THE advocacy group Save The Bays has gained another partner.
The West End Eco-Fishing Camp Association (WEEFCA) is a community-based non-profit organisation that teaches children about the environment, water safety, boating skills, swimming, fishing and snorkelling in an effort to instill respect for the environment.
“We are delighted to join the list of partners/supporters who stand with Save The Bays in its goal to protect the Bahamian environment for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations,” said Keith Cooper, WEEFCA association’s director.
“WEEFCA is dedicated to ensuring that the next generation has an opportunity to enjoy the natural resources and beauty of our islands. We look forward to working with Save The Bays to raise awareness of any issue affecting our natural world.”
Founded in 2008 by Cooper and his wife Linda, WEEFCA has grown from a small eco-fishing camp and last year catered to more than 80 children in Grand Bahama.
Since its inception, more than 250 underprivileged and at-risk youths have graduated as environmental stewards. These children, aged eight to 16, are encouraged to seek careers in tourism, the marine sciences and the maritime industry.
“Our primary goal is to deter them from a life of crime and drug abuse,” Mr Cooper said. “By showing them the beauty of their environment and opportunities available to them, right in their back yard, we hope they will become productive citizens.”
WEEFCA runs two camps - the first a 13-weekend spring/summer programme in which children are introduced to nature and plant identification, as well as traditional bush medicines, bird watching and fishing. In addition, they are taken on eco-tours, take part in environmental clean-up initiatives and are taught basic first aid, man-over-board rescue operations and swimming.
The second camp is a four-week programme that introduces children to snorkelling, sea life and the underwater environment.
“We are excited to have such a pioneering youth education group join us in the important work of protecting, promoting, and educating people about our beautiful Bahamian environment,” said Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy.
“The West End Eco-Fishing Camp shares our philosophy of passing the mantle of environmental conservation on to the next generation, and linking the health of our natural resources to the health of our society as a whole. They are exactly the kind of innovative and forward-thinking group we want to attract to our cause.”
Save The Bays has more than 500 registered members, almost 17,000 followers on Facebook and has just reached 6,000 signatures on its petition on Change.org.