Save Guana Cay Reef and The Bahamas
November 15, 2011
Tribune: Residents on Elbow Cay and Guana Cay Urged Protest against Proposed Developments in the Abacos. Green Turtle Cay now seeing same Pattern.
On October 28, The Tribune wrote:
"Residents in Abaco yesterday urged the community to come out and protest against two proposed major developments."
With a 200-boat-slip marina at the Bakers Bay development just yards away sitting under-used, resident Stephen Jenkins said he does not see the sense in building another large-scale marina as it would create over 500 boat slips on the 9.25 mile island.
"Business is dead everywhere since the recession. The marinas are empty," Mr Jenkins said.
"And it is all the big developments that are failing."
A similar pattern in nearby Green Turtle Cay.
September 22, 2009
Guana Cay Inspires Two Major West Indies Environmental Wins: Power Plant and Golf Course Curbed in Abaco and BVI
Something incredible happened in the past week. Two environmental movements made major wins against unrestrained development in the Caribbean. And both issues were directly inspired by Great Guana Cay
A Power Plant under construction without local consultation has been halted after Guana Cay lawyer Fred Smith found out the government was pulling another Bakers Bay.
In the British Virgin Islands, locals banded together after consulting members of Save Guana Cay Reef and their attorney, Fred Smith. The locals won on all counts, and have established the Hans Creek area, an important estuary for BVI, a protected fisheries area. These dual wins further support my conviction that the Bakers Bay Club fight would have a resounding impact around the Caribbean Basin.
June 24, 2009
State of Bahamas Anchor Developments Today
BIMINI BAY RESORT AND CASINO
Developer: RAV Bahamas, a subsidiary olf Miami-based Capo Group
Features: 2,100 Housing Units, a 250 Room hotel managed by Conrad Hilton, a 20,000 square foot casino, small convention center, and 18 hole golf course
Status: Locals successfully RESTRICTED expansion of development.
GINN SUR MER
Location: West End, Grand Bahama
Developer: The Ginn Co. of Celebration
Projected Investment $4.9 billion
Features: 4,000 condominium and hotel units, 1,800 single family homes sites, two golf courses, marinas, a casino and airplane runway with customs and immigration
ABACO CLUB AT WINDING BAY
Location: Cherokee, Abaco Islands
Developer: Peter de Savary
Features: Cottages, Villas, golf course, spa, pools
Status: Not selling units, slashing prices. Lack of interest in isolated area.
Bakers Bay GOLF AND OCEAN CLUB
Location: Great Guana Cay, The Abacos
Developer: Discovery Land Co. of Scottsdale, Arizona
Projected Investment: $500 million
Features: Tennis courts, a golf course designed by Tom Fazio, a 185-slip marina, beach cottages and mangrove bungalows
Status: Not selling units, being brought before highest court in commonwealth, letting workers go.
Location: Paradise Island
Developer: Kerzner International of Paradise Island
Projected Investment: $1 billion
Features: 2,317 room resort, 7 acre lagoon within a 78 acre "waterscape", a large casino and 63 slip marina
Status: Just laid off 800 workers.
EMERALD BAY RESORT
Location: Great Exuma
Developer: EBR Holding Ltd. of Great Exuma
Projected Investment: $150
Features: 183 room Four Seasons hotel, crescent-shaped beach, golf course designed by Greg NOrman, and 150 slip marina able to handle boats up to 200 feet long
Status: In receivership - cant find a buyer - they just laid off 500 workers
RUM CAY RESORT MARINA
Location: Rum Cay
Developer: Montana Holdings of Nassau
Projected Investment: $700 million
Features: New Airport Terminal, and hangar, 80 slip marina, hotel and marina village
Developer: Bahamian Government and "I Group" of Boston
Projected Investment: $1.8 billion
Features: Plans include expansion of the former U.S. Air Force base at Abraham's Bay to include "the world's longest runway" and a trust fund put aside by the developer to finance infrastructure and public services in the Bahamian-occupied portions of the island
Features: Golf course development
April 27, 2009
Great Guana Cay Golf Course Opposition inspires British Virgin Islands Fight
I am posting this full article from Caribbean Net News.A landmark environmental case in the British Virgin Islands, that was inspired in part by the Save the Guana Cay Reef action in the Bahamas, will be heard in the British Virgin Islands High Court from 27th - 29th April 2009.
The case, Virgin Islands Environmental Council v Attorney General and Another, sets a precedent in the BVI as the first environmental and public-interest challenge to a government decision. It involves judicial review of the former NDP Government’s planning approval for a five-star hotel, marina and golf course that would destroy the scientifically documented biologically important Hans Creek Fisheries Protected Area in Beef Island, British Virgin Islands.
Legal issues in the case center around the irrationality of the decision in light of an over-arching “Development Agreement” which pre-approved many of the project components, and the illegality of project approval in blatant contravention of the Fisheries Law prohibiting development that would adversely impact a fisheries protected area.
The case is being fought by the Virgin Islands Environmental Council (VIEC), a coalition of local fishermen, concerned residents, scientists and environmental activists. The politically charged issue came to a head during an election year.
When local lawyers refused to assist, the group reached out to Fred Smith, Freeport attorney for Save Guana Cay Reef, who was the first attorney to give the group a legal opinion on the merits of their case. His timely encouragement and advice enabled VIEC to file their claim against the decision within the six-month time limit for bringing judicial review.
Updated April 23, 2009
Great Guana Cay Blog Roundup
Save Guana Cay Reef continues legal action against Bakers Bay Club and the government of the Bahamas. Despite losses in the Bahamian court system, the case is expected to move to Privy Council in early 2009.
Local Resolve on Great Guana Cay and Abaco Islands.
75 of the 91 Bahamians on Great Guana Cay continue to fiercely oppose the Bakers Bay Club. Opposition is also strong among visitors to the Abacos. Opposition is increasing as more see what the fast-pace of construction is yielding: cookie-cutter Arizona-style megadevelopments closely packed together.
