opened the three day event. Following a warm welcome and introduction by Ms. Johnson, the minister began his remarks by stating that the significance of the gathering was not “just that we have gathered to discuss matters pertaining to the Bahamian environment but that we are Bahamians who have gathered to discuss matters pertaining to the environment of The Bahamas and the way forward.” Mr. Dorsett also said that the conclave is a step toward

his goal of “ensuring that there is a road map that charts the course in regard to environmental matters based on stakeholder input and that the consensus arrived at would not be hampered by or pinned to the five year election cycle.” The minister spoke fondly of his appreciation of the Bahamian environment and informed that he had gained a greater appreciation since becoming minister. Mr. Dorsett said that, “although we are still a developing nation, the beauty and diversity which the Bahamian environment holds should be protected zealously for and by the Bahamian people.” Highlighted in the presentation were some of the accomplishments of the Ministry of the Environment and Housing thus far as regards the environment. The minister said that, “we have introduced and implemented plans, tabled legislation and advanced policy positions which I think are taking the country in the right direction.” He outlined the introduction of the government’s new energy strategy and the realignment of BEC through the issuance of a Request for Proposals. The tabling of legislation such the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Bill the objective 47


of which “is to provide a legal framework to ensure sustainable financing into perpetuity for the management of protected areas in The Bahamas.” The amendments made to the Forestry Act which were sought to “vest lands in the minister in order that he may be able to declare the national forest estate, for classification as forest reserves, protected forests and conservation forests.” The minister also said that he intends very shorty to table legislation that will establish the Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority. Accomplishments made by the Department of Environmental Health Services were highlighted as well. Recently the DEHS has been successful in its initiatives regarding the improvement of residential garbage collection and the eradication of Shanty Towns. The minister forecasted that in the next year his ministry intends to advance the following: a vehicles emissions regulation (a draft bill would have been circulated during the conclave to begin the public consultation process) and a bill for the establishment of the Environmental Protection and Planning agency, an effort which began in 2005. The minister promised to push this in this term in office so that there will always be a minister responsible for the environment and an agency equipped and trained to advance the environmental agenda. The minister also mentioned his intentions to advance new environmental regulations for the oil exploration and production sector, the Freeport Environmental Bye-Laws, a bill for the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund and a bill for the protection and conservation of coral reefs. Lastly, he promised the advancement of the involvement of Bahamian environmental firms in providing advice to the government instead of our heavy reliance on Non-Bahamian advice, to begin the process of putting Bahamians first in this lucrative sector and building Bahamian capacity. The minister challenged those assembled stating that, “when we leave this place after spending these three days in discussion, we must move forward with the understanding that though we may not always agree on the details we are all working towards one common goal, which is the protection of the Bahamian environment. With this in mind we should leave this conclave on one accord concerning the way forward and resolve to ensure that our respective departments, agencies and organizations work together in the furtherance of this most noble cause. The conclave was also addressed by various other representatives of the government, private organizations and environmentalists presenting and discussing topics pertaining to the advancement of The Bahamas regarding the protection and preservation of the environment. 48


B

RAPID ECOLOGICAL ASSESSMENTS

NT Parks and Science officers worked in Abaco and Grand Bahama in July to conduct Rapid Ecological Assessments to assess the current condition of representative habitats along with the marine resources of the Marls and Cross Harbour, Abaco and East Grand Bahama. Coral Reef and Mangrove assessments were done for Cross Harbour and the Marls with bonefish assessments also being carried out at Cross Harbour (a known bonefish pre-spawning site). On the other hand, coral reef, mangrove, bonefish, avian and plant assessments were conducted for East Grand Bahama (south of McClean’s Town). Dr. Aaron Adams led the bonefish team, Dr. Ethan Fried led the terrestrial team and Krista Sherman led the marine team. The team surveyed 28 sites in Abaco and over 50 sites in Grand Bahama. Data analyses have not been conducted yet, however based on visual observations, the reefs in Abaco appear to be healthier than the reefs in East Grand Bahama – i.e. good coral diversity and rugosity (i.e. structural complexity), fish diversity, abundance and biomass. The pillar coral Dendrogyra cylindrus, an endangered species was observed during surveys on one of the forereefs. The creeks, seagrass and offshore reefs in Cross Harbour are also home to many juvenile sea turtles and Queen conch. The Marls although quite extensive, contain a considerable amount of dwarf mangrove, but it is a highly productive system and an important area for bonefish, juvenile lemon sharks, grunts and snappers. The mangrove systems in East Grand Bahama are quite unique – containing numerous blue holes and in some creeks mini reef habitats within the creek’s channel. One of the coral species observed in the creek, 49


