Golf Courses, Locals and Megadevelopments

September 15, 2012 | Island Conflicts

Bimini's Mangrove Trouble Continues

The following photographs from the Bimini Marine Protected Area Facebook page show the North Sound area before development:

Bimini before development

And after land had been cleared for development.

Bimini Real Estate Troubles

Locals fought to protect this area from the Bimini Bay Resort's large footprint, and won. However, new plans have the Bimini Bay Resort guaranteeing the completion of a golf course. This is unfathomable. Conservationists and Bimini stakeholders must once again come together to halt the Bimini Bay Resort.

Bimini Bay Golf Course

A sales associate confirmed that the development plans a golf course.

November 11, 2010 | whereabouts

Bimini Bay Resort is in Trouble

BiminiA lot is going on in the world of unsustainable golf developments. The biggest news, of course, is that big golf development are failing. For example, here is some news from Bimini. Bimini Bay Resort, the golf and marina resort that would have swallowed up much of North Island's mangroves, was, at least for now, successfully restricted from doing so.

Now that the resort is up and running, it appears not to be doing very well. An article in today's Tribune supports this view with this article. The article begins, "The luxury resort Bimini Bay has laid off 31 people from its 119-member staff because of low occupancy, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes confirmed yesterday."

The article also says, "tourists are favouring smaller properties like Big Game that give them a Family Island experience." The Tribune has it spot on here: mega-mansion resorts are a thing of the past. While its always sad when real people lose their jobs, the bigger story is that developments like these destroy island economies, and that in the long run, the good folks who lost their jobs at Bimini Bay Resort will be better off in a healthier economy free of big megaresorts like this.

Here are two excellent videos explaining the Bimini Bay Resort's impact on the environment:

 

 

June 18, 2012 | Island Conflicts

Mexico Cancels Golf Course and Marina Megadevelopment over Coral Reef Fears

"...This type of tourist development, based on mass scale and golf courses, is no longer acceptable in Mexico..."

Cabo Pulmo National Park

A stunning victory for the North American Pacific's third largest coral reef was handed down by the Mexican President this weekend, sending shockwaves and making page one headlines around the world.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon cancelled the Cabo Cortes Megadevelopment project, stating that the project failed to prove that it would not damage the environment.

The Cabo Cortés Megadevelopment project, which has striking similarities to the Bakers Bay project in the Northern Bahamas, was a proposed large golf and marina megadevelopment project with densely-packed housing. Construction would have been adjacent to a rare west-coast coral reef, which has been championed worldwide for its response to conservation projects after over-fishing has severely depleted life at the reef.

Articles:

NRDC Article on Victory
"...However, several years ago, the Spanish real estate developer Hansa Urbana laid out plans for the Cabo Cortés real estate and tourism complex. The company planned to construct 13,000 housing units, 3,655 hotel rooms (together this is equivalent to about 30,000 rooms), some 2 million square feet of office and commercial space as well as a 490-slip marina, a “private” jet port, schools, and at least two golf courses.... In response to Cabo Cortés threat, local groups organized and took action. Regional and national groups joined the fight, and created a vibrant coalition called Cabo Pulmo Vivo. When Hansa Urbana stepped up its pressure on the government to approve the project, this coalition did not back down. Instead, they reached out to international groups, such as NRDC, to help protect Cabo Pulmo. Together, we made the legal, scientific, environmental, social and financial cases against the project: "

Los Angeles Time Article

"The Cabo Cortes project was not only unsustainable, it was also illegal," said Greenpeace Mexico Executive Director Patricia Arendar. "Mexico needs accountability, transparency in the authorization of projects of this kind, and guarantees that environmental rights will be respected."

BusinessWeek Article

"This sets an important precedent and sends an important message to Mexican and international investors, that this type of tourist development, based on mass scale and golf courses, is no longer acceptable in Mexico," Vidal said.

Washington Post Article

"...Instead, Calderon says, the government will help the nearby former fishing village of Cabo Pulmo improve its services in a small-scale, sustainable way. The village now has a couple of fish joints and three dive shops, some sandy roads and a few rustic inns, most without AC. The town runs on solar power, just enough to keep the beer cold."

BBC Article

Speaking from his official residence, President Calderon said that "because of its size we have to be absolutely certain that it wouldn't cause irreversible damage, and that absolute certainty simply hasn't been proved".

Miami Herald Article

"...The environmental and natural resources secretariat under Calderon had drawn withering criticism from foreign scientists for giving an initial green light to the project. And Greenpeace Mexico has basically suggested that payoffs may have led the secretariat to let the project continue until today, approving it at two levels..."

April 4, 2012 | Island Conflicts

Bontang, Indonesia Reefs Damaged

This article from the Jakarta Globe explains the role of coastal factors on the decline of coral reefs off Bontang:

Laode said that in the 1990s, the condition of Bontang’s coral reefs were excellent. This all changed, he said, when big businesses began to enter Bontang, famous for its rich gas reserve and coal deposits. 

Bontang is also home to Indonesia’s biggest state-owned fertilizer company, Pupuk Kaltim. 

March 20, 2012 | Island Conflicts

Thailand Coral Reefs destroyed by Coastal Development

An article about coral reef destruction near Phuket, Thailand:

Boonchop Sutthamanaswong, directorgeneral of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department, said he had had many complaints about land development and building of resorts in coastal areas like Laem Singh beach in Phuket.

The construction had released sediment, including sand and cement, into the sea and affected coral reefs and seagrass.

"Many resorts and hotels are now being built in the mountains near coastal areas reserved for the tourist industry. These land development projects are affecting the marine ecosystem. We could not see the impact in the short term but in the longterm, these marine resources will be totally destroyed," he said.

To prevent further damage to marine resources, Boonchop said his agency would talk with the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning about stricter controls under the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for land development near coastal areas.

Read the full article

March 19, 2012 | Island Conflicts

Mexicans Fight Controversial Baja Mega-Development to Save Coral Reef

Environmental organizations, coral reef organizations and concerned Mexican citizens are increasing the heat to cancel a large megadevelopment adjacent to one of only three coral reefs found on the west coast of North America.

Here is a good overview of the issue:

 

Here is some recent press:

Mexico resort plans under threat from local activists

Greenpeace Launches Campaign Against Mexican Resort Project

Baja Tourist Project Continues to Catch Heat

Mexico's Senate joins the list of groups questioning Cabo Cortés

Cousteau: Mexican Pacific Mega-Project Would be "Another Cancun"

May 23, 2011 | Island Conflicts

National Geographic on Cabo Pulmo Golf Course

However, Cabo Pulmo is now under serious threat. In March, Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources approved a proposal to develop a mega-resort called “Cabo Cortés.” This development would include 15 large hotels with over 30,000 hotel rooms, three to five golf courses, a 490-slip marina, desalination and water treatment plants, a private jet strip, and other infrastructure, adjacent to and directly north of Cabo Pulmo. Scientists and conservationists believe that the influx of mass tourism and population growth will put unsustainable pressure on the protected reefs – through changes in water quality, turbidity, pollution, fertilizers and chemicals used on the golf courses, and illegal fishing. According to experts in the region, the environmental impact assessment provided by the developers does not fulfill rigorous scientific requirements.

Read the full post.

March 11, 2011 | Island Conflicts

Greenpeace Joins Fight against Gulf of California Golf Megadevelopment

From the Latine American Herald Tribune: Greenpeace criticized the Mexican government’s decision to allow a Spanish real-estate developer build a giant tourist complex near the only coral reef in the Gulf of California.

The environmental watchdog, which last August joined with several non-governmental organizations in opposing the Cabo Cortes project, said Thursday that Mexico’s Environment Secretariat “is not fulfilling its commitment to protect the environment” by paving the way for the destruction of the Cabo Pulmo reef.
Read the rest

September 10, 2010 | Island Conflicts

A Not So Jolly Harbour in Antigua

Map of Antigua

The Great Guana Cay blog seeks to collect examples of the conflicts between natives versus real estate developers in the Caribbean Basin. Almost all of these stories relate to each other, with hauntingly similar endings. A marine scientist working in the Caribbean sent me some information on the case of Jolly Harbour. I will paraphrase from some background material:

In 1988 on the island of Antigua, of the Caribbean Nation Antigua & Barbuda, a foreign developer asked the Antigua government for permission to build a massive megaresort on the west coast of the island. The project was massive, promising 1,500-2,000 rooms.

The government approved the sale of 53 acres of land for a much-lower-than-market-value. The land was mostly salt ponds and mangrove swamps.

In 1989, construction began, and shoreline vegetation and mangroves were removed, and a channel was cut through the area called Mosquito Cove. The salt pond, nearby beaches and mangroves area were rich biologically, but as the area was leveled, that diversity was lost and the land virtually destroyed.

Over 400 citizens in the area signed a petition to protest the sale of the land by the government. The government balked at the petition, stating that the land was useless.

Citizens began questioning why they were not consulted on the project, and why they had no say in the outcome of their community.

Today, the project has failed but the environment has been ravaged. Here is a quote about the outcome of the project from a Wetlands Preservation pamphlet:

How did this affect the environment?

  • Water visibility decreased due to large amounts of sand and mud particles in the water. This reduced the attractiveness of the area for divers.
  • The dredging operation led to heavy siltation in Mosquito Cove and other bays down current.
  • Sea grass beds in Mosquito Cove died because of the heavy siltation.
  • Fish populations in Mosquito Cove declined.
  • Sediments from the dredging operations killed most of the corals in Mosquito Cove.
  • Hurricane Hugo stirred up the dredge material and made the sediment problems worse.
  • The landscape was totally altered to look like a typical Florida marina complex.
  • Mangroves, sea grapes and coconuts were bulldozed and burned, reducing coastal protection.
  • Wildlife populations declined dramatically. Some species such as West Indian Whistling-Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, American Coot, Osprey and Bahama Pintail stopped using the site. Others such as shorebirds and herons declined in number.
  • The villagers felt that the mangrove swamp used to buffer the village from the sea. They think that they would have suffered less damage from Hurricane Hugo if the swamp had not been destroyed.

What happened to the villagers?

  • They lost the traditional place where young boys used to play in the mangroves and stalk birds with catapults.
  • They lost the closest place to their village in which to fish for mullet, tarpon and other fish, or collect crabs and oysters.
  • They lost access to the coconut trees which were a small but important source of food.
  • They lost access to game birds, which are no longer present.
  • They lost access to important grazing lands for goats and cattle, which have been restricted and posted
  • They lost access to a high quality beach at Lignum Vitae Bay where water quality has declined.
  • They lost access to the former village beach, at Jolly Beach. Although it is still theoretically a public beach, access is restricted by the fence around the hotel and the absence of an access road. In addition, many people object to the visitors' topless bathing habits.
  • They lost a place to keep their fishing boats, which were displaced by dive boats, glass bottom boats and sailboats.