The Big Picture
The islanders of Great Guana Cay live at the very northern periphery of the West Indies; south of them are literally hundreds of similar stories. The locals are one of the first groups to fight against unsustainable overdevelopment on their island in a sustained, all-out front. But other groups around the Bahamas and the Caribbean are learning from Great Guana Cay - and there is good news. Beef Island is also taking a golf and marina megadeveloper to court, and Sir Richard Branson has just signed on to support the legal costs to take the developer to task. At ecologically-critical Pear Tree Bottom in Jamaica, local's won to preserve the island's ecosystem against a golf development.
August 5, 2008
Bahamas Anchor Projects begin to Fail as Upscale Golf Developments across Western Hemisphere Flounder
Prime Minister courts Bakers Bay Club as other anchors go under
The previous Prime MInister of the Bahamas, Perry Christie, based his tenure on the idea of anchor developments - flood the small, quiet out-islands with big foreign money - casinos, golf courses, hideaways for the ultra-rich. Local communities balked and fought, but the administration fought on for what it believed to be the country's economic saviour. Last year, Hubert Ingraham, who had served as Prime Minister before Christie, beat him on a campaign that questioned the anchor development program.
But now, Ingraham is seeing the anchor developments faltering. The news is everywhere, and follows a trend that we are seeing throughout the west, as recession strikes. One example is Lake Las Vegas, a golf megadevelopment now in bankruptcy court. But here in the Bahamas, the anchor projects are crashing left and right. For example, the Nassau Guardian reports of the Rum Cay Project, "The development company behind a Rum Cay project the fate of which even the government has begun to question is conceding delays while maintaining its commitment to press on. "
BahamasB2B reports of the Ginn Project: "In a move that could have serious consequences for Grand Bahama, developers behind the Ginn Sur Mer project have announced that they will have to make "difficult decisions relating to the "management and oversight" of their property in West End after again missing a deadline set by their money lenders...Development companies affiliated with Bobby Ginn had been giv
en 30 days ... to work out a solution to their financial woes after defaulting on a loan repayment..."
February 17, 2008
Three Years Later, Worst Case Scenario
Mangroves gutted. This photo shows almost the entire island. To the left (north) is the Atlantic. The dak splotches in the water there are corals. The dark splotches to the lower half of the photo are seagrass beds and small coral formations, mostly now dead. Center right is the marina under construction, attached to the failed cruiseshipway from the Disney/Premiere destination, which even the current developer admits harmed the coral reef. Photo courtesy SGCR.
Three years ago, hundreds of Bahamian residents and second home-owners on Great Guana Cay banded together to form the Save Guana Cay Reef Association when a California golf developer was given authority to build a megadevelopment on their tiny island without their input or consent. The local community had many fears, and their fears were backed by science and precedent.
Meanwhile, the developer employed tactics to reassure the Bahamian community that the residents were quite wrong about their concerns. Looking at Great Guana Cay today, and the claims made by the locals of Great Guana Cay and the developer, a worst case scenario has been realized. The local's fears about the Bakers Bay Club are proving true. This month, we'll look at every issue in daily updates. Although the developer's promises, and the impact of their development are bad, there is certainly hope for Great Guana Cay, as court decisions loom and scientists begin to discuss ways to restore the habitats of the northern end of the island.
Developers should have a right to develop their land. But community input is essential whenever a development will profoundly affect that community, and this is especially so when the temporary land interests of developers clash with the long-term land interests of a community. Additionally, development in critical ecosystems must abide not just to a particular country's strictest environmental standards, but to the standards that preserve these critical environments - it is not the regulation that matters, but the final result. This is especially true in the Bahamas, whose environmental standards are still a work in progress, and do not yet yet adequately regulate development that affects reefs and mangroves.
The nearshore waters of Great Guana Cay are a critical ecosystem - the island's coral reef is one of the finest staghorn/elkhorn communities in the West Indies. It is of significance not only to the people who rely on it for their employment and tourism, but to the world as well. These Caribbean-Atlantic reef systems are under severe stress. We are losing them, and so protecting this spectacular reef is important for the world's biodiversity. Preserving the reef at Great Guana Cay preserves a habitat that exists nowhere else and which provides shelter to endangered species, such as three species of sea turtle.
The Bakers Bay Club proposal does not address the loss of the coral reef. From the beginning, the developer has refused to acknowledge this.
To save it, the locals must successfully sue the developer and the government, and hope to have the marina and golf course plans removed from the development. A win for Great Guana Cay will impact more than just the lives of the residents, who feel terrorized by the Bakers Bay Club's animosity towards their way of life, towards their resistance, towards their reef.
The following entries will look at each issue caused by the Bakers Bay Club and what is actually happening on the island today.
February 24, 2008
New signs appearing on Great Guana Cay.
January 01, 2008
You Can Fool Some of the People...
After Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham held a private, secret meeting with the Bakers Bay Club late in 2007, he announced that 75% of the Bahamians on Great Guana Cay were terrorists. This is an incredible statement from a Prime Minister of a country of some 300,000 people, who was elected largely on a platform brought to national attention by the residents of Great Guana Cay.
The Prime Minister now calls Guana Cay residents 'terrorists.'
The Prime Minister of the Bahamas called his own citizens terrorists.
These citizens are fighting for their rights.
These citizens have never used violence. Their battle is a legal one and is taking place in the Bahamian courts.
These citizens have always stuck to high ground, deferring to facts.
The message of the people of Great Guana Cay is supported by an international following of concerned marine scientists, human rights activists and conservation organizations.
The term terrorism carries with it the absolute highest negative connotation. This is especially true today, in a world divided and bent by Islamic bloodshed. To call your own citizens, whose action would otherwise be considered both heroic and peaceful, is the ultimate insult. Because of Ingraham's history of levelheadedness, this statement suggest he may have been coerced.