Acropora prolifera is an important branching coral and a hybrid between Acropora palmata (Elkhorn coral) and Acropora cervicornis (Staghorn coral) .Rainbow parrotfish (rarest and the largest species of parrotfish found in The Bahamas) were observed within several of the mangroves surveyed in both Abaco and East Grand Bahama. Many southern stingrays, juvenile lemon sharks and a few spotted eagle rays were also observed in both locations. Some of mangrove islands within East Grand Bahama appear to be important foraging or breeding areas for a variety of birds including Herons, Ibises, Cormorants, Frigatebirds, Pelicans and Roseate spoonbills. The bonefish team caught 900 bonefish and tagged 800 of these fish. The mark and recapture techniques provide insight into the size distribution of the fishery and will also allow the identification of essential habitats. Significant tagging has been done throughout The Bahamas as part of The Bahamas Initiative and the work done on East GB, Marls and Cross Harbour will all feed into that Bahamas-wide movement study. Previous Bahamas-specific studies have revealed that the vast majority of bonefish recaptures, once released, occurs within a mile or two of where they were tagged, whether the time between tag and recapture was a few days or more than a year. Although bonefish travel relatively long distances, it is believed this movement is seasonal and related to spawning. Other than these seasonal spawning movements, bonefish show strong site fidelity hence narrowing down important habitats that need to be protected. 50


Vegetation assessments were conducted on three cays (Big and Little Thrift Harbour Cays and Lightbourne Cay) at the east end of Grand Bahama. The vegetation was intact and in good condition except the beach strand/dune systems. The entire shoreline communities and starting to get into the mangrove systems was invaded by Casuarina equisetifolia. The Casuarina invasion is at a second stage where the original dune was invaded and the trees fell over and the dune system shrank as sand was lost inland. Since that time new Casuarina has grown in the remaining dune system but will reach a stage in the coming years where a large storm will topple them and the remaining sand on the dune will be washed inland and the shorelines will become a low diversity exposed limestone iron/rocky shore line. Lightbourne Cay had extensive populations of bromeliads and orchids including populations of the endemic Encyclia fehlingii (Known only to four islands groups). Lightbourne Cay had the highest level of taxonomic and habitat diversity. This is not surprising as it is much larger than Big and Little Thrift Harbour Cays. All three island groups had extensive fringing Rhizophora mangle Shrubland/Forests (Red Mangroves) and interior wetlands comprised primarily of Avicennia germinans/ Laguncularia racemosa shrublands (Black and White Mangroves). Most of the interior wetlands are flooded at high tides and storm events. The information obtained from the REAs will be included in the proposal to the government for the establishment of National Parks in the areas surveyed. The establishment of National Parks in these areas would contribute to the protection of ecologically and commercially important species (e.g. parrotfish, snappers, conch, bonefish etc.) and their habitats. The REA’s are supported by a grant from Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and the Grand Bahama REA was also supported with in kind support from Deep Water Cay.

