Calls For Government To Withdraw Bell Island Dredging Permit

Thursday 06th, January 2011 / 20:00 Published by

Many have asked when I planned answering the three column “Response to article by Mr. Dupuch” published in the December 13, 2010 issue of The Tribune, and written by Mr. Brensil Rolle. Frankly, this is planting time for us farmers and I have been busy planting my gardens.

Before I get into Mr. Rolle’s letter let me take this opportunity to wish all of you a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year.

It is amazing how some people bring up half truths in order to hide the real issue. Mr. Rolle said that he had “challenged him (Dupuch) to speak the truth about the dredging that he alleged was taking place in the Exuma Land and Sea Park.” The fact is that I was not alleging anything. I was disagreeing with the fact that the Minister had given permission for dredging in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, which involved an area fifteen feet deep and covered an area of several acres.

Whether it had started or not was completely immaterial to the discussion. The point is that permission was granted for dredging in the Park. Being an old farmer at heart I believe that one should start hollering when the barn door is open and before the horse bolts, not when the horse has already bolted. And if the barn door is simply pushed closed one continues to shout until the barn door is closed and locked. It may be true that dredging has not started, but the barn door is still unlocked and as soon as you turn your back the horse will bolt. The Minister’s permission to dredge the area has not been rescinded.

The fact remains that if the proposed dredging takes place in the park, it will destroy much that makes it a park, the reef, the sand dunes, the nursery for young conch, crawfish and fish. Some have said that I don’t believe in the development of the Park. This is not so. But at this stage “development” must be defined.

A make up artist goes into the studio of a beautiful starlet, and administers make up to the starlet’s face. This enhances her beauty and helps develop her career as a starlet. We applaud this. But if the same makeup artist entered the room with a sledgehammer and proceeded to smash the face of the starlet, he/she would then be destroying the very essence of the starlet. We would condemn this.

The Exuma Land and Sea Park is a Bahamian star. It is a thing of beauty, a nursery where the mothers of the sea raise their young. We should enhance it and develop its beauty, not sledgehammer it and destroy its very essence.

Mr. Rolle suggested that I should have resigned from Cabinet because during my term as a Member of Cabinet dredging had been allowed in the Land and Sea Park. Firstly, I don’t recall any proposal such as the one signed by Minister Deveaux ever coming before Cabinet.

Secondly, if Mr. Rolle would recall, The Prime Minister created the BEST commission and appointed an Ambassador to the Environment who was directly responsible to the Prime Minister. Environmental Impact studies were done by BEST, and the Ambassador to the Environment did not have a seat at Cabinet.

Instead of condoning this type of dredging in the National Park, the BEST Commission, the Bahamas National Trust, the Ministry of the Environment and the Prime Minister’s Office should all show respect for the natural assets of The Bahamas, and in particular for our shining star — the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

I would like to call on the Prime Minister, and the Minister of the Environment, to stop the irresponsible destruction of our natural assets that is taking place throughout The Bahamas, to immediately reverse their decision to allow dredging at Bell Island, and to establish and enforce strict preservation guidelines for the National Park and the entire Exuma Cays chain.

By Pierre V.L. Dupuch
January 6, 2011

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