By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
ENVIRONMENTAL activists yesterday reiterated calls for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Genting’s multi-million dollar resort and cruise ship terminal investment on Bimini to be published, saying the island was in a “precarious state”.
Speaking at the launch of the first Bahamas Waterkeeper Alliance, Joseph Darville, a director of Save the Bays, said the group was looking to establish what he called a “symbiotic relationship” between industry and major developments without negatively - and significantly - impacting the country’s delicate ecosystems.
The Water Keeper Alliance, an international grassroots advocacy organisation founded by Robert F Kennedy Jr, is among the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements, with more than 200 local waterkeepers patrolling rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on six continents.
“As a whole, Bimini is probably the only place left on this earth which has an abundance of mangroves, which will be critically necessary in the future to preserve refuge for fish and all sorts of sea creatures. What has been destroyed is irreplaceable by the hands of man,” said Mr Darville, describing recent developments as a “nightmare”.
“We want an Environmental Protection Act with teeth and resolve, as well as a Freedom of Information Act,” said Mr Darville.
Environmental attorney Romauld Ferreira added: “The ecology of Bimini, the island itself, is in a very precarious state. We’re talking about north Bimini in particular.
“With the expansion of the Waterkeeper Alliance to Bimini and the Bahamas local chapter, what we’re saying is that we want to focus on Bimini. We’re concerned that there is unregulated development on Bimini, we’re concerned that precautions and that the safeguards to protect the coral reefs which protect Bimini are not in place.
“We’re concerned that unregulated development will result in the deterioration of reef quality, through disturbing the seabed, algae, over growth to excessive sewage. We’re saying it stops here, we’re not going to sit by and let something like this happen when it’s in our power to affect change,” Mr Ferreira added.
“We are also concerned that the development footprint extends over into the proposed marine park and Marine Protected Area. The BEST Commission announced that there would be a marine park at north Bimini. Now we’re hearing about this mega development, proposed golf course, we have seen no EIA and we understand that the development footprint impacts on that. The marina nursery function of the mangroves in north Bimini is worth saving. All we’re asking for is the information, which would have been in the public domain in any first world country.”