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    Bahamas Finally Acts on Marine Protection

    By Keith R | January 23, 2009

    Topics: Marine/Coastal Issues | No Comments »

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    Nearly two years ago I did a post about a terrific National Geographic article on the dangers of unchecked real estate and tourism development on the Bahamas’ marine habitats, and how in the end, the Bahamas may lose far more than they’d gain from ripping up mangroves to build hotels, golf courses and marinas.

    Thanks to relentless campaigning by conservation advocates and by the Bimini Biological Field Station (which studies lemon sharks there), the Bahamian cabinet quietly created a marine reserve off North Bimini on 29 December, but only announced the decision last week.  Under the the area’s new status, further clearing of the nearby mangrove will be blocked and most fishing will be banned.  Traditional land crabbing will be permitted, as will controlled catch-and-release bonefish fishing.

    According to a Washington Post article on the decision, the director of the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (“BEST Commission“) says that this decision has been a long time coming: Prime Minister Ingraham had considered establishing it before his party lost power in 2002.  Once he returned to power in 2007, the Bimini question returned to the government’s environment agenda.

    The apparent big loser by this decision: Bimini Bay Resort and Marina.  The BEST Commission has conditioned any further development, including a planned golf course, on the resort proving that the development will not harm the reserve.

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