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Bahamas hosts marine pollution awareness workshops

The Ministry of Transport and Aviation held a three-day National Workshop on marine pollution in Nassau November 13-15. Pictured: Peter Deveaux Isaacs, Transport and Aviation under secretary, addresses the participants of the workshop November 13. (BIS Photo/Raymond Bethel) 

Friday, November 16, 2012
Friday, November 16, 2012

The Ministry of Transport and Aviation held a three-day workshop on the ratification, implementation, and enforcement of MARPOL, November 13-15, at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Coral Harbour Base.

MARPOL is the common reference for the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.

The government welcomed the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Regional Unit for the Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CAR/RCU) and RAC/REMPEITC-CARIBE to The Bahamas to discuss strategies that control ocean pollution and other environmental health hazards that threaten the safety of ecotourism.

“The Bahamas government has a long history of establishing policy, and regulations to protect the marine environment,” said Peter Deveaux Isaacs, under secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation.

The Bahamas was the first country in the region, and the ninth globally, to ratify the Protocol on Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (or LBS Protocol), under the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (or Cartagena Convention).

The Bahamas government ratified the protocol in 2010.

Deveaux Isaacs said these actions were undertaken because the Bahamas’ marine environment is the repository for one of the largest reef systems in the world, and, combined with extensive tidal creek ecosystems, supports fisheries well beyond its borders.

He said that The Bahamas, as a leader in the tourism sector, enjoys the privilege of hosting millions of visitors annually, many who come to enjoy the nation’s pristine coastal environment.

He reminded the participants that The Bahamas receives thousands of international yachts that make use of the country’s exceptionally beautiful coastal areas and harbours, along with hundreds of cruise ship arrivals, supporting the largest sector of the Bahamian economy.

The under secretary said this is the reason that the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of the marine environment is much more than an environmental issue for The Bahamas; it is also a social, economic and developmental imperative.

“Like other small island developing states around the world, The Bahamas faces many challenges in dealing with marine pollutants, given the constraints of our archipelagic geography, infrastructure, and human, financial, and technical resources necessary for enforcement,” he said.

One-day conference on the Family Island to be held next week is expected to address topics such as tourism challenges, economic growth and airlift to the island.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe says that pre-bookings for Thanksgiving and Christmas are up year on year. Watch an interview with the MInister here.

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