The rapidly-growing environmental movement, Save The Bays, gained more momentum when a local group with 400 members and a history of grass roots activism joined the campaign.
“We are delighted to announce that yet another NGO, EARTHCARE, has joined Save The Bays,” said Fred Smith, QC, a director of Save The Bays.
“When we initially proposed creating an independent non-profit organization that would be actively engaged in seeing that the coral reefs of Clifton Bay were rescued and restored to the majestic beauty that made them world famous, we got tremendous support.
But the values that attracted supporters to Clifton Bay and the western bays were greater than a single body of water and the movement has been growing beyond our wildest expectations. It has mushroomed overnight, now reaching waters in Bimini, Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama.”
The destruction to the Clifton Bay barrier reefs due to ongoing oil leaks and other development at Clifton’s industrial area wasn’t the only reason environmental education NGO EARTHCARE joined forces with Save The Bays in a nationwide effort to protect marine ecosystems, but it was certainly an accelerating factor, said its founder.
“We are particularly excited about the organization’s future plans for Bimini, which I have been involved with for years said Gail Woon, Founder and Executive Director of the educational organization. Woon recently received her Diploma in International Environmental Law from the United Nations Institute of Training and Research.
“In joining with the Coalition, I hope to be able to utilize this new training in order to assist the group to have an Environmental Protection Act passed as well as a Freedom of Information Act. EARTHCARE will continue our environmental education efforts on fisheries, habitat, water quality, pollution, invasive species, wetlands, and any topics that teachers need through our outreach efforts. We are excited to be a part of the team.”
EARTHCARE was formed in 1988 when Woon was asked by teachers to speak to their students on environmental issues affecting The Bahamas. Funded in part by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Foundation for the Caribbean and The Ocean Conservancy, a quarter of a century later, more than 400 members have signed up to volunteer by visiting schools to raise awareness about issues affecting the environment.
“Having EARTHCARE join our team opens the door to a whole new set of opportunities and objectives involving environmental education,” said Save The Bays Director Smith. “Gail Woon is a veteran environmentalist and her two-and-a-half decades of activism will surely strengthen the overall plans of our collaboration.”
EARTHCARE has been actively involved with International Coastal Cleanup Day for the past 25 years, was instrumental in the Coalition to Ban Longline Fishing in 1993, and has supported the Save Bimini project to minimize the impact of a mega-resort development on North Bimini among many other projects over the years. The organization’s efforts — including school visits to raise awareness — helped in the overall effort that led to a ban on harvesting sea turtles in The Bahamas in September 2009.