March 31, 2010 | Island Conflicts

New Details on Wilson City Power Plant

Neil Hartnell of The Tribune adds a fascinating detail to the Wilson City Power Plant issue. Hartnell writes, "It had long been speculated that the BEC project was moved to Wilson City because the Snake Cay site was selected for a tourism development, and these documents, which were filed as part of the Government's defence to the Judicial Review action brought against the power plant by Responsible Development for Abaco (RDA), provide the first tangible evidence of this."

January 15, 2010 | Island Conflicts

Rise Up for Haiti

Hispaniola

Dear Readers,

When Save Guana Cay Reef was invited to attend a United Nations conference to speak about their plight, many of them returned to the Bahamas humbled by the event. They were fighting a megadevelopment in an effort to save their reef, but they were speaking alongside groups who were fighting to feed their community or rebuild their towns.

I have always said that Great Guana Cay's issues are not secondary to the issues that seem larger and more immediate. Haiti's layered problems, which led to today's catastrophe are not isolated from the issues we talk about with Great Guana Cay. I have been working to rework this blog to look at Guana's issues in the context of other issues in the Caribbean. I did not expect that one of the biggest events in our hemisphere would change this very conversation.

One of the greatest tragedies has just happened in our backyard. For those of us passionate about protecting the Bahamas, we know that Haitians have enriched our islands with their culture. For those of us passionate about conservation, we know that Haiti's grim history is tied to grave environmental lessons about the Caribbean. For those of us who believe in the Caribbean, this is our moment. There are a million ways to help Haiti now and tomorrow.

We are donating to Doctors Without Borders. We expect to find new ways to help Haiti. A friend of mine, who contributed to the effort to save Guana Cay wrote this today. "It is ironic, but perhaps hopeful, that humans seem to respond to the needs of other humans impacted by dramatic natural disasters in ways that transcend political boundaries and ideaologies.  So, let us hope that efforts to rebuild Haiti will do more than simply replace the physical structures that were destroyed."

November 19, 2009 | Nail Bay

Locals in Virgin Gorda Begin Fight against Nail Bay Project

Two articles from Virgin Islands Platinum remind us of how far Save Guana Cay Reef's influence has reached. This latest BVI issue involves the building of a giant $200 million dock. Locals worry about its effect on the nearshore coral reefs, and the island's culture. The locals followed in the footsteps of the Hans Creek objectors, whose successful case against a golf course developer was inspired by Great Guana Cay.

Residents Angered at Proposed Nail Bay Development

Public to Have Say on Proposed Development

September 24, 2009 | whereabouts

More on Beef Island, BVI Win

BVINews writes,

The Virgin Islands Environmental Council emerged victorious on Monday 21st September 2009 when Justice Indra Hariprashad-Charles handed down a judgment finding the approval of the Beef Island Project illegal.

The two-year legal battle began in July 2007 when VIEC, a group of concerned fisherfolk and residents, filed an application in the High Court seeking judicial review of the Jan 2007 decision by former Chief Minister, Hon D Orlando Smith granting planning approval to Quorum Island BVI Limited to construct a 5 star hotel, marina and golf course on Beef Island. The golf course and marina were located next to and partially within the Hans Creek Fisheries Protected area.

Contrary to arguments advanced by the Government and the Developer, Justice Charles ruled that Hans Creek is a Fisheries Protected area within the meaning of the Fisheries Act. The Fisheries Regulations provides that no development activity can take place which may or is likely to adversely affect a fisheries protected area. Any contravention of the Regulations is an offence under the law. Since certain aspects of the proposed development activity are certain to adversely affect the protected area, the planning approval is thereby rendered illegal.

Continue reading at BVI News

September 16, 2009 | Island Conflicts

Judicial Review threat to $105m power plant


By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor

AN attorney will this week write to all government agencies involved in the permitting process for BEC's $105 million Wilson City power plant to demand that his Abaco-based clients be involved in "meaningful consultation" on the project, with moves for a Supreme Court injunction to follow if construction recommences.
Fred Smith, a Freeport-based partner in the Callenders & Co law firm, also warned that he would launch a Judicial Review challenge in the courts - similar to the one he instigated against Discovery Land Company's Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club project on Great Guana Cay, which has reached the Privy Council - if BEC attempted to have the necessary construction permits "rubber stamped and retroactively applied" so the power plant could proceed.

Accusing successive governments of failing to heed the warning given by the Guana Cay situation, when it came to following statutory and due process and consulting with all affected parties, Mr Smith said both the Christie and Ingraham administrations had "put the cart before the horse" when it came to the BEC power plant.
Arguing that the Government had delivered "a slap in the face" to democratic institutions and their processes through their handling of the Wilson City project, the Callenders & Co partner said the administration itself had been responsible for generating opposition by its decision to "proceed clandestinely, secretly and without permits".

Informing Tribune Business that he represented a number of Bahamian and foreign homeowners on Abaco, Mr Smith said of his clients: "They are up in arms about the lack of consultation through the local government process, or through the permitting processes of central government agencies. This is probably the single largest capital expenditure by government in Abaco."

The Wilson City power plant project was instigated under the former Christie administration, which initially looked at a site at Snake Cay. That was ultimately rejected, due to its proximity to a planned National Park and environmentally/ecologically sensitive area, Wilson City being chosen as the alternative.

Criticising both governments for their failure to involve Abaconians in the consultative process before construction started, Mr Smith said this had created negative instead of positive energy in the community's attitude towards the Wilson Cay plant.

"Instead, they proceeded clandestinely, secretly, without permits, not giving information.... They put the cart before the horse," Mr Smith told Tribune Business.

"This all goes back to issues of central government feeling it can do what it wants in the Out Island colonies. It is Nassau treating the Family Islands as if they have no say. It is a central government dictatorship once again.
"Generally, government departments go ahead with their development plans before they get permits. This is something that should not happen. It's a slap in the face to democratic institutions. It demonstrates that statutory mechanisms for local government permitting, health and safety, the environment, are meaningless. This is a repeat of the Guana Cay fiasco, and I beg the FNM to proceed differently in the future."

Dr Earl Deveaux, minister of the environment, acknowledged in this newspaper yesterday that government departments and utilities often went ahead with their development/construction plans without first obtaining the necessary permits and approvals, unlike private developers, who were required to go through the proper processes and channels.

When asked why the Government appeared not to have learnt anything from the Guana Cay case and public reactions to other controversial developments, Mr Smith replied: "I don't think they're slow learners. They haven't learnt at all."

What is surprising is that the Government would again risk incurring the wrath of Abaconians, a generally well-educated population well aware of their rights and statutory processes, given what had happened with the Guana Cay development.

Pointing out the hypocrisy of requiring private developers to abide by the laws and statutory processes, when government departments were not, Mr Smith said: "The Government is not a law unto itself. Each department, statutory authority, BEC and BTC, are statutory corporate institutions that are subject to the law like any private developer."

The Government appears to have anticipated Mr Smith's possible legal challenge to the Wilson City power plant's continued construction, having placed all building on hold until the necessary permits and approvals are obtained.
The Callender's & Co partner said he had been instructed by his clients to write to all the relevant government departments and agencies objecting to the lack of consultation, and request that they now be involved in a meaningful process.

Failing that, Mr Smith said he would seek a Supreme Court injunction to prevent construction on the Wilson City power plant from proceeding until all the required permits were in place and his clients "had an opportunity to participate in a meaningful consultative process".

"It's a question of the process by which the permits were applied for, considered and approved," Mr Smith said, adding that the issue went beyond the permits themselves.

"If they simply rush to get the permits rubber-stamped and retroactively applied, such permits will be challenged under a Judicial Review," he said. "In the 21st century Bahamas, it is high time that government institutions respected the relevant laws and processes."

Mr Smith said he and his clients would soon have to assess whether work on the Wilson City power plant had stopped, as the Government had said. He told Tribune Business that the last time he went to the site, he was barred from entering, and a row with security guards broke out after he subsequently started taking photos outside the fenced-off site.

To prevent such situations from occurring again, Mr Smith said it was incumbent on all private and public sector developers to "be accountable and transparent, provide the information and interact with a meaningful consultation process".

He added that while BEC's general manager, Kevin Basden, had asserted at last week's Town Meeting that three Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) had been conducted on Wilson City, this was relatively meaningless if local residents were not given an opportunity to comment, and their concerns made a part of the process.
His clients' main concerns, Mr Smith said, were the location of the power plant; whether Bunker C fuel was the correct one and the implications arising from its use; whether government had properly explored wind, solar and other alternative energies; and environmental and health and safety issues.

September 9, 2009 | whereabouts

The Good and the Bad


It's been a month and a half since I last posted news on Great Guana Cay's battle against a California golf development. I will be covering Guana Cay in detail in the coming months. Here are some updates.

Privy Council

Arguments ended in the morning of July 9, 2009. The Lords have reserved judgment. There is no timeline on when this judgment will be known.

Bahamas Finally Protecting Sea Turtles

After years of fighting for sea turtle laws, Bahamian environmental groups have now secured an amazing victory - protection for all marine turtles. All seven species of sea turtles are endangered or threatened around the world. Five exist in the Bahamas, but hunting them for their meat and shells is common, including in the Abacos where Bakers Bay Club now threatens one of the areas breeding grounds for nesting loggerhead and green turtles..

Fabien Cousteau Bimini Video

Although Bimini has made a major win against the Bimini Bay Resort & Marina by convincing the Bahamian government to restrain the development's size, the project is still unsustainable and causing problems for the Bimini environment. Here is a 2008 video created by Fabien Cousteau. Cousteau covers corruption issues which closely tie into events at Great Guana Cay. It's a very well made video:

Bimini Bay Resort Youtube Video

Beef Island Update

Guana Cay's fight against Bakers Bay Club has inspired other groups to protect their critical habitats. Here is the latest on the Beef Island story:

Link to Beef Island

May 21, 2009 | Island Conflicts

Another Massive Golf Anchor Development, Four Seasons at Emerald Bay Fails...500 Bahamians lose their job as a result.

The Exumas are being hit heavily as the Four Seasons at Emerald Bay shuts down within two weeks. Employees were given little notice of the impending collapse of this massive anchor project with a Greg Normal golf course. Notes from the Road has made the case for years that the anchor development projects of the Christie Administration made no sense for the Bahamas, that golf developments are not sustainable, and that megadevelopments are quickly falling out of favor with tourists, and should not be built.