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SHANTY TOWN PROGRESS For decades in The Bahamas there has been the presence and steady proliferation of Shanty Towns. The Department of Environmental Health Services conducted inspections on these towns to ascertain their impact on the environment. A report which was subsequently released to the media described these as, “overcrowded with illegal/poorly constructed dwellings, improper or no

sewage disposal systems, compounded with derelict vehicles and garbage accumulation which give rise to the breeding of rodents, mosquitoes and other disease carrying vectors.” The inspections conducted where

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not restricted to the capital but where done around the country. The findings which are also in the report were alarming but not unexpected. What may be surprising to some citizens is the fact that the inspections revealed that there is an “....increasing number of Bahamians (or persons who claim to be Bahamian) who live in or frequent these towns.” The

Act” to manufacture coal, that only three of the forty six water samples taken met World Health Organization standards “all others failed with high fecal coliform counts” and that the “number of sanitary conveniences was not in proportion to the population.” Also a concern documented was the storage of open bottles which “gives rise to mosquitoes and other disease carrying vectors.”

inspectors also found a number of environmental infractions within these towns and practiced by their occupants. The reports detailed that the Bahamian Pine was being “utilized in disregard to the Forestry

Thought for years to be ‘Haitian Villages’, as mentioned these towns have become home to Bahamians and the conditions found in these towns unfortunately can be found in the ‘ova da hill’ areas of New Providence as well. These towns are well populated, the highest population on New Providence was found in the Northwestern District which encompasses Carmichael Road and the surrounding areas. The largest village, however was located in the Southwestern district with a total house count of 227. Inspections were also conducted on the Family Islands among them were Eleuthera, Central Andros, Exuma and Abaco.


Prior to the release of the Shanty Town Report it was announced by Minister Dorsett that a special project unit would be established to “address infractions and environmental concerns surrounding shanty towns.” This special project unit is headed by Asst. Director of the DEHS, Lennard Miller. The minister also said that there would be prosecutions where necessary and that there would be a multi government agency effort to ensure that these towns are brought up to code or demolished. To emphasis the government’s commitment to the make progress with Shanty Towns and to see what was happening first hand, Prime Minister Perry Christie along with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Alfred Gray as well as Minister Dorsett. Significant progress has been made by the Special Project Unit since it’s establishment. Several shanty towns on the island of New Providence have been demolished. According to Mr. Miller, head of the unit, in some instances the landowners and occupants have assisted them by moving out and tearing down the makeshift structures themselves. In December 2013 Minister Dorsett took members of the

media on a tour to ensure that the Bahamian people were kept abreast of the progress. Accompanying the minister were Lennard Miller and other DEHS personnel, as well as personnel from Ministry of Works and Urban Development. The inspection proved fruitful as the Joe Farrington Road, Seabreeze Lane Carmichael Road shanty towns were all but eradicated. Shortly after this the Minister left the capital to attend a meeting of the United Nations Habitat themed ‘Sustainable City Days’ which was held in New York City. He was accompanied by H.E. Elliston Rahming, Bahamas Ambassador to the United Nations. UN Habitat is “the United Nation’s agency for human settlements” and is “mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally

sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.” While at the meeting the Minister was interviewed where he stated, “it becomes critically important for us (The Bahamas) in view of the Millennium Development Goals, to have a sustained effort in respect to reducing and or eradicating those slum communities. The majority of which represent public health concerns and issues for us. But it is part and parcel of the government’s mandate to improve the living standards of our people.” In January 2014, the DEHS special unit visited another Shanty Town, this time in the Faith Avenue area with a view to beginning the process of eviction. Special focus has also been placed on the shanty town known as ‘The Mud’ in Abaco where a fire erupted shortly after New Years reportedly killing two persons and leaving many others homeless. There can be no doubt that progress has been made on this long standing hot button issue. For the first time in many years Bahamians can see and have seen where the relevant agencies have made the commitment and followed through to ensure that the living standards of the persons within these shanty towns come to an end.