The following is a letter written by Guana Cay Bahamian Aubrey Clarke, of Save Guana Cay Reef after the Prime Minister's shocking betrayal of his own people. The letter was printed in the Abaconian and was well received by Abaconians, who feel likewise betrayed by the Prime Minister's statements.
Please note that the Guana Cay locals continue a peaceful, objective, legal fight against the Bakers Bay Club. The next court appearance is this February.
Was it not Hubert Ingraham, himself who a couple of years ago told us how great Winding Bay at Cherokee was going to be for us? Remember all the great things that Mr. Peter De Savary was going to do? Water for all of Cherokee, jobs for Bahamians, money by the millions and all we had to do was to give up a little bit of our Crown land and Mr. De Savary would do the rest. The REST is history. De Savary is GONE, money is GONE, land is GONE, hundreds of acres of land GONE, and millions of gallons of water GONE, millions of dollars for our treasury GONE. He was even given two taxi plates. No jobs for Bahamians, what a deal!
Now in less than 3 years, Hubert Ingraham wants the people of Guana Cay to do the same deal for Mike Meldman of Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club! Only this time it won't be millions, it will be BILLIONS! Plus according to the WORLDS leading marine scientists, from Jean Michael "../files/ to Dr. Thomas Goreau, that the golf course, only a few feet away from the world's third largest barrier reef, will cause the reef die a slow death from fertilizers, pesticides, waste water and herbicides. These top scientists have sent you and the former Prime minister, reports and letters without any acknowledgement from either you or the former Prime Minister. NO CORAL REEF SCIENTISTS INDEPENDENT OF THE PROJECT AT BAKERS BAY ENDORSES THE GOLF COURSE!!
No Hubert! No, not the people of Guana Cay! We are going to fight you in the courts and we are going to let the world know that you are backing reef killers.
In closing, I want you to understand the meaning of the word "terrorist". You implied, in your press conference that Save Guana Cay Reef members are terrorists.
"Terrorists are those who force an unannounced event on a citizenry. An event planned in secret, intended to overwhelm. The element of surprise is essential.
There is COLLUSION. There is CONSPIRACY. There is a goal in mind that involves paralyzing the population financially and emotionally.
A position of power, resulting in financial superiority and controlling interest. The citizens are the LAST to know. Usually terrorists rely n backing from rogue governments or pay per deed governments."
I believe Mr. Ingraham that the term terrorists fits someone else's shoe, not Save Guana Cay Reefs!
Save Guana Cay Reef Association
February 13, 2008
ReEarth Director Speaks
The Bahamian conservationist and ReEarth Director Sam Duncombe is interviewed by The National Guardian on transparency, golf courses and continued concerns about development in the Bahamas.
"The ReEarth Director said many environmentalists and concerned Bahamians are left in the dark about the details of some proposed projects. "We need to know about all of the developments, so that people who will be affected can have their say on what's going on, and that's what a democracy is all about," she said. "We can't have government in the sunshine if it's cloudy some days and we still have some issues that unfortunately continue no matter which government is in power. But people want to be involved in the forward movement of the country and can only bring issues to light if people speak about them."
Free National Movement Cleans House
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was the second Prime Minister of the Bahamas, he is now also the fourth. After a fierce election campaign between Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, Ingraham has defeated Perry in a landslide. The FNM candidates have also cleaned house across the Bahamas, winning key seats in congress. The press in the Bahamas was taken off guard, many admitting that they were predicting a much closer race.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, once a roommate of Ingraham, has isolated Bahamians with his twisted economic development plan - the very plan which created the existence of this blog.
Unemployment has gone on the rise, public works projects have sat at a standstill, economic indicators are grim. All of this can be attributed to Perry Christie's so-called 'anchor-development plan.'
Prime Minister Christie much preferred the glitzy, fast and unabashedly trashy lifestyle defined by the Miami and greater Florida development booms of the 1980's and 1990's, over the simpler, culturally unique style of the Bahamas.
In American developers whose styles are as dated as the McMansions of Miami, Christie found allies, and premised his entire development plan for the country on his relationships with them.A few weeks ago, a friend of mine forwarded me a letter from an American developer, asking the friend to invest. The letter advertised "very close ties with the Christie Administration.' You know what that means - being friends with the Christie Administration means special favors - let's fudge the environmental reports with our friends in Government, let's offer a few acres of crown land here, a few acres of treasury land there. As long as we're in with the Christie Administration, we can do anything... Christie imagined creating megadevelopments in the small, wayward islands called Out-Islands - and turning them from sleepy white-sand beaches with pristine reefs into gambling centers, swanky clubs, golf resorts and marinas. The economies will boom, he thought. The money will pour in!
The Bahamavention advertising campaign was a complete failure, but its style matched precisely the tourism approach of the Christie administration.
Christie's ideas weren't too different from the Bahamas Tourism ads that appeared throughout North America during the winter 2006-2007 season. The ads were so poorly done, and so offensive to the type of person who might even consider visiting the Bahamas, that it has been claimed that the ads actually have had a negative effect on tourism dollars pouring into the country.
Christie's plan to build the Bahamas through the image of low-rent American developers like Michael Meldman would mean that the Out-Islands would lose the very qualities that made them tourist destinations: coral reefs would be lost, mangroves would be bulldozed, small communities would have dance clubs and gambling halls and giant airports plopped on land they had always rightly and legally believed were theirs for eternity.
Christie's plan, like the Bahamavention ads that paralleled the last days of his administration, is a total and complete bust. Good riddance and welcome back Hubert Ingraham.
Prime Minister Ingraham is a gentleman, a true leader, and a man who has often gone against popular sentiments in the Bahamians to make unpopular moves that turned out to be the smartest move possible.
Ingraham Continues to make Guana Cay the Issue
Guana Cay locals keep the message lit while Ingraham
tours their message across the island nation.
In an article in Bahamas Journal, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham continues to make the Guana Cay issues central to his campaign:
"Five years later they have handed over thousands of acres of Crown Land to foreigners for residential developments for more foreigners. Five years later, deserving Bahamians are still waiting in that long Perry Christie line to have their applications for Crown Land processed," he said.