Now, in 2009, we watch as nearly all the big anchor projects are either failing, in dire straits, or closing shop for good. In the case of Bimini Bay, the locals have successfully limited its scope; a historic move in the Bahamas that should set a precedent for local environmental fights in the future.

The question remains, is Bakers Bay next? Sales are extremely slow at Bakers Bay. Only 57 lots are reported as being sold (the developer claims they have sold 67.) But the developers had said as early as 2005 that they expected the project to sell out quickly. Construction has slowed down considerably, and only a paltry 60 workers are at the site now - a sign that Bakers Bay may be operating on a shoestring budget in preparation for more bad news.

It is a tragedy for the Bahamas how many families have been affected by the rise and fall of these megadevelopments, which in almost every case, exact huge tolls on local environments. Notes from the Road has argued a different path for Bahamas tourism: promote Bahamian-ownership of smaller developments. Promote the Bahamian wilderness, eco-developments, small-scale tourism, second-home ownership.

January 26, 2009 | whereabouts

Historic Win for Bimini Bay Mangrove Fight

Notes from the Road has been reporting on the Great Guana Cay development battle for years as well as its sister issue: the island of Bimini has been fighting the expansion of a Hilton golf project that would threaten the island's biodiversity. After years of fighting to protect their island, Bimini has achieved a dramatic and historic win.

The news was reported by the Washington Post on January 23. Here is a quote:

The reserve, which will be protected from most fishing and other "extractive activities," is home to endangered species such as the Nassau grouper and the Bimini boa, as well as a vibrant nursery for lemon sharks.

The decision -- approved by the Bahamas cabinet Dec. 29 but announced last week -- is a setback for the Bimini Bay Resort and Marina, which has been clearing some of the island's mangroves to build a hotel, a golf course, a casino and two marinas, some of which have already been constructed. Link to full article

I will be updating news on this historic win for Bahamian conservation with photos, illustrations and links to articles.

Bimini MPA

Read more at these links:
January 23 Washington Post Article
Restrict Bimini Bay Resort
Bimini Blog

January 6, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Steel Wall of Secrecy Undermines Bahamas Resorts

Lobster Traps in the Abacos

A Bahamian brings crustacean traps ashore. Locals are kept in the dark while
developments are constructed in their backyard.

Bahamas B2B.com posted an excellent article on the awkward process that Bahamian government goes through in approving developments. Save Guana Cay Reef attorney Fred Smith is quoted:

"It pits communities against developers, and creates unnecessary friction through lack of participation and transparency. That is everything that the Save Guana Cay Reef Association has been complaining about. It is so important to begin the process in a community-friendly way, so that there can be a union between the locals and the developers."

The article also argues the importance of real environmental laws in the Bahamas.

Read the article here.

Updated December 27, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Bahamas National Trust on Bimini Bay Resort

The Bahamas National Trust has issued a document on the Bimini Bay Golf Resort.

Here is a quote:

The Trust is deeply concerned that further development at Bimini Bay will lead inevitably to the loss of vital ecological functions that would be irrecoverable. It is our considered view that no second phase development should be approved without a further EIA undertaken by independent consultants. Based on our review of the first phase EIA, we agree with the finding by Black and Veatch that it impossible to accurately assess the potential impact of any part of phase 2.

The Trust has also identified a direct conflict between the golf course planned for Phase 2, and the government's proposed marine protected area for Bimini. The proposed boundaries of the MPA overlap and encompass most of the second phase area authorized under the heads of agreement.

It is our considered opinion that construction of a golf course would be at the expense of large areas of mangroves, and at the expense of the ecological integrity of the marine protected area. We strongly recommend that the golf course NOT be approved, and that the government move quickly to declare the promised MPA.

November 27, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Sir Richard Branson joins efforts against Virgin Islands Golf Course


Read this article in The Independent

In a case related to the Great Guana Cay Privy Council case, Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson backs the locals in a fight against an audacious golf megadevelopment nearly as dangerous to the environment as the Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club. This development dispute is on Beef Island in the Virgin Islands.

From the article:

The case, which is to be heard in full next year, is expected to have far-reaching consequences for the protection of the fragile Caribbean environment. Sir Richard, head of the Virgin group of companies, has paid for a team of barristers, led by the former chairman of the Bar Stephen Hockman QC, to fly to the group of islands and seek to stop plans to build a marina, five-star hotel and golf course in the British overseas territory.

Sir Richard Branson's involvement in the Beef Island case resembles, and exceeds, celebrity involvement in the Caribbean environment cases.

The article continues:

A council spokesman said: "This is a landmark case that addresses a number of important issues which will impact on the future of environmental law and practice throughout the Caribbean. The outcome of this case will definitely impact the way other large projects currently under planning review are dealt with, leading to a more sustainable future for the BVI.

November 15, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Beef Island Locals Wins Another Appeal Against Golf Development in Court

Beef Island is a beautiful island in the British Virgin Islands. A golf and megayacht development was slated to consume environmentally integral portions of the island. According to an email from the locals opposing the development:

"The judges ruled in favor of VIEC stopping developers from turning Beef Island's Hans Creek, salt pond, and mangrove shore into a mega-yacht marina with cement shore, golf course lacking coastal setbacks and cabana-ed artificial beach."

Beef Island

According to the newsletter, the endangered Beef Island area was the island's "last pristine salt pond, creek and mangrove shore with coral reefs frequented by roseate flamingoes, endangered white-cheeked pigeons, turtles and fish."

Beef Island's development problems are far from over, but the news of another appeal is welcome news for the local's attempting to save their island's ecosystems.

External Links:

BVI Conservation Group

September 19, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Rum Cay Development Fails

The Bahama Journal announced today that the Rum Cay project has failed. Quoting Bahama Journal, "According to Work on the much-touted $700 million Rum Cay Resort Marina supposedly being developed by Montana Holdings on remote Rum Cay in the southern Bahamas has stalled completely, leaving a gaping hole in the island’s economy, and leading to migration away from home once again for many who had returned in anticipation of work."

Rum Cay was a Bakers Bay style megadevelopment criticized by environmentalists for being dangerous to the local nearshore environment. Rum Cay's failure is another in a long string of collapses of the failed 'anchor megadavelopment policy' of the Christie Administration.

June 2, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Fabien Cousteau Video on Bimini Bay

Great video from Ocean Future's Society on Bimini Bay covers many of the issues from Great Guana Cay.

Fabien Cousteau Video

June 2, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Jean-Michel Cousteau Slams Bimini Bay

World renowned marine conservationists Jean-Michel Cousteau slams Bimini Bay for all the reasons the opposition to Bimini Bay and Bakers Bay have been making for the past several years:

"...Allowing Bimini Bay to continue with phase II would certainly strip this inland paradise of its precious natural riches. Over time, visitors and residents alike will suffer the decline of economic, social and environmental prosperity..." Read the article:

Nassau Guardian Article

May 11, 2008 | Island Conflicts

SharkTrust on Bahamas Mangroves Destruction

Message to Prime Minister, "When can we expect your government to demonstrate that it is primarily interested in its first responsibility: the Bahamian people, their natural heritage and their future?"

SharkTrust, the Bimini-based shark and mangroves research institute, issued a press release warning to the Bahamas government about further destruction to the mangroves. Mangroves Action Network followed the press release with a letter to Prime Minister Ingraham, which is posted here:

Dear Prime Minister Ingraham,

I would like to also draw your attention to a press release we at Mangrove Action Project have just sent out. The old adage that warns us "If the lessons of history are not learned, then history is bound to repeat itself, " needs to be heeded in the Bahamas today! Developments that destroy your nation's mangroves, such as seen at Bimini and Guana Cay, prove beyond a doubt that your government is not learning those lessons.

Towards A Future With Mangroves,

Alfredo Quarto,
Mangrove Action Project

Here is the Press Release from SharkTrust:

Dear Prime Minister Ingraham,

I am sure you are aware of the disaster that has recently struck Myanmar (Burma). What you may previously have been unaware of is the considerable contribution to the scale of the devastation and loss of life there due to the clearing of the mangrove forests that previously provided a protective buffer against the worst storms. In the case of Burma the poverty and ignorance of the people contributed to the clearing. In the case of Bimini in your own country, the intended - and well-underway - destruction of the mangrove forests of the North Sound is being allowed, without legal foundation, so that a foreign developer can make his fortune. And ignorance of the potential calamity should a hurricane strike Bimini is not an excuse as you are now informed of the threat:-

LOE

Wall Street Journal

Scientific American

ABC Mangroves

Mangroves

Furthermore, should a storm surge enter the North Sound once the northern lagoon is built up as part of this monstrously inappropriate resort, the resultant flooding of Alice and Bailey Towns to the south-west are another considerable and dreadful possibility.

Let me ask you this Prime Minister: if a hurricane indeed hits Bimini after its vital mangroves have been cleared by the Capo Group and the flow characteristics of the North Sound have been altered and the resulting devastation (and loss of life?) is as expected, who will be held responsible for the fiasco? Every genuine mangrove scientist will confirm the risks being quietly allowed on North Bimini for the development of the Bimini Bay Resort with its gigantic golf course, oversized Marina, Hilton Hotel and Casino.

I certainly hope the Press of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas takes up this scandal once again and makes abundantly clear to the Bahamian people what is going on on the tiny and once charming island of North Bimini. Your predecessor, Mr Christie, demonstrated that his interests lay not with the islanders of Bimini and their island but with the Capo Group and its ambitions. Conservationists, scientists and ethical tourism NGOs greeted your recent election victory with enthusiasm because we presumed that you would act rapidly and decisively on your re-election promises to right such blatant wrongs. When can we expect your government to demonstrate that it is primarily interested in its first responsibility: the Bahamian people, their natural heritage and their future?

Yours sincerely

Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch

May 07, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Anti Ara Macao Group Wins Suit

From Channel 5 Belize:

Ara Macao: that was the development project that proposed to build a two hundred and sixty room hotel, four hundred and sixty condos, a hundred thousand square foot casino and an eighteen-hole golf course on the northern end of the Placencia peninsula. And while years of public controversy, regulatory red tape and uncertain financing have mired the initiative in the sand, today's case in the Supreme Court had nothing to do with environmental compliance or economic impact.

This morning in the Supreme Court chairman of the Ara Macao Development Company, Paul Goguen, sued the group Placencia Citizens for Sustainable Development for damages, asserting that separate articles that appeared on its website in June 2006 libeled him personally and embarrassed his company.

During the proceedings, Goguen's attorney, Elson Kaseke, argued that the stories, entitled "A reality check for Ara Macao" and"Setting the Record Straight from the Peninsulas Perspective contained defamatory statements. But when he rose to address the court, the lawyer representing the citizens group, Oscar Sabido contended that the statements were fair comment and protected as free speech. When he made his ruling, Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh maintained that he had read both articles in their entirety and while they were (quote) "not friendly" or "welcoming", only (quote) "a heightened sensitivity would have read between the lines to find they are truly defamatory". In short, case dismissed. As Goguen and Kaseke left the courtroom, they expressed surprise at the Judges decision.