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The Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (the Corporation) office in Freeport, Grand Bahama was opened followed was established by an act of Parliament in 1983. The act in the year 2000 by another office being opened on the mandates that the Corporation carry out the following island of Abaco. functions: Since its establishment thirty years ago, the Corporation • Stimulate, encourage and promote the ownership has been an integral part of the economy of The Bahamas of homes by individuals for their own occupancy granting government guaranteed loans to low to middle by making available to them the necessary financial income persons and families for the purchasing of funding on such terms and conditions as the government built homes. A little known fact is that the Corporation determines; Corporation not only facilitates financing to persons • Encourage through the application of its financial acquiring government homes but it also offers the same resources the construction industry in the provision services to persons wanting to buy or build privately. of new or improved accommodation for housing; This service is like that offered by any of the other • In cooperation with any other person to implement approved lending institutions except the rate of interest proposals by providing financial funding for the is much lower standing presently at two percent above construction of housing units and projects; the prime rate. The Corporation has amassed a loan • Make loans to persons for enabling them in portfolio of over One Hundred Million Dollars, the purchasing, building or rehabilitating, as the case majority of which accounts for mortgages to persons may be, their respective residential premises: living in government built homes/subdivisions. • Make loans to persons engaged in the construction of housing units or projects; and Per its act the Corporation can also offer bonds for • Mobilize funds for the purposes of granting purchase with the Central Bank of The Bahamas mortgages. acting as its authorized agent. In 2008, at the 25th anniversary celebrations of the BMC, the then Prime The Corporation began its operations on the ground Minister announced that a $15 million Bahamas floor of the Boulevard Building, Thompson Blvd. Mortgage Corporation bond issue was over subscribed. on October 10th, 1983. At the time the minister The sinking fund has a group of trustees which are responsible was former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. comprised of the Chairman of the Board of BMC, a Hubert A. Ingraham. The first chairman of the board public officer nominated by the Minister of Finance, a was Sir William Allen and the founding Managing member of the Corporation nominated by the Minister Director Mrs. Ruth Millar, other persons to hold the and a finally a person nominated by the Central Bank. post of managing director over the years are Mr. E. Leslie Johnson, Mr. Paul L. King, Mr. Rory Higgs, In recent years the Corporation has embarked on a and Mr. Jerome Godfrey. In 1988, after the Boulevard campaign to revitalize its public image and operations. Building location was deemed no longer appropriate The staff has acquired professional uniforms and due to size, the head offices were moved to its current participates in training and team development seminars location on Russell Road. The Corporation has two on a regular basis. The Corporation introduced new sub-offices within the Family Islands. In 1984, an computer programmes and systems adopted for better 54


customer service and inter office communications. A new website was commissioned and is now fully operational at www.bmcbahamas.com. The company logo was revamped to a more modern version that depicts the name of the Corporation along with a representation of a home under the Bahamian sunshine. The executive team was also revitalized by the acquisition of the services of an in-house Corporate Attorney, Director of Operations, Financial Controller and Asst. Financial Controller. All of this was done to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of the Corporation to better serve the Bahamian people.

thirty (30) years of existence and operation this year (2013), our aim is to ensure that the services offered at the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation are here for the utilization of future generations. This is why we

The Corporation also intensified its efforts as concerns collection of funds from delinquent clients. Of late members of the executive team along with the Chairman of the Board have made appearances on local newscasts and radio talk shows appealing to customers who are having difficulty making their monthly payment to contact the corporation. This course of action bolsters the efforts of the agents in the collections department of the Corporation who make regular calls, send correspondence and visit clients. This department has also conducted walk abouts in the various communities to ensure the state of vclients. Undoubtedly the Corporation has lived up to its mandate thus far assisting thousands of Bahamians with financing for the building, renovation and or purchasing of existing homes. As we celebrate