Electing Ingraham in May is crucial for ending the reckless development spree started by Perry Christie.
May 04, 2007
Guana Cay Citizens to Speak at United Nations Tuesday
MANGROVE DESTRUCTION, CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION
11 AM - Noon, May 8th, 2007
Mangroves are critical ecosystems for shore protection and fisheries, yet are being destroyed at an accelerating pace. This Presentation will discuss the global threats to mangroves and focus on the critical situation in the Bahamas.
Dr. Tom Goreau
President Global Coral Reef Alliance
Alfred Quarto, Mangrove Action Project
Importance of Mangroves, global threats, and mangrove restoration
James Cervino, Pace University
impacts of mangrove destruction on coral reefs and fisheries
Threats to Mangroves in Bimini, Bahamas
Save Guana Cay Reef
Stopping the destruction of mangroves on Great Guana Cay, Bahamas
Fred Smith, Bahamian Attorney
The legal and policy steps needed to protect mangroves
Save Guana Cay Reef to Attend UN Event
Save Guana Cay Reef Association has been invited to send delegates to the United Nations Commission, who will be discussing Sustainable Development in the third world at their New York City offices, in early May.
Tiny Guana Cay will speak at the United Nations on behalf of all environmental concerns in Bahamian Out-Islands as well as on behalf of their own fight against the Bakers Bay Club. The meeting is a historic one for the Bahamas.
The Guana Cay Association began their fight in early 2005 and are still fighting to save their tiny island from what they see as over development destruction. The are now widely recognized in The Bahamas as the grass roots non-governmental organization opposing the Baker’s Bay Club Development on Great Guana Cay’s pristine northeastern end, and the Save Guana Cay Reef Association is now pushing for environmental protection laws for the entire Bahamas.
The attending members from Save Guana Cay Reef have been accredited and will join the historic meeting attended by other member nations from around the world, UN agencies, major international funding agencies, the private sector and the press. Global mangrove protection will be a central issue, and Alfredo Quarto; the President of MAP (Mangrove Action Project) will join SGCR to speak on behalf of mangrove protection in the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
The Association will present videos, scientific documentation and photographic evidence of their concerns about unchecked development from islands throughout The Bahamas.
Loss of mangroves, threats to coral reefs, and fish habitat will be their primary focus. The group will have floor time on May 7th and they hope to capture the attention of the world as they work to save The Bahamas reefs, beaches and oceans. "This will be a wonderful opportunity to share our collection of research with other island nations facing similar concerns," said Sidney Weatherford, Guana Cay life resident and association member.
The association has built an international audience and attracted the support of organizations throughout the world. Scientists supporting SGCR include a coral ecologist from Canada, a coral scientist from Jamaica, a coral pathologist from the Woods Hole Institute in the United States, Jean-Michel "../files/ and Ocean Futures Society and the Sierra Club. The Global Coral Reef Alliance will be joining Save Guana Cay Reef and the association’s lead attorney, Fred Smith, in New York this May.
Save Guana Cay Reef has been integral in building the Save The Bahamas Alliance; a network of out-island environmental and community rights groups fighting like minded battles for local rights and environmental protection. Save Guana Cay Reef also networks with organizations in other Caribbean Basin nations to share ideas about sustainable practices so that these tourism and marine resource-based economies can continue to prosper from their delicate, but bountiful resources.
"We are absolutely not opposed to development," says SGCR President Troy Albury, "we just want the developments to be better planned, the impacts monitored, and most importantly environmentally safe for the surrounding reefs."
This visit is an historical one for the association and the Bahamians who started the campaign. It is the first time a Bahamian delegation has attended the UN on environmental issues and the SGCR members are thrilled to be representing their country and to know that their concerns will be heard internationally.
Save Guana Cay Reef continues to battle the proposed Baker’s Bay Club on the grounds that the development’s footprint is much too large and destructive for this small island whose economy relies on small-scale tourism and fishing. The world’s most respected coral and marine scientists back their position on Baker’s Bay Club’s monstrous mega development. They have stated publicly that the development will harm the islands reef, fishing resources, mangroves, and Guana’s quiet tourism-based economy.
The group plans to travel to the New York after the general elections, which they have been watching with deep interest. “When we started all of this we did not realize what a large impact land sales and development issues would be in the forefront of political concerns.” added Albury, “We are thrilled that our countrymen now know we must be told about every development in our islands and that we have the right to be involved in what happens in our country and most importantly with our land.”
February 20, 2007
Blunders and Bloopers Reveal Corruption
Today was historic in hinting at the layers of corruption in the current Bahamian government. Although the events of today are external to the story of Great Guana Cay's struggle against an unethical American golf course developer, they reveal a picture of the government that allowed this megadevelopment to be created in the first place. And, these events are helping to crumble the current regime. This is of incredible importance; because once this administration has been ousted, Discovery Land Company will likely be forced out as well.
The current Bahamian administration banks its success on a single issue: the building of anchor 'megadevelopments' on the Out-Islands. Out Islands comprise most of the Bahamas; but they are mostly wilderness areas with slow and sustainable development. Economists and ecologists agree that this anchor development approach is wrong: that by destroying the Bahamas' wilderness environments through the building of large casinos, tourism curiousities, mega-marinas and golf courses and excluding locals from involvement in their own backyards, this megadevelopment anchor approach is threatening the very future of the country.
The Bahamas has a worldwide reputation for not always being above corruption. The Bloggy Boyz, a Bahamian political blog group, broke the story of a news piece from a North Carolina developer today. The developer, Infinity Partners, posted a long blog piece today about their involvement in an anchor project in the Bahamas. The blog piece included items that were NEVER meant to go public. But before the developer was able to take the link down, we managed to capture the full text of the entry.
Most notable, the developer admits that the Bahamian Government wanted to announce the news of the megadevelopment 30 days before the election this May. This is the type of corruption that Notes from the Road has been pointing out since we became involved in this story in 2005.