Learn more at these links:

Save our Peninsula

Ara Macao Notes

Also, Mary Toy was quoted by Channel 5.

"I didnt look at this as so much a vindication of our work against Ara Macao or about Ara Macao but the right of Belizeans to express their beliefs and their opinions. If what Mr. Kaseke had been proposing, that only comments could have been given to NEAC and nothing could have gone on television or newspapers, what would that have done to our society because if that had been accepted, it would not have been confined to environmental problems, it would have gone to social issues, things like AIDS and abuse of women. Its just a vindication of the Belizeans right to say what they want to say in a legitimate way."

March 24, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Bimini, An Island Ignored

People from Bimini, and around the world, have been calling for the preservation of this beautiful island for years.  Back in 2000, we were told that our precious home was designated as the highest-priority site in the Bahamas for a Marine Protected Area, yet here we are in 2008 with no MPA.  Bimini's MPA is widely supported, locally and internationally, and its implementation is a key factor to the economic and ecological future of the island, long-hailed as the Big Game Fishing Capital of the World.  Just a few days ago, a news report suggested that the government is holding off on designating Bimini's MPA because of a perceived apathy from Bimini, rather than recognizing that for us here, this issue should have already been settled years ago.  I am never one to take a defeatist's attitude but I can see why there appears to be a sense of apathy amongst the people of Bimini.  
 
There have been inquiries, investigations, committees, surveys, studies and promises for years in regards to the current development on North Bimini and their wanton destruction and impact on the environment and ecology. We have talked to administrators, MP's, lawyers, church leaders, heads of state, scientists, and environmental groups. We have had meetings, forums, educational fairs, flyers, and petitions voicing our desire to have the project stopped and preservation of the wetlands implemented. And through all of this do you know what the general belief of Biminites is...?
 
We feel that it doesn't matter what we do because the government leaders do not have our best interest at heart, only profit - personal or otherwise. Our desire to preserve the natural heritage of Bimini for the future of Bimini, the very thing that brings people like the Bimini Bay developers to our islands, is for sale to the highest bidder. In the end our fate is not in our own hands but in the hands of a small few who know nothing of daily life in Bimini and the tragic effects that this development, even in just its beginning stage, has had on the economy and ecology of the island.
 
Most people feel this way and have adopted the attitude toward our leadership of "they're going to do what they want to do no matter what we say, so why waste your breath". I know it's unfortunate but it's a product of being let down by the same people for so long. So when the government says that the people of Bimini have not shown that they want a Marine Reserve or National Park, it's not true, we do. The people of Bimini have been ignored for too long, and for many their hopes for a better tomorrow have waned. I say shame on the leaders of our nation if they plan to use the plight of a weary community as their excuse to do the wrong thing. 

Establishing Bimini's MPA and preserving whats left of Bimini will ensure that Biminites, tourists, and even foreign developers can enjoy this island jewel for future generations.
 
Marty Weech
Biminite, Born and Raised

February 26, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Fabien Cousteau backs Efforts at Bimini Bay

Fabien Cousteau backs Efforts at Bimini Bay | February 26, 2008

Very good news for Bimini. It looks like the efforts to restrict the scope of the Hilton project are becoming very real. The new attention bring brought to Bimini by Fabien Cousteau, Jean-Michel Cousteau's son, seem to be helping the efforts greatly.

Following is a piece from the Bahama Pundit. In it, Neil Sealey is quoted as saying, "The people of Bimini are now trapped behind a wall while most of their island has been taken over by a developer who wants to knock golf balls around. The North Sound and the entire mangrove area to the east are clearly deserving of some sort of protected status - it's an oasis in a vast expanse of water."

Very nice of Mr. Sealey to say. However, Sealey is the husband of the environmental monitoring team leader of the Bakers Bay Club, Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey. He was an early supporter of the environmental qualities of Bakers Bay. Ironic, how cronyism can lead us to say one thing in one place, and the opposite somewhere else. Here is a Neil Sealey letter defending Bakers Bay Club, with comments by me.

Fabien Cousteau was attracted to Bimini by Cindy Slater, a Floridian who has been visiting the island since childhood. She is devastated by what is happening there, and set up the Save Bimini Association to fight back: "You can tell the people who live at Bimini Bay," she says, "as opposed to those who come to enjoy the real Bimini - they wear high heels instead of flip flops. The resort should stop where it is now - there is no need for a golf course to fill in the mangroves."

Bahamian environmental expert Neil Sealey agrees. "The people of Bimini are now trapped behind a wall while most of their island has been taken over by a developer who wants to knock golf balls around. The North Sound and the entire mangrove area to the east are clearly deserving of some sort of protected status - it's an oasis in a vast expanse of water."

Cousteau and Slater were in Nassau last week to meet with a variety of politicos, enviromentalists and media folks. Slater said no one they spoke to could understand why the Bimini Bay development is allowed to continue in its present format: "Even Capo could turn this around and have a resort that draws on a marine park. Bimini's resources for ecotourism are huge."

According to Bahamas National Trust deputy president Pericles Maillis, Bimini Bay is one of a handful of development "anomalies" in the Bahamas, and the government has had the grace to admit it was a mistake. He noted that the project was on the upcoming BNT council meeting's agenda, and there are expectations that some sort of "green line" will be drawn to stop further development.

"I can tell you that there is a joint initiative right now between the BNT and the government to look at the agreements and the extent of compliance and to see how we can ameliorate the situation. But," he warned, "in a democracy, things that are done are not often undone."

Some say the future of Bimini is in the hands of those who live there. Environmentalists can point out what's wrong, but it's the local folk who must force the politicos to act. As one Biminite said in Cousteau's video, Paradise in Peril, "Bimini is the fishing capital of the Bahamas. If you gonna come to Bimini to play golf, then you going away from what Bimini is all about."

January 20, 2008 | Island Conflicts

Donald Trump Golf Course Draws Fire

Link to National Geographic Video

Conservationists in Scotland are now fighting alongside local residents against a proposed golf course by Donald Trump. His plan will destroy a 4,000 year old dune system, habitat for seven rare bird species.

Watch the interview of George Sorial, Trump's managing director for international development. This guy looks like a real winner, and reminds me of the suits hired by Discovery Land Company to spin their golf course green. In other interviews, Sorial's patronizing attitude towards anybody concerned about the adverse effects of Trump's development shows. In the Guardian, he writes, "There's a view we are arrogant. We are not arrogant. We set certain standards. It may be incomprehensible to smaller minds, but we have always set high standards. We presented them with a plan and hoped they could open their minds, but it was too much for them."

But the Trump issue is becoming more complicated, and more and more, it is resembling the crisis at Great Guana Cay, where locals are feeling that Trump mercenaries are harassing them and attempting to meddle with Scottish environmental law. This January 6th article from the Seattle Times helps illustrate that.

Redshanks are one of 7 species threatened by the Trump development.

In an eerie similarity to the Bakers Bay project, high level Scottish officials had met with Trump officials before decisions were made:

The Seattle Times writes,

"...The battle has led to the firing of the local infrastructure committee chairman who rejected the project and recriminations against all seven committee members who voted no.

It also has sunk the Scottish government in a "sleaze" quagmire. After newly elected Scottish National Party ministers rescued the project by declaring it a matter of national significance, newspapers revealed that party officials had held meetings with senior Trump Organization officials on the eve of the decision.

"The pressure that was put on the council was absolutely unprecedented," said Martin Ford, the committee chairman who was ousted after casting a tiebreaking vote against Trump."

December 21, 2007 | Island Conflicts

News on the Bimini Bay Resort & Casino

News on the Bimini Bay Resort & Casino | December 21, 2007

Jamie HynemanI received this amazing list of media and organization supporting the fight against the Bimini Bay Resort & Casino. The list of opponents of this development is astounding; the scientific evidence against this development is compelling, and the movement to restrict the size of the development in Bimini is growing by the day. Godspeed to them.

Cinemaquatics "Saving the Sawfish"
http://www.youtube.com/cinemaquatics or
http://www.cinemaquatics.com/saving-the-sawfish.html

National Geographic Magazine
March, 2007 "An Eden For Sharks"
"As recently as 2002, plans were in motion to set aside five marine areas to preserve the economic and ecological lifeblood of the Bahamas, with Bimini rated as the highest priority. But a change in government put off the project, and there's been no movement toward protection, despite angry prodding and accusations of corruption. Instead, giant resorts such as the one being built on Bimini have grown up on several outer islands."
http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0703/feature5/

National Geographic Traveler Magazine
Out Islands Are In
"The Government got screwed, Mr Capo lied to them."
http://www.savebimini.org/ngarticle.htm

The Washington Post August 24, 2005
Wave of Marine Species Extinctions Feared
"BIMINI, Bahamas -- The bulldozers moved slowly at first. Picking up speed, they pressed forward into a patch of dense mangrove trees that buckled and splintered like twigs. As the machines moved on, the pieces drifted out to sea."