Sen. Hon. Alex Storr 55


have doubled our efforts in ensuring the policies and organizational structure of the Corporation is sound and effective. As like any other organization growth is an ongoing process at the Corporation and we will continue to grow and improve to better serve the Bahamian people. Here’s to another thirty years. Current Minister with Responsibility Hon. Kenred M.A. Dorsett Minister of the Environment and Housing Current Board of Directors Chairman - Sen. Hon. Alex Storr Deputy Chairman – Mr. Kevin Stuart Board Members Mr. Dwayne Davis Bishop Albert Hepburn Ms. Barbara Cartwright Mr. Leon Griffin Ms. Vanria Munnings Mr. Mario Bannister Current Executive Team Managing Director – Mrs. Sandra Storr Director of Operations – Mr. Terrance Hanna Financial Controller – Mr. Brian Albury Asst. Financial Controller – Mr. Nikita Curtis Corporate Attorney – Ms. Shirl Deveaux

Mrs. Sandra Storr

STAY INFORMED Like Us on Facebook www.facebook.com/ministryofeh -Speeches -Press Releases -Magazine Issues -Photos -Public Notices 56


GOVERNMENT HOUSING PROGRAMME The government’s housing programme is off and running with its latest round of new home construction. The Minister responsible for housing, Hon. Kenred Dorsett, signed an agreement with the National Insurance Board to fund the construction of new homes. A press conference was held to document the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at which members of the media were informed by Minister Dorsett of plans for the advancement of the housing programme and were also given details of the agreement. The funding provided for in the agreement is set to be dispersed over a period of time in equal tranches for the construction of over one hundred homes. Minister Dorsett said that these homes would be constructed in existing subdivisions where there is established infrastructure and available lots. The agreement also calls for the engagement of a financial adviser for the project as well as a project manager. Of the new construction programme, Minister Dorsett said that his ministry will be engaging the services of “private inspectors with adequate indemnity insurance who will sign off on the end of the five stages of our usual construction process to ensure that at the end of the day we will be able to not only pursue the contractors but also pursue those who have signed off on various stage payments�. While awaiting the first tranche of funds from the National Insurance Board the staff at the Department of Housing busied themselves improving processes to better serve the Bahamian people and to offer value for money. One such improvement was the addition of the new applications processing unit headed by Mr. Harold Williams. This unit is responsible for the new online database which the Department now uses to store the records of

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its clients who can now apply online from anywhere as long as they have internet access. This unit is also on hand everyday to assist those citizens who may not have access to computers or the web. The database has proven to be an excellent tool for clients and staff alike and a mechanism by which statistical reports can be generated in a timely fashion. Working along with the Applications Processing Unit is Mr. Kurth Wallace whose mandate is to assess the financial position of applicants as regards their qualification for mortgages and also to liaise with the private banks which have agreed to facilitate mortgages for those clients who qualify. It was sought to have new housing models drafted and approved by the Ministry of Works and Urban Development. Some of these models have been erected in a pilot programme using modern construction methods in an effort to ascertain whether these methods can be permanently incorporated into the government’s housing scheme. On February 27, 2014 during his communication to the House of Assembly on the Mid Year Budget debate, Minister Dorsett announced that construction had begun in the government’s new housing programme. He also stated that his ministry was in possession of $2.5 million from the National Insurance Board for construction purposes. Subsequently the minister announced the granting of twenty three contract to Bahamian companies for the construction of homes in the Strachan’s Hill Subdivision via press release. In his statement the minister said that “these contracts not only demonstrate the government’s commitment to helping Bahamians achieve home ownership but also provide employment predominately to Bahamian men.” Minister Dorsett also announced plans to begin construction in other parts of New Providence and the family island stating that, “we will begin construction in Grand Bahama shortly and also move to construct new homes in Fire Trail Subdivision and Romer Street in Fox Hill when the second tranche of funding is received from the National Insurance Board.

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Ministry of the Environment and Housing

Department of Housing ONLINE DATABASE

www. dohbahamas . com APPLY ONLINE FOR GOVERNMENT BUILT HOMES 59


CONSERVE TO PRESERVE OUR ENVIRONMENT

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ECO BAHAMAS MAGAZINE ISSUE II  

Environmental magazine produced by the Ministry of the Environment and Housing

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