(The link is infinitypartners.typepad.com/infinitypartners)
Here are some quotes from the piece and my comments:
"Margaritaville: Beka has discussed and Buffet is interested in developing a Margaritaville Hotel and Casino and an entire town of Margaritaville."
Jimmy Buffett will never get involved in this project. If he even touches the Bahamian Megadevelopment fiasco, he will turn back on his years of environmental efforts and isolate thousands of his fans. I recommend that my readers contact Jimmy Buffett and all of his fan sites and urge him to stay away from getting involved in these environmentally destructive megadevelopments.
"Golf Development: Beka Development has agreed in principal to have Mike Riley, previously lead designer for Nickolas, design a links course. Additionally, Beka has had significant negotiations with Greg Norman Golf to design a course to PGA specifications for future tour championships."
Golf developments are being approved like mad in the Caribbean right now.
"The existing Bahamian Government has elections on May 5, 2007 they would like to complete all the approvals and make a formal announcement at least 30 days in advance."
"Prohibition from others to access any canals or harbors within five miles of our site."
Keeping Bahamians far away from the rich patrons of these megadevelopments is a classic approach of the Christie Administration. He has become a lackey to foreign developers.
"Environment Approvals: Bahamas Golden Beach Ltd. has engaged the East Bay Group to complete the environmental impact analysis. East Bay Group has expressed no concerns regarding the project master plan and the effect to the environment and is preparing a report for the Government. East Bay Group is well received and respected by the Bahamian Government as they have been involved in a significant number of like environmental approvals."
Here is the address for East Bay Group. I encourage anyone interested in Bahamian community and environment issues to contact East Bay Group and inform them of coral and mangrove issues in the Bahamas:
East Bay Group, LLC
631 US Highway One
North Palm Beach
Tel: (561) 296-4525
Fax: (561) 296-4547
"Casino License: The Government has committed a contingent master casino license for the remainder of the island. The contingency remaining is Bekas ability to complete its definitive agreement with Foxwoods Development Company, Foxwoods willingness to manage for Harcourt Development the existing shut down Royal Oasis Casino and Bekas willingness to purchase Government crown land at the Golden Beach site for a minimum of $5,000,000 ($2,800 per acre). Foxwoods is not obligated to invest into the Royal Oasis Casino."
That the current Administration is allowing this many casinos into the Out Islands is damning. The Out Islands are conservative, religious communities whose rural values are quite different than those of Nassau and Paradise Island.
"The Government has allowed Bahamas Golden Beach Ltd. to be the master developer of the entire east end of the island. This includes an area exceeding 100 sq miles."
This development is another example of a massive, massive sell off of land that was initially set aside as public land for Bahamians. This administration must be stopped before the island nation of the Bahamas is destroyed, its culture lost and its coral reefs in grave condition.
Also, today Immigration Minister Shane Gibson resigned after the Anna Nicole Smith scandal. International media from around the world are reporting on Gibson and reciting stories of corruption in the Bahamas. While the Anna Nicole Smith story is tragic, the fact that a senior member of the current administration fast-tracked her paperwork for personal reasons is just a glimpse into the way this administration operates. It takes an international event to bring one of these crooks down - but the vast majority of corruption by this administration is not being reported by the press.
February 13, 2007
Scandal hints at PLP Corruption, Incompetence
PLP Immigration Minister Shane Gibson is yet to answer several questions about his alleged affair with celebrity Anna Nicole Smith. I have posted some of those questions, taken directly from The Nassau Guardian below. For the purposes of the plight of Great Guana Cay, what is important here is not what Minister Gibson did, but how the current government, which backs the Bakers Bay Club on Guana Cay, is falling apart even as the opposition party steps up in favor of the Guana Cay locals.
Minister Gibson did you ever have any sexual relations, at any time, with Anna Nicole Smith?
Who do you believe is responsible for giving the pictures of you with Ms Smith to The Tribune?
Minister Gibson do you think it was appropriate to be with Anna Nicole Smith as she imbibed an alcoholic beverage in one of the photos, considering that you and your wife said you were mainly ministering and consoling Anna Nicole Smith in her time of bereavement?
At any time did you, Minister Gibson, see Ms Smith taking any sort of drugs, whether prescribed or otherwise, similar to when you witnessed her drinking alcoholic beverages in your presence?
How do you think the Bahamian public should feel about any Cabinet Minister being involved in any type of drug/sex scandal which has placed the nation under intense scrutiny from the international press?
February 12, 2007
Opposition Inspired by Anti-Bakers Bay Coalition
Conservation groups were horrified to find that the Michael Meldman run Bakers Bay Club has already removed the mangroves directly adjacent to Joe's Creek, the heart of the island's mangrove estuary.
The main Opposition Party to the currently elected Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in the Bahamas is called the Free National Movement (FNM). They won 40% of the Bahamian vote in 2002, and are expected to win the general election in May 2007. This 'sustainable development' and 'listen to the locals' approach is being closely watched in the media.
It is interesting to note that the FNM is basing its campaign on messages inspired by the tiny Northern Bahamian island of Great Guana Cay. Following is an article posted from the official FNM website. The message of Guana Cay and Save Guana Cay Reef is finally shaking its way through the rest of the Bahamas. Bahamians find the following message inspiring:
It takes over two hours for a commercial jet to cruise through The Bahamas from north to south. During that journey travellers enjoy a spectacular birds-eye view of The Bahamas astronauts have enjoyed since the dawn of the space age.
One of the original astronauts, Russell Schweickart, after a trip into outer space in 1969 said this: “Of all the beautiful sights I saw from the spacecraft, the waters of The Bahamas stick in my mind as the most spectacular of all.”
Air Travellers see unspoiled jewels - the Abaco Islands, the Berries and the Exumas - within an archipelago of unmatched marine and terrestrial colour. They fly over Andros, the fourth largest island in the Caribbean; Great Inagua, home of the magnificent flamingos and many threatened and endangered birds; Little Inagua, the largest uninhabited island in our region – now a nature preserve thanks to the first FNM Government.