The Save Bimini Association
www.savebimini.org

Save the Bahamas Coalition
www.restrictbiminibayresort.org

PEW Institute for Ocean Science
Bimini Beseiged
"If allowed to proceed unchecked, the complex will consume the mangroves of the North Sound and east Bimini, together with all of the animals and plants that live there"
http://www.pewoceanscience.org/press/press-article.php?ID=24

Bimini Biological Field Station
Protect Bimini
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/news_protectbimini.html

Award Winning Author Lynne Cherry
""Why was Mr. Capo given a permit when the whole area of mangroves was designated the #1 priority area and was supposed to be protected as a Marine Protected Area? " http://members.authorsguild.net/lynnecherry/work1.htm

Earth Island Institute
The Bimini Bay Development, An Ongoing Environmental Disaster http://www.earthisland.org/takeaction/new_action.cfm?aaID=206

Mangrove Action Project
http://www.mangroveactionproject.org/

Miami Beach Rod & Reel Club
"Bimini Destroyed"
http://www.therodandreelclub.com/bimini%20bay/biminibayindexpage.htm

Photographer Brian Skerry
Photographer Brian Skerry's Concern For Bimini
"I saw something in Bimini that disturbed me as well. Large areas of mangroves were being bulldozed"
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/news.html

MythBuster Jamie Hyneman
"We should not allow huge developments to come in and wipe out these areas- this is what is happening in Bimini right now."
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/news_archive.html

Tourism Concern (UK)
"Save Bimini"
"Water supplies are being used for the tourism development resulting in water to local communities being frequently turned off"
http://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/campaigns/bimini.html

Global Response
Protect Mangroves & Shark Habitat
"The Bimini Bay Resort & Casino complex has already destroyed large areas of Bimini's pristine habitats on land and sea"
http://www.globalresponse.org/gra.php?i=2/05

The Shark Trust
http://www.sharktrust.org/content.asp?did=26543

The Bahamas Journal of Science
Bimini Special Issue
Volume 9, No. 2 May, 2002

NBC 6 - South Florida
May 9, 2005
"If the resort is fully built as it's planned, not only will the sharks disappear from this island, but the very fish and conch and lobster that populate the reefs out here will be gone"
http://www.nbc6.net/news/4465014/detail.html

Earth Action Network
"Bimini Bay Resort, Marina and Casino will be devastating to the Biminites and, with the natural wonders of Bimini destroyed, the very reasons for visiting these charming islands will be lost."
http://www.earthactionnetwork.org/letters/2005/10/letter10.php

Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism
"Gerardo Capo obviously feels little or nothing about the Biminis and its people and environment."
http://www.ecotonline.org/pages/downloads/Solidarity%20Alert.pdf

Wet Pleasures Dive Outfitters
"Of critical concern is the ongoing construction of a mega-development on North Bimini. Known as the Bimini Bay Resort and Casino"
http://www.wetpleasuresfla.com/BimNews3.html

Bahamas Government Minister Tommy Turnquest
"We Should Not Have Approved Bimini Bay."
July 17, 2007

Bahamian Ecologist Romauld Ferreira
"For example, look at what happened in Bimini - the total clear-cutting of that portion of Bimini (being used for Floridian Gerardo) Capo's development. Disaster. Well what's the penalty for that? What penalty should be applied for someone who does that? I'm sure BEST Commission did not give them permission to do that."

Ruba Marshood - Duke University
Honorable Mention  2005 Citizen Science Writing Competition
The North Sound Lagoon vs. The Bimini Bay Resort & Casino

Dive Magazine (UK)
Lemon Sharks Under Threat
"Although the Bahamian Government announced its intention to declare the site a marine reserve in 2000, it is now under serious threat from these proposals."
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/images/large/bimini-dive.jpg

Florida Sportsman Magazine
The Changing Face of Bimini
"If you love sport fishing, diving and the natural world, then don't buy into Bimini Bay."
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/news_archive.html

Shark Diver Magazine
"Bimini Beseiged" March 2, 2005

Nassau Guardian - Feb. 13, 2003
Bimini Resident Over Undelivered Promises
"the only thing they came in here to do is to destroy Bimini."

Nassau Guardian - July 22, 2002
Bimini Under Attack
"if there is going to be long-lasting environmental damage to the Bimini Islands, then this sort of development should not continue."

Nassau Tribune - Feb. 12, 2004
Legislation Hopes After Bimini Bay
"has run into several financing problems and criticism from locals concerned with the destruction of their environment."

Bahamas Tribune - April 8, 2002
DREDGING KILLING FISH CONCERN AS BIMINI WORK RESUMES
"unprecedented ecological disaster in the North sound lagoon of Bimini via the Bimini Bay development"

Nassau Tribune - December 23, 2003
Anger as Minister's Name Appears on Developer's Gift Card
"Bimini Bay Resort development has caused rage and resentment on the island"

Grand Bahamas Newsletter
Biminites Fight Back
"a tourist development that will destroy one of the country's most productive marine ecosystems: the mangrove forests of the Bimini islands"
http://www.grandbahamainfo.com/articles/BiminitesFightBack-5-18-06.htm

Nassau Guardian
Few Benefits for Bimini
http://www.thenassauguardian.com/bixex/288840006265338.php
"Bimini Bay is not good for Bimini."

Divester.com
Bimini Bay Resort: Beautiful, Luxurious€¦and Destroying the Environment
"the development is busy filling in the only mangrove ecosystem in the Northwestern Bahama Bank"
http://www.divester.com/2006/09/24/bimini-bay-resort-beautiful-luxurioous-and-destroying-the-en/

Nassau Guardian March, 26, 2006
Environment will be Threatened By Resort
"Bimini Bay Resort has already removed a large area of mangroves, including an area with the largest species diversity of marine life in the North Sound."

Nassau Guardian July 14, 2005
Capo defends his hiring of Mexicans
"His argument was that the Mexicans could have the project completed in half the time it would take for Bahamian construction workers to do it."

Nassau Guardian August 25, 2004
Wetlands Policy May be too Late for Bimini
"despite the importance of Bimini's wetlands, that community has not been slated for consultation meetings."

Nassau Guardian December 8, 2004
Bimini Bay Project Under Fire Again
"further degraded and destroyed by this extremely short-sighted and unsustainable development plan."

Nassau Guardian June 23, 2005
Concerned For Bimini's Wetlands
"this development is a disaster waiting to happen."

Nassau Guardian February 3, 2003
Government to meet with Bimini Bay developer
"it seems inappropriate to impact the most important resource of the Biminis to obtain cheap fill."

Nassau Guardian June 10, 2005
Bimini Residents Demonstrate
"residents still have great environmental concerns about the project. She alleged that despite the project's developer's denial, "they are filling in the wetlands."

Nassau Guardian March 12, 2004
Bimini Project Gets the OK
"Mr. Capo admitted that he was at first reluctant to work with the BEST Commission."

Nassau Guardian June 21, 2006
The FNM on "This and That"
"the Minister responsible for Financial Services and Investment, Vincent Peet, sought to shed any and all responsibility for developments at Bimini Bay"

Nassau Guardian June 10, 2005
Protest Planned in Bimini
"They might be creating jobs for the future for the Biminites, but very soon there will be no fish on this island."

Nassau Guardian July 23, 2003
Bimini Project off the Ground
"Although it is unclear as to whether environmental concerns over the Bimini Bay project have been resolved, the first phase is well underway."

Nassau Guardian February 17, 2005
Bimini to Re-establish itself as the "Gateway to the Bahamas"
"an island-wide controversy with residents and environmental groups calling for the project to be shelved."

Nassau Guardian June 10, 2005
Bimini Demonstration
"residents of the island staged a massive protest to publicly voice their concerns about the project."

Nassau Guardian September 18, 2006
Government and Partners
"The developers of Bimini Bay Resort have repeatedly come under fire with regard to the alleged environmental disorder that is being created with the elimination of the mangrove swamps and the creation of a golf course."

Nassau Guardian June 16, 2005
Letter to the Prime Minister to save Bimini Islands from disaster
"over 400 signatures€¦These people expressed their concerns about the environment of Bimini."

Nassau Guardian October 24, 2005
Bimini Residents Feel Betrayed
"the protest would be only one of several times the Council and residents of Bimini have taken government to task over the development's unfavourable terms."

Nassau Guardian February 14, 2003
Bimini Resident Upset Over Undelivered Promises
"blames the Bimini Bay project for the destruction of a large piece of land, which resulted in the clearing of cedar trees, "destroying nature."

Nassau Guardian June 11, 2004
Bastian says development ruining islands' environs
"were concerned about the Bimini Bay Project, and the damage done to Bimini."

Nassau Guardian June 10, 2004
Let's Remember the Environment
"The destruction of the wetlands due to urban encroachment or resort developing will do more harm than good."

Nassau Guardian September 9, 2005
Road Safety
"the developers of Bimini Bay Resort and Casino€¦say that they are demolishing "non-sensitive" mangroves."

Nassau Guardian June 10, 2005
The Pitfalls of Political Lies and Legends
"Surely the abuse and excess of a few developers, most notable Bimini Bay and Hall's Pond"

Nassau Guardian April 14, 2003
Scaled Down Bimini Project "unstopped"
"Asked to comment on concerns expressed by environmental groups, including Bimini residents, Mr. Grimes said: "We are unaware of any negative impact that the project has caused to the environment.'"

Nassau Guardian June 16, 2005
The PLP Doesn't Seem to Understand Conflict of Interest
"The Residents of Bimini always had problems with the Bimini Bay project."

Nassau Guardian February 8, 2005
Stealing from the Future?
"A giant resort like the Bimini Bay resort will keep Bahamians employed at low wages, without improving the living conditions of local Bimini residents."

Nassau Guardian July 28, 2003
Bimini Water "Dry"
"There were rumours that the water shortage was due to the large amount being used in the Bimini Bay project."

Nassau Guardian September 9, 2005
Business Plan Goes Awry
"That development will destroy the only fish nursery on the eastern Gulf Stream"

Nassau Guardian September 9, 2005
Sharks May Be In Danger
"Reyes said, adding that he is demolishing mangroves in a place that is "basically not a sensitive area"."

Nassau Guardian July 7, 2006
Behind the Property Boom in the Bahamas
"claims the Bimini Bay Resort & Casino will destroy mangroves that help protect marine life."

Nassau Guardian January 12, 2004
Elevating Bahamians Through Sustainable Development
"Another example of this kind of visionless strategy is the Bimini Bay development of Geraldo Capo, PLP enemy number one on Bimini"

Nassau Guardian April 29, 2004
Consumers & Earth Day Reflections
"We may have to take a second look at Bimini Bay"

Nassau Guardian April 26, 2004
"We're Not Silly Prime Minister"
"In Bimini, the Bimini Bay project, to which the PLP, in opposition, objected so strenuously, suddenly has the approval of its hitherto most vocal objectors€¦Are we the people silly to be incredulous and to wonder to what could we attribute this startling spontaneous reversal, which was accompanied by no explanation or justification whatsoever by him or his senior colleagues?"

Nassau Guardian December 7, 2004
Bimini Bay Project Still Causing Worries
""tearing apart a viable and important eco system that produces huge amounts of benefits for the local people and the local coastal environment "

Nassau Tribune December 24, 2003
Anger as developer's name appears on minister's gift card
""There have been a lot of complaints about this, but he [Bimini Bay developer Gerardo Capo] just goes ahead without being stopped"

The Bahamas Tribune April 8, 2002
Dredging Killing Fish Concern As Bimini Work Resumes
"Bimini Bay development continues to wreak havoc on the ecosystem there, compromising Bimini's culture and environment."

Biminites Take a Stand For their Land
May 23, 2005
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/news_archive.html

Nicki Kelly - The Punch, Bahamas
"aberrant projects that should never have seen the light of day. One of these is Bimini Bay."

Nassau Guardian - August 16, 2007
Claims of Slave-Like Conditions in Bimini
"There have been a number of complaints from Bahamian employees."

