The Bahamas remains committed to setting aside 20 percent of its territorial waters as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2020, a Cabinet minister has confirmed.
Romauld Ferreira, minister of the environment and housing, told the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, that The Bahamas’ pledge covers a further 8.1m acres of ocean.
“In 2014, The Bahamas established the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund, and committed $2m to” it, Mr Ferreira said at the conference held from November 26-28. “We announced the significant expansion of our marine-protected areas system to at least ten percent protection, increasing the marine protected area inventory by 11 million acres.”
He added that, in 2015, the Government successfully achieved that goal. Since then, it has committed to advancing the declaration and legal establishment of the remaining ten percent of marine protected areas.
“This would represent 43 newly-proposed marine protected areas, covering more than 8.1m acres of clear, blue ocean,” Mr Ferreira said. “This new commitment will assist The Bahamas to meet its target as a member of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative to set aside 20 percent of marine protected areas by the year 2020, and the goal as envisioned by SDG 14.”
Mr Ferreira said that to address solid waste that can affect the ocean, The Bahamas has pledged to ban selected single-use plastics and styrofoam by 2020.
“Among the selected single-use plastics for eradication are plastic bags, straws, food utensils, styrofoam food containers and cups,” he said. “In addition to the ban, and in furthering our efforts to curb marine pollution, legislation will be introduced, making the release of plastic balloons into the air illegal.”
Draft legislation for the ban will be circulated by early 2019, Mr Ferreira said. He added that the enactment of that legislation was expected on January 1, 2020.
“We are engaging youth and women, civil society and the private sector,” Mr Ferreira said. “In fact, our private sector partners have taken the lead by replacing many of their single-use plastic and styrofoam products with more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
“Additionally, The Bahamas will become a signatory to the Clean Seas Campaign launched by the United Nations Environment Programme by the end of this year.”