The captain of the airliner might inform passengers that Singapore, an economic tiger, comprises 683 square kilometers of land and to sustain its development has had to ask neighbouring Indonesia for a long-term lease on a nearby island.
By contrast The Bahamas boasts 3,780 sq. km. of land and 10,070 sq. km. of ocean. We possess the land and marine resources necessary to secure the Bahamian dream for all our sons and daughters and their children’s children.
What a wonderful natural heritage we have! It is ours to protect and enjoy, not to give away to the highest bidder. It presents us with unique possibilities and opportunities and together we must leverage these possibilities and utilise these opportunities.
This challenge calls for 20/20 vision, meaning a vision of what we want our country to look like in the year 2020 and beyond. The FNM has that kind of vision, a vision that enables us to see the extraordinary potential of our country, a potential which the next FNM Government will foster by empowering our people with the tools needed to shape our shared future.
Our 20/20 vision is holistic and comprehensive. It requires us to have our own concept of development; to devise our own master plan. It requires the unleashing, cultivation and nurturing of the Bahamian imagination for the benefit of our Bahamaland and our people.
The PLP “vision” is blurred and short-sighted. Their leaders are bent on projects which will supply meager benefits for the country, giving away too much for too little. They have turned a blind eye to environmental damage, demographic disruption, and the economic distress their policies are causing.
The controlling elements in the PLP are cabinet ministers and their cronies who, along with certain foreign “developers”, believe The Bahamas is being “discovered” for the first time.
Some of these developers have also “discovered” that the PLP is willing to provide them with extensive “hope and help” in the form of thousands of acres of inexpensive public land, unprecedented concessions and briefcases full of work permits.
The FNM has a different vision. We will invite foreign investors and other friends of The Bahamas to participate in our journey, but it will be a journey planned and devised by Bahamians from all walks of life in every island.
We will invite young and old, professionals and technical people, trade unions and employers, environmentalists and developers, artists, educators, and entrepreneurs to join us in developing a Bahamian vision and strategic plan for the nation.
We will transform the economy by creating wealth and opportunity for more Bahamians. The PLP is content with little crumbs from the table of their so-called economic model of foreign- owned anchor projects for each Island. The FNM will work to increase Bahamian ownership of the economy through a plan for the sustainable development of our Islands and in the Family Islands, ownership of small guest houses and hotels by Bahamian entrepreneurs.
We will work to protect the security of the nation. We have already proposed long-term strategies to deal with our pressing social problems and we will have more to say about that. But in the meantime we will pursue a national security agenda which vigorously combats crime, rehabilitates the wayward, protects our borders and our resources and prepares to respond effectively and quickly to natural disasters.
We will advance democracy and freedom through ongoing political reforms. These will include public sector upgrade and reform, enhanced mechanisms for restoring transparency and accountability and a deepening and further development of local government.
We will invest in people and their communities through compassionate social development. Our vision is one of an innovative social policy that will further the human development of our people. Accordingly, we will transform education and training and implement a balanced national health insurance plan. We will protect the needy.
We will preserve our cultural heritage through programmes of cultural renewal. The FNM created the widely-acclaimed National Art Gallery. We will develop other institutions needed to preserve, encourage and promote our unique Bahamian culture.
We will secure our natural resources by providing strong environmental stewardship. The FNM’s record of environmental protection is unmatched by any political party in the history of The Bahamas. Our continued commitment to preservation of our resources will include a greener, more energy-efficient government, new conservation initiatives, strengthened regulation and control of pollution and the development of rational land use policies. We will encourage ecosystem restoration of the damage done by PLP policies which have allowed the filling-in of wetlands for golf courses and other purposes. (We will have more to say later about our proud record in creating land and sea parks and conserving ecologically sensitive wetlands for future generations).
We will advance Bahamian interests abroad and at home. We will pursue balanced and sensible international relations always with the best interests of the Bahamian people as our objective. Our foreign policy will help secure our economic future, our political interests and our national voice in the international arena.
The guiding principle behind the FNM’s policies will be the protection and sustainable development of these beautiful islands for the maximum benefit of the Bahamian people. It is by that yardstick that we will set our goals, develop our national policies and measure each and every proposal for investment and development.
We have a great deal more to say about our 20/20 vision for The Bahamas but in the meantime we invite visitors to our website to join us in this dialogue for a more integrated and comprehensive plan of national development. We are listening.
October 2, 2006
Save the Bahamas Meeting Unites Diverse Out Islands
Preliminary reports from the Save the Bahamas Meeting in Freeport indicate a smashing success. Leaders in coral conservation from around the Americas attended, and representatives from several Out Islands groups showed.
The Freeport News writes about the Freeport Save the Bahamas Meeting.
Here is the official Press Release from the Save the Bahamas Meeting:
Dr. James Cervino discusses the role of developments and algae growth on coral systems in the Caribbean. Photo SGCR.
The first meeting of Save The Bahamas was held this past weekend in Freeport with an all day seminar and meeting at the Westin Resort at Our Lucaya. Focus was on the issues relating to the effect of developments on the environment, local communities, economy, the local culture, and local industries. Also discussed was the need for a stronger local government position for all of the islands, public consultation concerning developments, and protecting Crown Land for future generations of Bahamians.
This meeting was the first time an organized event had been held to target these hot-button topics. Save Guana Cay Reef Association, fresh from the victories in Privy Council, that has stopped all work at Bakers Bay, Guana Cay by Discovery Land Company, hosted the event. "I am very excited that we have formed Save The Bahamas. It was amazing to talk to the other islands and realise that they all are experiencing the same problems as Guana. The same irresponsible development and lack of environmental protection is apparent in all areas of the country. Together we can make a difference in what we leave behind for our children. We need to get the message out to our government (both present and future) that our marine and terrestrial environments are the only natural resource we have and we need to get some serious legislation with teeth, in place, to protect them," said Troy Albury, President of Save Guana Cay Reef Association.