El Universal - August 11, 2007
Drug Trafficking Ring Explodes to Mexican in Bahamas
"they were going to command to us to a jail"

El Universal - August 11, 2007
They Denounce Network That Traffic Mexican in Bahamas
"dozen of workers managed to flee from the place in where they were retained: the Bimini island Bay, in Bahamas."

Bahamas Pundit
Tourism & Anchor Projects in the Bahamas
"It is perhaps the most tragic example of mistaken development in our history."
http://www.bahamapundit.com/2007/03/tourism_anchor_.html

ReEarth
Environmental Issues in the Islands of the Bahamas
"Restrict Bimini Bay Resort"
www.reearth.org

Neil Hammerschlag
http://www.neil4sharks.org/pdf/Bimini_ActionAlert.pdf

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
"Bulldozing mangroves on Bimini Island, Bahamas, to make way for the Hilton Group's Bimini Bay Resort and Casino"
link

Freeport News January 28, 2003
Decries Ecological Damage to Bimini
"Control of the potable water supply, an especially important, sovereign right in The Bahamas in general and Bimini in particular has been allowed to be taken over by foreign interests."

Bahamas B2B March 24, 2005
Furor Over Bimini Bay
"Mr. Reyes said screening occurs at the gate because there is a concern about nighttime access. "Also in recent times, there have been many police-related incidents involving alleged theft of construction materials and the alleged trafficking of people and narcotics," he added.
http://www.bahamasb2b.com/news/wmview.php?ArtID=5289

Freeport News May 25, 2005
Residents Upset by Capo's Theft Claims
"Mr. Capo insisting that he wants to prohibit Biminites from accessing his project because they have stolen material from the site."
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/news_FNmay25.html

Nassau Guardian May 28, 2005
No Gate
"Mr. Capo denied that residents were turned away from the area. "We never closed the gate to any Bahamian," he stressed."
http://www6.miami.edu/sharklab/news_NGmay28.html

Global Coral Reef Alliance
http://www.globalcoral.org/

Global Anti-Golf Course Movement
"It is inconceivable as to how such indiscriminate destructive activities can continue to take place."

On behalf of the Global Anti-Golf Course Movement's (GAG'M) coordinating groups:
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), Malaysia
Friends of the Earth (FoE), Malaysia
Global Network for Anti-Golf Course Action (GNAGA), Japan
Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (tim-team), Thailand
Third World Network (TWN)
Additional signatory:
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), United Kingdom

Black Belt News - Bahamas, February, 2005
"The project has destroyed the mangroves, the seabed, the fishing experience for tourists and the ability for the government and Biminites to expand their need for housing developments."

MP Kenneth Russel
MP Reports Minister to Police - The Tribune
"I have to conclude that the only reason they came to Bimini was because Capo instructed them to and he probably told them what to say when they got there."

The Tribune - Bahamas
Visitors' concern at Bimini building
"Long-time visitors to the Bahamas have raised concerns that the controversial Bimini Bay Resort will keep environmentally-minded tourists from coming to the island."

The Tribune - Bahamas, September, 2007
Capo Moves to "Muzzle" Bimini Bay Resort Critics
"This is not the kind of investment that is good for the future of the Bahamas."

David Jennings
Effects of Large-Scale Anthropogenic Development of Juvenile Lemon Shark Populations of Bimini, Bahamas
"Our results suggest that the development thus far has had a negative effect on both first-year survival rates of neonate lemon sharks and the habitat structure of the North Sound."

The Bahamas Journal - September 24, 2007
"development in Bimini Bay has for many years now been a bone of contention, not only because of its size and potential for social dislocation, but also because of environmental concerns associated with the dredge for the marina, the backfilling of wetlands and the development of a major golf course," Minister Symonette said.

Global Insular Conservation Society
The destruction of the native mangrove forests and sea grass in the name of development has catastrophic potential for the future of many species of animals, sharks, shell fish, birds, reptiles etc... that rely on these forests (both above and below the water) for their survival and very existence.

The Tribune - November 2, 2007
New Laws to be Introduced on Building in Low-Lying Areas
Prime Minister Ingraham, "The filling in of wetlands is a thing that has to come to an end, it has to stop."

The Tribune - October, 2007
Environmental Signs In Bimini
"there are still mangroves which can avoid future "death" and be saved from this unfair destruction, if  phase II and III of Bimini Bay Project is stopped and the Marine Protected Area is established."

The Petition Site - Sponsor Holly Cooper
Save the Mangroves at Bimini
"This is an ecological disaster in the making."
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/885814782
1065 Signatures

11.22.07 | Island Conflicts

Fisherman Fights Donald Trump on Golf Development

From ABC News: "...Trump wants to develop a $1 billion luxury golf course and hotel resort in Menie Links, stretching along the North Sea from the Scottish Heritage sand dunes in the north, to the town of Barmedie to the south..."

Link to Article

Time Online article on subject:

"To say that Mr Forbes, 55, is a thorn in Mr Trump's side is an understatement. His 23 acres of land sit directly between the tycoon's two proposed 18-hole golf courses and a planned 450-bedroom five-star hotel. A golf academy and driving range would be next door. Just a few hundred feet away would be the majestic sweep of Trump Boulevard, the main access road to the £1 billion resort.

"I'm right in the middle, you see," Mr Forbes said yesterday. "I wasn't against the golf course from the start, but then they just went mental because I wouldn't sell. They said they'd make my life a misery and they are..."

Link to Article

The threats and underheaded business practices in this story are being waged by golf course developers across the world - from the Bakers Bay Club on Great Guana Cay to the Bimini Bay Golf Course to the Tehama Resort in California. Those of us who oppose these golf courses commend fisherman Michael Forbes for his bravery against another golf developer creep.

This article in CNN shows some of the comments Trump has made about the fisherman, reminiscent of comments made by Bakers Bay Club directors and employees about the local residents of Guana Cay.

This article quotes Forbes: "...To me, you can't put a price on it. I won't sell and he knows that...All my family come from here. My grandfather fished here, my uncles fished here and I've been fishing here 40 years €” I'm the last in line and will see it out."

11.21.07 | Island Conflicts

Bahamas Four Season Golf Course Floods

New photos show the Four Seasons Resort golf course flooding. Hurricanes and tropical storms are a fact of life in the Bahamas, but golf courses in the Bahamas are often built with little regard for the local conditions.

Four Seasons Golf Course

Four Seasons Flooding

The impact of fertilizers and herbicides soaking into the bay can be devastating to the marine environment. The Nassau Guardian covers the issue here.

09.22.07 | Island Conflicts

Saving the Sawtooth

Like Great Guana Cay, Bimini is facing its own development issues. This youtube video is an outstanding look at the issues facing Bimini. The video is a fast seven minutes. Its production is superb and it concisely explains the big picture at Bimini.

Link to Video

Like Guana Cay's Bakers Bay, Bimini Bay Resort has many critics. This month, the developer has allegedly attempted to muzzle those critics voices through SLAPP tactics. Several letters went out to critics of the development threatening legal action if their criticism continued. Apparently, the tactic has backfired on the developer, as the Bahamian press has not responded kindly to Capo's tactics.

09.10.07 | Island Conflicts

Two Scientists Central to Guana Cay Fight Create Florida Victory

Dr. Mike Risk, the coral ecologist who wrote the original response to the Bakers Bay golf course and marina plan, and Dr. Tom Goreau, who has argued against the Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club independently of Dr. Risk, have joined forces in Florida for an amazing victory for the state, and coral reefs.

The City of Lake Worth had planned to pass a permit that would allow the city to build a desalinization plant and dump the residue into the ocean through an old underground pipe. The plan was designed to address a concern in the city that freshwater was being contaminated by saltwater.

But Tom Goreau and Mike Risk made a very public and very critical assessment of the plan, which they argued would increase the nutrient levels of horseshoe reef, a mile from the desalinization plant's output.

The issue is the same as that on Great Guana Cay; the large input of nutrients created by the Bakers Bay Club is killing Guana Cay's reef.

Here is a quote from the Sun-Sentinel:

However, the environmental coalition presented two nationally recognized experts in ocean sciences to refute the state's assessment. Thomas Goreau, the Harvard-educated president of the nonprofit Global Coral Reef Alliance, and Mike Risk, professor of environmental sciences at McMasters University in Canada, vehemently argued that there is no such thing as "a safe level" of ocean contaminants.

"Every time you get more nutrients into the coral, it expands and kills more coral," Goreau said. "Nutrients act like a fertilizer."

After hearing their arguments, city commissioners unanimously denied a request to hire a lobbyist to negotiate with a state agency for a permit that would allow the city to dump 4 million gallons of reverse osmosis concentrate near the pristine coral reef. The Lake Worth mayor credits the efforts of Goreau, Risk and other scientists, divers and environmentalists with saving the Horseshoe Reef.

The expert testimony of Risk and Goreau was crucial to the Florida victory. Reefs in Florida are severely degraded

09.09.07 | Island Conflicts

Costa Rican Corals dying from Hotel Fertilizers

A recent Reuters article attributes hotel golf course fertilizers and bad sewage systems to the destruction of a crucial Costa Rica coastal reef. The article backs the claims of scientists who criticize Bakers Bay Club's plan. Here are some quotes from the article:

"A tropical algae thriving on fertilizers from hotel golf courses and badly treated sewage is killing one of Costa Rica's most important coastal reefs, scientists say."

"The green, feather-like algae is spreading along the reefs of Culebra Bay in Costa Rica's northwestern Gulf of Papagayo, a popular scuba diving spot and home to a rare species of coral. The algae blocks the sunlight and suffocates the reefs."

"A tourism and construction boom along the palm tree-lined beaches is creating nitrogen- and phosphate-rich waste that feeds the algae, known as Caulerpa sertularioides, and Costa Rica is only just becoming aware of the problem."

"Scientists say about 80 percent of the reef area, which stretches for about a mile and a half (2.4 km) along the coast line, is covered in the algae."

The article pays tribute to the multiplying effect coral issues can have on nearshore environments:

If left unchecked, the algae could also severely damage the ecosystem of the bay, allowing non-native species of fish to come in and displace the native species.

Costa Rica is facing the same dilemma as the Bahamas:

"The algae is the latest challenge facing Costa Rican authorities as the Central American country struggles with conserving its unique tropical biodiversity while attracting tourists and marketing itself as an ecotourism paradise."

08.31.07 | Island Conflicts

New Development to Remove Coral Reefs

A new development will remove coral reefs and place them elsewhere. More insane plans in the Bahamas, according to this article from The Bahama Journal: Link

08.28.07 | Island Conflicts

The New Golf Wars

This article appeared in the recent issue of the Northern California Golf Association magazine, along with an opposing piece. The article was written by Alfredo Quarto, a mangroves expert who has seen too many mangroves areas destroyed by golf courses.

