THE Bahamas National Trust hosted the first ever Bahamas National Natural History Conference last week.
The four-day event ended on Friday with research presentations on the queen conch and a round table discussion on conservation of our local conch supply.
At the closing reception held that evening at the Retreat, the Trust received a donation of $50,000 for the first year of a three-year commitment, totalling $150,000 from the Moore Bahamas Foundation.
According to BNT officials, this grant will be used to help implement what BNT is calling its ‘conchservation’ campaign.
This novel programme will use scientific research in consultation with all entities invested in conch fisheries to design and implement an extensive education effort for protecting and managing local conch populations.
Zack H Bacon III attended the reception on behalf of his brother, Louis Bacon, who founded the Moore Foundation in 1994.
He announced the support Moore Bahamas will give to BNT to aid conch conservation measures.
BNT President Neil McKinney said that Louis Bacon has a “history of caring about the environment behind him and we are really looking forward to working with him.”
Following an introduction by McKinney, Zack Bacon said: “We are thrilled to be here. As you have been told, conch resources in the Bahamas are in serious trouble. BNT came to us with a vision to co-ordinate a comprehensive and integrated advocacy campaign for a sustainable conch fishery in the Bahamas.
“We heard this, we liked the vision and we said we would be happy to back that up. So tonight we announce a three-year, $150,000 grant programme to the Bahamas National Trust.
“Ultimately, this will lay the groundwork for a comprehensive plan and a review of marine resource sustainability in the Bahamas.
“Conservation of conch resources is an integral element of Bahamian culture but it’s also essential to the wider Bahamian ecosystem,” he said.
Following a formal presentation of the contribution, Mr McKinney said: “This donation is going to give us part of the means to go out nationwide to talk to people, hear their views, give them some of the science we have and try to reach some kind of consensus opinion on the way that we can move forward nationally to preserve our conch stocks.”
The donation has already enabled the trust to hire Jared Dillet as their Marine Resources Campaign Co-ordinator to lead the ‘conchservation’ campaign.
He is putting steps in motion to formulate a comprehensive advocacy programme on preserving and managing local queen conch reserves.
“We are going to meet with all the stakeholders and seek to develop ways to preserve the queen conch. I imagine a two-pronged campaign of strong publicity - we really have to get the word out about conch, including the science behind it.
“Second, we have to develop a to-do list of the strategic management measures we plan to use. This is open to evolving as the campaign progresses, because we are still in the early stages of the campaign,” explained Mr Dillet.
After the grant was announced, attendees at the reception, which included many of the scientists from the Natural History Conference, were feted to a delicious meal and the exuberant music of local rake n’ scrape band ‘Scorched Conch’.
The reception was also sponsored by Moore Bahamas Foundation.