Dr. Tom Goreau arrived in Freeport fresh from Panama to deliver a speech on coral reef protection to the Save the Bahamas coalition. Tom Goreau is President of Global Coral, and an esteemed coral scientist. Photo SGCR.
In attendance were local business and community representatives from Freeport, Nassau, Abaco, Bimini, and San Salvador. Also, there were representatives from many well known environmental organizations; Sam Duncombe from ReEarth, Eleanor Phillips from The Nature Conservancy, Erik Carey from The Bahamas National Trust, Lori Kenyon from Friends of The Environment, and local business owners who's businesses depend on niche tourism like; diving, fishing, eco-tourism, small resort management/ownership and real estate. Dr. James Cervino from Pace University in New York, a leading coral pathologist and Dr. Thomas Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance were also in attendance. Both gentleman spoke about the ill effects of development damage to local reefs and beaches, and noted that Bahamians need to be pushing for environmentally friendly developments.
Dr. Goreau, formerly a Senior Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, also debuted his film “ TOURISM, WATER QUALITY AND CORAL REEF HEALTH” at the conference. The film highlighted the impacts of captive dolphin and turtle pens and excessive waste on water quality that effects reef health and can be viewed at www.globalcoral.org
Plans are in the making for additional meetings in the near future. In the process of planning this event Save Guana Cay Reef Association was contacted by numerous individuals from all of the Bahamian islands who support their desire to expand Save The Bahamas to include everyone affected or concerned with similar issues. A representative from Bimini who attended the meeting was delighted to have had the opportunity to network, in particular, with members of organizations operating within The Bahamas who have effectively dealt with problems similar to those Bimini is now facing. “In order for The Bahamas to survive as a tourist destination, it must protect and preserve it's incredibly rich marine environment by insisting that development be properly scaled, properly regulated and sustainable."
Summing up the event Sidney Weatherford, a seventh generation Bahamian from Great Guana Cay, Abaco noted "I would hope that Save The Bahama's will encourage more Bahamian's to voice their outrage at what is happening to our island's. We need to stand up and say no more "give away's" of our Crown Land, no more destruction of our mangroves and no more golf courses and marinas near our sensitive reefs. We need tough environmental laws in the Bahamas and the laws need to be enforced!"
January 28 , 2006
World Premiere of Global Coral Film in Bahamas
A new short documentary film by the Global Coral Reef Alliance, Tourism, Water Quality, and Coral Reef Health, had its World Premiere showing today at the SAVE THE BAHAMAS Conference in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
This film, shot and edited by Dr. Thomas J. Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, shows the impacts of nutrients from captive dolphin pens in Mexico and a captive turtle pen in the Cayman islands on the surrounding reef, including bacteria and algae blooms that kill corals which are associated with high levels of coral disease. The film points out that coral reefs are the most sensitive ecosystem to nutrients, that the effects of human sewage, waste disposal, and fertilizers on golf courses and agriculture are responsible for the vast bulk of the problem, and that these can be quickly reversed, but only if all land-based sources of nutrients to the coastal zone are recycled on land instead of polluting the ocean.
The SAVE THE BAHAMAS Conference is the first time that grass-roots environmental organizations from all over the Bahamas have met to unite in common efforts to stop the uncontrolled mega development schemes that are causing their mangroves to be bulldozed and their reefs and fisheries severely damaged by nutrients from inadequately treated sewage and fertilizers from golf courses, which is degrading the quality of life of all Bahamian residents. Islanders realize that they face similar threats on most of the islands, but must unite to preserve their future options for sustainable development before the damage becomes so widespread to be irreversible.
This effort springs from the remarkable recent court victory of the residents of Guana Cay in obtaining an injunction to halt a development scheme which would have severely degraded the natural resources and fisheries, deprived the islanders of access to major fishing grounds, and destroyed their juvenile fish nursery habitat. It follows international protest over ongoing efforts to destroy large areas of mangrove in Bimini for a marina. The meeting also recorded strong local opposition to locating natural gas liquification plants in the Bahamas for shipment to Florida, because these have been rejected by Florida as too dangerous to have there!
October 1 , 2006
Caribbean Travel & Life November issue reports in on Great Guana Cay and Bimini, referring to both development opposition groups as creating a 'considerable ruckus. "Descendents of the Abaco Loyalists along with expat homeowners - are battling tooth, nail and barrister against a 585 acre project called Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club...at press time, construction had been halted by a Privy Council stop-work order while Bahamian courts pondered the issue."
More and more large international magazines and newspapers are catching on to the story of Great Guana Cay versus the California golf developers.
Sept 27, 2006
Coalition to Save Bahamas Becoming Powerful Force
A press release from today confirms the mounting size of the Save the Bahamas Coalition.
Coalition to convene Environmental and Local Rights Conference in Freeport
The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association and Save Guana Cay Reef Association this weekend will host a “Save the Bahamas” conference in Freeport.
Both Associations have organized a meeting of delegates from throughout the Bahamas who represent Family Island communities trying to promote and save their local rights, traditions, culture, land and marina environments.
Thus far, nearly 100 people have registered to participate. These include representatives from Andros, New Providence, The Abacos, Bimini, Eleuthera, Mayaguana and Grand Bahama.
In addition, a number of dive operations, NGO’s and eco-tourist resorts have also confirmed attendance.
Also in attendance will be the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, world-renowned coral pathologists, wetlands restoration specialists, and marine biologists.
Mrs. Sarah Kirkby, Secretary of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, said that they were “very excited about this coalition”.
“This is looking like a great opportunity for the Bahamas in many ways. We have environmental experts from around the world joining forces with us and the commitment from the Family Islands has been astonishing. We can’t wait to meet the people who will attend. We all seem to be experiencing the same challenges! We have heard some horror stories about their struggles with development issues.”