By Alfredo Quarto, Executive Director, Mangrove Action Project

This may be an epitaph for Bimini Island - that ‘Island in the Stream’ made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his book by that title. Or perhaps an epitaph for Guana Cay, another Bahamian island pearl which is also losing its mangroves and its unique tropical island beauty, succumbing to mega-development, crooked politics, and the game of golf. Throughout the world this same scenario is being repeated.

Too often, tourism is a booming and busting industry, bringing immense investment dollars and relentless development pressures. In the last three decades the tourist industry has written its recipe for mega-development in mortar and stone and trim, green fairways. Throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, tourists can vacation in luxury resorts, and play golf on neatly manicured, multi-million dollar courses laid out with beach front and ocean view enough to take one’s breath away. But what else is being taken away in the process?

What is clear is that the once seemingly innocuous game of golf has not taken to its new fairways in a fair way, and its greens are not really so green after all. Many of those places where all-out “golf wars” are being waged are now wracked with environmental ruin and social disruption.

What exactly is it about this game of golf that seems so off course?

A Hole-in-One’s History

Golf’s origins in Scotland around the 10th Century seem humble enough. Over the passing millennia, golf spread slowly to new regions around the globe. In the last 50 years, this growth became exponential, with thousands of new golf courses constructed. Golf’s newest growth spurts were especially felt in the last two decades when it became a near US$25 billion industry. In 2005, Golf Digest estimated 32,000 golf courses existed (half of these in the US catering to over 26 million golfers).

Golf has become popular in the Asia-Pacific region, taking hold first in Japan and expanding rapidly throughout Asia. Its rampant spread fomented opposition by both environmentalists and affected local communities against the multi-billon dollar land-grab tied to the apron strings of the greater tourism industry.

Too Many Tee’d-off to Ignore

In 1993 the Global Anti-Golf Movement (GAG’M) formed in Penang, Malaysia. Its mission was to halt destructive golf course development worldwide, while appealing “to golfers to be fully informed and aware of adverse environmental, health and social impacts of golf tourism.”

GAG’M commemorates a “World No Golf Day” on 29 April every year. Mounting global opposition to golf is directed not so much against golf as a sport itself, but against the rapid expansion of the game as an industry. This is an important distinction, which if properly addressed could offer an opportunity for golf lovers and those opposing golf course expansion to work together towards conflict resolution. One step towards peaceful accord involves halting further expansion of the industry, as there are already ample golf courses around the world to satisfy demand. A second step is to remove improperly sited golf courses from economically and environmentally important areas, such as once-productive farmlands, forests, and wetlands, including mangroves and salt flats. Restoring these areas to their prior productive capacities would be of great service.

Illicit development of golf courses on agricultural lands and ecologically sensitive areas has led to massive losses of valuable food production and complex wetland services. Conversion of mangroves to golf courses causes loss of vital functions such as nursery grounds for commercial and recreational fisheries and buffer zones against hurricanes and storm surges.

Falling into the Toxic Trap with no Easy Way Out

The maintenance of golf courses involves wide-scale application of a chemical cocktail to preserve the greens, poisoning both land and waterways in the paths of the effluent, affecting both targeted and non-targeted species.

In addition to toxic runoff, there is massive water use and wastage. On average, 18 million gallons of water per year maintain one golf course, conferring its own negative impact on surrounding countryside, wildlife, and neighboring communities. This can cause problems for affected nearby residents dependent upon the same water resources.

Worldwide, there are approximately 2,500,000 acres of lands converted to golf courses. Multi-purpose, mixed-value resource zones of high biodiversity are lost to low-value, non-native, monoculture production of restricted use - impeding ecological corridors for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Our offspring may well ask us, and we must answer them truthfully, “A golf course, or a living future…please tell us, who chose the golf course?”

08.18.07 | Island Conflicts

Claims of slave-like conditions in Bimini.
Men fed Rice and kept in a Shed with Dozens

Things keep looking worse in Bimini, where the Bimini Bay Resort and Marina is literally ruining the tiny island. Here are a couple recent articles on Bimini Bay. First, a recap of the project:

The Conrad Bimini Bay Resort and Casino is part of an overall new seaside village, the Bimini Bay Resort. The hotel, which will be built in the second phase of the development, will offer 250 luxurious guest-rooms, several fine restaurants, an elegant marina, a spa and a casino. An additional wing of 160 residences will be constructed adjoining the hotel. In a first phase, The Bimini Bay Resort will comprise 320 residential units, 150 marina berths, assorted retail and several restaurants. The subsequent phases will also include an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course and residential villas. Overall, the resort will have 1,590 residential units spread over 700 acres, 500 marina berths, and five miles of white sand beaches.

Read the full story at The Nassau Guardian

"Bimini's Labour Department is investigating claims of labor abuses after several expatriate former construction workers of the Bimini Bay Resort and Marina, who claim they had been working in "slave-like" conditions, publicly criticized the company following their return to Mexico.

An article published in Saturday's edition of El Universal, a Spanish-language newspaper, brought attention to the plight of the seven men who managed to "escape" Bimini after three months of allegedly working in relative servitude.

According to the former employees, an additional 100 workers from Queretaro, Noble, Chiapas, and Federal District remain on the island. The men were reportedly lured to Bimini with false promises only to find less-than-savory conditions when they got there.

Mauricio Holy and David Alejandro claimed that they were paid less than minimum wage, worked 11 hours a day, received paltry medical attention, and were without any form of communication during their three-month employment span.

The men further alleged that their documents were taken from them when they arrived in The Bahamas and they were given work permits so that they could move freely about the island; however, according to one employee who spoke to The Guardian on the condition of anonymity, the Mexican workers are not even allowed to leave the compound on weekdays.

The employees claim they make about $3 a hour, which is $2 less than what most Bahamian employees make at the company. And sometimes, one worker indicated, they are not even paid on time....The men claim they were overworked and mistreated. Their work began at 7 a.m. each day and ended around 5:30 p.m. They were fed only rice with beans and were forced to sleep in a shed with up to 70 people."

Read the full story at The Nassau Guardian

08.18.07 | Island Conflicts

Bimini Bay Draws Concerns

Here are some more quotes from another recent Bimini Bay article from the Nassau Guardian:

Bimini business owners say they'll "catching hell" as an all-inclusive project prepares to open for business.  Most locals agree the Bimini Bay development has helped increase employment, a positive impact on the seven mile island. Biminite business owners, however, feel the project poses a threat to the future income of locals.

"It's gonna dominate Southern Bimini," said Webster Duncombe. "It's of no help to Bimini in the long run."

The multi-million dollar project, which sits on the northern tip of the tiny island, is designed to be all-inclusive, leaving visitors with little or no reason to venture off the grounds.  Bimini establishments are clustered toward the southern end of the island. While many locals fish for a living, there many depending on profits from privately-owned businesses.

Sarah Lee Pinder, employed at a local beauty salon, said tourists don't visit in town as much as they did before.  "The project isn't benefitting Bimini at all," she said. "But it is benefitting Bimini Bay. You can't fight government hill. But the whole development affects each and every person."

08.16.07 | Island Conflicts

Cayman Islands Coral Reefs are Dying

Shurna Robbins wrote an article for Reuters in May 2007 that eloquently explains how quickly coral is being destroyed in Caribbean countries. While the article focuses on climate change, it also discusses the anchor projects associated with cruise ships. As my readers know, the Bakers Bay Club rests on a former Disney/Premiere cruise ship anchor development. The development, which was owned by the Treasure Cay developer at the time, destroyed much of the coral cover on the Sea of Abaco side of the island, and degraded the quality of the Atlantic side reefs, because of dredging operation.

To coral reef-driven tourism industries like those of the Cayman Islands, there could be a greater cost in ignoring climate change than fighting it.

Ranked among the top 10 scuba diving destinations in the world, the reef system of the western Caribbean territory has lost 50 percent of its hard corals in the last 10 years in spite of strong environmental laws, scientists say.

"We are at a very critical time in the history of coral reefs," said Carrie Manfrino, president of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute on Little Cayman island.

"It is like working with a sick patient. How well we treat that patient will determine if that patient survives. We could potentially see the end of hard coral reefs in our lifetime."

The Caymans tourism industry, which represents about 50 percent of the colony's gross domestic product, was kick-started in 1957 when dive industry pioneer Bob Soto opened the first scuba diving operation in the Caribbean.

Fifty years later, about 2 million visitors arrive every year, with most either diving or snorkeling on famous sites like the North Wall or Stingray City.

The sport helped transform a sleepy territory of 8,500 people subsisting on fishing and seafaring into a luxury tourism destination and sophisticated offshore banking center whose 52,000 people have the highest per capita income in the region.

A UN panel -- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- has warned that the world must make sweeping cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid a rise in temperatures that could inundate islands and coastlines under rising seas, and kill off the world's temperature-sensitive coral reefs.

In a report issued on Friday, the IPCC said keeping the increase in temperatures within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) would only cost 0.12 percent of the world's annual gross domestic product.

To Cayman residents who depend on tourism, that would be a small investment if it were enough to save the coral reefs.

Global warming is heating sea water, which leads to coral bleaching, an ailment that causes normally colorful corals to turn white, and white plague, a disease sweeping and killing coral around the world.

PROTECTING THE REEFS

Another threat in the Caymans comes from cruise ships, which have damaged large areas of living coral with their anchors and chains, said Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment.

Yet cruise ships are an important and growing part of the Caymans' tourism industry. Thirty-six percent of tourist revenue comes from 1.7 million cruise ship passengers who visit each year, and more ships are making the islands a port of call.

Even with a 50 percent decline in hard corals, Caymans' reefs are still considered among the healthiest in the Atlantic. Scientists say the islands are geographically isolated by surrounding water 6,000 feet (1,830 metres) deep, which minimizes the impact of pollution from other countries.

The Marine Conservation Law passed in 1986 established the marine park system and has played a key role in protecting Caymans' reefs. But Ebanks-Petrie said it has struggled to adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions.

The dive industry worries that without a coral reef, the Cayman Islands will not have anything different to offer tourists than the rest of the Caribbean.

"If the coral reef dies, the algae will go, and the tropical fish will go. Then there will be nothing left to see," says Nancy Easterbrook, operator of Divetech.

Manfrino said hope is not lost.

"We can't give up," she said. "Science is always coming up with major discoveries, so we may find a way to save our reefs."