Mr. Troy Albury, President of the Save Guana Cay Reef Association, said,
“The reports we have been getting from the rest of the Bahamas are shocking. Its really scary how similar they are to Guana Cay. This coalition is going to be really powerful. The people of Guana Cay have led the way to save their local rights and environments. Together we can do this for all of the Bahamas!”.
Mr. Smith, President of the Human Rights Association said,
“Save the Bahamas will be a powerful NGO. With its local Bahamian network throughout the Family Islands, its huge international connections, the support it has received from the environmental community, it will be a strong and lasting national and international advocate to protect local rights and the environment.
“Since the late 1980’s, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association has promoted local rights and was instrumental in getting the FNM Government to pass the Local Government Act helping to begin the transfer of power to the people and decentralizing the colonial dictatorship structure of Bahamian governance.
The work of the Save Guana Cay Reef Association has merged local rights and environmental issues. They are inextricably intertwined.”
The object of the conference is to provide a forum for all of the diverse communities of interest to share their challenges. This will be a wake up call to politicians, in particular, Cabinet. This should be an exciting election issue for both the FNM and the PLP.
The Association will push for both political parties to publicly commit to passing an Environmental Protection Act, the creation of an Environmental Protection Agency which will have teeth and effective regulatory oversight of developments by Bahamians and foreigners throughout the Bahamas.
The Association will also push for amendments to The Local Government Act to strengthen the ability of local communities to govern their own affairs.
Mr. Smith said,
“Family Island Home Rule is a must! It will come!
The Family Islands contribute hundreds of millions of tax dollars every year to the Public Treasury. They are treated like colonies and their human and physical resources are raped and pillaged by Central Government in Nassau. They are treated like bastard children.”
The Save the Bahamas Association will become the Green Peace of the Bahamas environmental landscape.
The conference will begin with a cocktail party for delegates to get to know each other on Friday.
On Saturday the conference will be chaired by Mr. Joseph Darville of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association.
There will be a presentation by each group to educate each other on their challenges and needs.
Mr. Troy Albury will give an overview of the successful war waged against the Central Government and foreign development abuse at Guana Cay and Mr. Frederick Smith will give an overview of environmental law in the Bahamas.
On Sunday Kayak Nature Tours will graciously provide visits to the Gold Rock Creek National Park in Freeport, Grand Bahama and guests will have an opportunity to see the disgraceful destruction of the environment at the Disney and Gold Rock Creek Film Studio destroying the beach, wetlands and entrance to the National Park.
Mr. Albury said,
“This coalition is a water shed event for the future of the Bahamas. We are thrilled that so many passionate people have committed to become involved”.
Mr. Smith concluded his comments,
“The days of wholesale development destruction and abuse of Family Islands rights is over. Both the PLP and FNM will now have to wake up and recognize our rights. It is time for a new Bahamian Development Paradigm”.
September 23, 2006
Save Guana Cay Reef fever spreads throughout Bahamas as Nation-wide Coalition Meeting Looms
Earlier this month, Save Guana Cay Reef association announced that it would hold a country-wide meeting to build a coalition of similarly affected Out-Islands, whose environment and culture are all similarly being harmed by unethical relationships between the Bahamian Government and foreign developers.
Response to the meeting has been overwhelming. This upcoming weekend, hundreds of leaders from around the Bahamas will meet to discuss ways to save local Out-Island environments.
Add to that, some of the world's most distinguished coral and conservation leaders will join the Bahamians to help save their country. According to the Save the Bahamas website, "Local Rights Groups feel that there is strength in numbers, and if we could create an organization that could unify our efforts on a national scale we could all help each other."The site continues: The response for the "Save The Bahamas" meeting this coming weekend in Freeport has been tremendous! As a result we have outgrown our previous meeting space: The Ferry House restaurant. We will now be holding our meeting on Saturday at Our Lucaya Resort (directly across the street from the previous location). We have also expanded our meeting times to 8a.m. -5p.m., in an effort to accomodate the wide range of attendees and speakers. There will be an optional lunch available (at a very reasonable cost) or guests may choose to go elsewhere for lunch. We look forward to seeing you this weekend beginning at Yellow Tails bar and grill (at Pelican Bay resort) at 7:15 Friday evening for a casual meet and greet. Reservations are still available at Pelican Bay resort and at surrounding hotels. Thank You and See You There!
Rumors persist that Discovery Land Company intends to send its workers to demonstrate against the meeting. Let's certainly hope so.
July 21, 2006
Honorable Hubert Ingraham responds to Notes from the Road
Recently, former (note: now current) Prime Minister of the Bahamas and Abaco native Hubert Ingraham wrote to Notes from the Road to discuss our stance on Great Guana Cay .
Ingraham has often taken positions opposite of the Bahamian public, and history has treated him well for taking powerful stands on matters that would have been considered radical in its time.
In his letter to Notes from the Road, Ingraham denounced the current administration for its handling of the Great Guana Cay issue. He writes:
"...the people most impacted by the development, the residents of Great Guana Cay, were not properly kept in the picture as the Government moved to sell or long lease much if not all of the remaining public lands on the cay to the private developers of the Baker’s Bay Resort. This was wrong and unacceptable.
As legitimate concerns were raised by residents concerning possible adverse impacts on their livelihoods as fishermen and tour dive operators should the proposed development damage the off-shore coral reef, the government became secretive; it withheld from the public information contained in the Environmental Impact Assessment conducted on the proposed development. This caused many people to expect the worst from the development.
The veil of secrecy continued as residents of Great Guana Cay sought to learn how their traditional access to beaches and to traditional crabbing areas falling within the proposed development zone would be preserved. Again mistrust was fostered."
The FNM must have a stronger public stance on Bakers Bay Club. The FNM has an honorable history on changing the way the Bahamas acts towards the environment. Backing the locals of Great Guana Cay will enforce this legacy.
The letter from the Honorable Ingraham included much more detail, although we will release that detail at a later date.