08.05.07 | Island Conflicts

Government Regrets Bimini Bay

The Government of the Bahamas has apologized for approving the Bimini Bay development in Bimini. The opposition to this development is the sister-opposition of Guana Cay. The two developments are equally unaccaptable. After seeing Bimini - two tiny islands - destroyed, the Ingraham Government, which approved the development before the Christie Administration came to power in 1999, now looks back at the giant mess they have created. The apology is a step in the right direction. But here is a great article by Nicki Kelly, who opposed the Bimini development from the start, and was ridiculed by the same administration for her words:

Abaco Parrots

06.18.07 | Island Conflicts

Creepy California Golf Course uses Bakers Bay Tactics, but Project Gets Halted

Tehama by the Sea

The website looks like a DLC website

Some interesting news from the home state of Discovery Land Company. A planned megaresort golf development on the Monterey Peninsula, which used Clint Eastwood as its spokesman, was halted this week by the California Coastal Commission.

The development, and the strange tactics it used to paint itself green, remind us that golf developments around the world use deceitful practices to persuade the public or to woo public officials to approve yet another golf course in a place a golf course should never have been built. This is not to say Discovery Land Company isn't particularly bad - their environmental practices are probably the lowest in golf history. But they are not alone. About a year ago, I remember speaking with some officials at the PGA's green division. One of them, angered with my many questions, said, "People just hate golf!"

What he meant was, the public was irrationally against golf for no good darn reason. Looking back at that comment, I cannot disagree more. People don't hate golf, people hate the golf industry when it acts against deceitful. Before I continue, let me quote from the Antigolf Manifesto, an Italian movement to reconsider golf development around the world. This website and manifesto is a reminder that there are existing arguments out there to begin to immediately question all golf course proposals:

1. An immediate moratorium on all golf course development.

2. An open and public environmental and social review/audit of existing golf courses.

3. Existing golf courses should be converted to public parks, and where they lie in forest areas, wetlands and islands, there should be rehabilitation and regeneration of the land to its natural state.

4. Investigations into illegalities in the golf industry, including illegal occupation of public lands and encroachment into protected forests, diversion of water, violation and evasion of corporate regulations and corruption. We call on governments to prosecute the violators.

5. Laws should be passed to prohibit the advertising and promotion of golf courses and golf tourism.

6. Overseas development assistance, from countries including Japan Australia and European public founds should not be used for the promotion of golf courses and golf tourism or the construction of infrastructure related to such development.

The story of Tehama By the Sea is an amazing tale that parallels Bakers Bay Golf & Ocean Club in so many regards. Here are some important links on the subject:

Salon: Poisoned Fairways My apologies to Jake Tapper for quoting liberally from his wonderful piece for Salon. I much prefer you read his full story in the link provided.

But there is reason to doubt the authenticity of the Pebble Beach Company's version of any "story." In November 2000, Monterey County voters had the chance to vote on Measure A, a ballot initiative pushed by Pebble Beach Co., that amended, for the second time, their 1992 request to build the Forest Course. Since the company was asking for permission to build fewer homes, and chop down fewer trees, than its previous two requests, the company figured it could sell Measure A as a pro-environment move. Voters were besieged with glossy fliers. One sent by a company-funded group called the "Committee to Preserve Del Monte Forest" featured lovely nature shots and language urging locals to "vote for the environment ... preserve the Del Monte Forest."

One word that never appears in the flier? "Golf."

Nothing about the minimum 9,000 Monterey pines that will be chopped, or the mountain lions, black bear, great horned owls, coyotes, deer or gray foxes that will be turned out of their homes. Even many pro-golf types roll their eyes when discussing the insatiability of Pebble Beach Company execs. When it comes to its lust for more courses, so as to accommodate more players and more fees, there's only one green guiding the executives' path.

The Pebble Beach Company sank an estimated $1 million into its campaign for Measure A. The environmentalists launched a $30,000 counter-effort, but their opponents' campaign included a very public role for Eastwood -- who in 1999 bought the company for $820 million with three other major (and myriad other minor) investors: 61-time U.S. PGA Tour winner Arnold Palmer, former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, and ex-American Airlines honcho Richard Ferris. Omnipresent TV ads featured the 72-year-old actor/director and his 37-year-old wife, Diana Ruiz, a popular former anchor at the Salinas NBC station, standing in the middle of a pine forest selling Measure A as a green move. The measure passed overwhelmingly, by a 2-to-1 ratio.

And read on...

"But disingenuousness is par for the course (sorry). Golf course owners all over the country trot out the claim that their links have been certified by "Audubon International," for example -- but they do so assuredly knowing that few people know the difference between Audubon International (funded by the U.S. Golf Association as well as developers like Arnold Palmer Golf Management, Marriott Golf, PGA Tour Golf Course Properties, and the Walt Disney Company) and the National Audubon Society, which unsuccessfully sued Audubon International in 1991 for using its name."

The Independent writes, "In my 20 years of attending the coastal commission's meetings, this is the most egregious example of development trying to circumvent the Coastal Act," Sara Wan, one of the commissioners, told the Los Angeles Times. "It amounts to wholesale destruction of the environment, [and] destroys the essence of the Monterey pine forest."

San Jose Mercury News - well written synopsis.

April 27, 2007 | Island COnflicts

Lawsuit seeks to block Ara Macao resort approval


Notes from the Road has been following the story of the Ara Macao Resort and Marina Development in Southern Belize, an area I wrote about in 2002. This development is as equally repugnant as the Bakers Bay Club, although the scale is a much larger one. The Placencia Peninsula, easily visible on any map of Belize, is a huge piece of land characterized by a culture rich in Garifuna and Mayan traditions, and a relaxed tourism-based economy.

I strongly believe in the development of the Caribbean; but I am against 'Miami Overspill' that forces foreign developers to strong-arm themselves into a community, creating monstrous developments that threaten ecosystems, communities and cultures.

Here is the latest from this closely-related fight:

Earlier this month, the Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development
(P.C.S.D.) filed a lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to overturn a decision of the Department of the Environment (DOE) approving the Ara Macao Resort and Marina development at the northern end of the Placencia Peninsula in the Stann-Creek District.

The applicants also asked the court to grant an injunction to prevent Ara Macao Development Ltd. from proceeding with the development. The lawsuit is based in part on DOE's failure to comply with Belize's environmen-tal regulations.

The Peninsula Citizens also maintains that DOE unreasonably and irrationally appro-ved the development because it did not have critical information about environmental issues such as downstream beach erosion, effects of the development on the Peninsula's marine en-vironment (such as lobster, conch and coral reefs) and whether Ara Macao and other new developments could quickly use up the water supply that provides Placencia, Seine Bight, Maya Beach, Independence and Big Creek.

The environmentalists also argue that DOE's approval failed to protect the public's access and use of the 66' public reserve on the beach surrounding the development.

It also says the development violates zoning for the area under the Mango Creek/Placencia Special Development Area, as recognised by Belize law.

The Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development is a Belize non-profit corpo-ration and grass roots community organisation of Placencia Peninsula residents concerned with the development of the Peninsula.

The group (P.C.S.D.) brings information about proposed developments to Peninsula residents to ensure that all developments are environmentally sustainable with respect to the fragile eco-systems of the Peninsula, its communities and cultures.Donations to the Ara Macao Litigation Fund may be made by depositing funds into the P.C.S.D. account at Atlantic Bank, number 100158838.

Donations may also be made by cheque payable to the Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Develop-ment, General Delivery, Placencia, Belize.

(Note: Justice Awich will hand down his decision on whether PCSD can go ahead with its lawsuit on 4 May 2007.)

____________________________________________
Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development Placencia, Belize info@placenciadocuments.info

Feb 21, 2007 | Island Conflicts

BVI Course Passes Despite Objections

After years of fighting from locals and marine biologists, a high-end golf course is going to be built in an area where it should never have been built.

Link from ENN.com "The British Virgin Islands has approved construction of a high-end resort and golf course that would take up most of a largely uninhabited island, the territory's government announced. Developers of the Beef Island Golf & Country Club Resort, a roughly 650-acre project, received government approval mid-February after months of sustained debate in the British Caribbean territory of some 22,000 people."

February 12, 2007 | Island Conflicts

Harbour Island Awakens


Recent posts at The Briland Modem

suggest the islanders of Harbour Island are following Great Guana Cay's lead, finally, and taking a harder line against megadevelopment on their own shores. One poster writes,

"WE realize that there is a need for jobs for Bahamians and that some people think that we are against ALL DEVELOPMENT we want you to know thaty we are NOT AGAINST AL DEVELOPMENT.

We are just against the kind of development that is currently taking place on the island right now.

THIS KIND OF DEVELOPMENT that allows for politicians hand to be greased instead of injections of cash into the local infrastructure."

November 3, 2006 | Island Conflicts

Dying coral reefs threaten tourist industries

Trumpetfish swimming among Guana Cay soft corals

Photo by Erik Gauger. An angelic trumpetfish gracefully swims among delicate soft coral structures in Guana Cay. Guana Cay's reefs are under threat by a California golf developer whose dastardly plan was recently backed by the Bahamian Supreme Court.

An Associated Press article today reiterated the concerns of Guana Cay locals, who have been fighting for two years against a golf megadevelopment on their tiny island. An excerpt from the article:

Nearly 500 million people depend on coral reefs for tourism income and coastal protection, and about 30 million of those rely on coral reefs for their food, according to a 2004 report on the status of coral reefs worldwide commissioned by the Australian government.

“The people who wash the bed linens in the hotels are starting to realize their life depends on the health of the coral reefs,” said Andrew Skeat, executive director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Tourism is the fastest growing major industry in the world, and ecotourism accounts for 20 percent of the worldwide market, according to the Australian report.

In the Florida Keys, millions of tourists spend $1.2 billion annually to see or catch fish and other undersea life, Causey said at the meeting in St. Thomas, where nearly 200 researchers from the Caribbean, Florida and U.S. Pacific islands gathered.

“Some of our reefs receive more dives than anywhere in the world,” he said. “In South Florida, the environment and the economy are inextricably linked. You cannot separate the two.”

Full story is here

Sept 25, 2006 | whereabouts

Edward O. Wilson, in New Bestseller 'Creation' cites Caribbean as Vital Hotspot for Conservation

Edward O. Wilson and Coral Reefs

Wilson warns of further destruction.

In his latest book, 'Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth", Edward O. Wilson calls the Caribbean the second most important hotspot to save in terms of biological diversity. In this appeal to religious America, Wilson describes the reefs as 'retreating worldwide.' He writes, "Those around Jamaica and some other Caribbean islands have largely disappeared."

Corals in Jamaica have declined to about 5% their original cover - it is estimated that in many locations, recovery is impossible. Since so little is known about reefs, the exact causes are unknown. But the rise of megadevelopments and dense hotel construction in the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's.

In parts of Jamaica where development has remained minimal, coral reefs are healthiest. Wilson has been cited as Darwin's natural heir. He is a distinguished researcher, environmental writer and Harvard entemologist.