Exuma, The Bahamas – Career Environmentalists and Marine Biologists are advocating conservation and clean environmental protection practices that benefit all living in the community.
These new Bahamian residents have chosen to invest in The Bahamas, as a second home and have been agitating community concern for proper waste management best practices.
They are attracting international environmental organisations, such as the Integrating Watershed and Coastal Area Management (IWCAM) Project, based in St. Lucia, which provided some of the funding for the wastewater treatment plant and harbour management initiatives.
“I have been working and doing research around the Exumas for about six years. There have been scientists that have done work here in the past to identify water quality issues in the harbour from about 10 years ago,” said Catherine Booker, environmental consultant for IWCAM project.
“At that time, it was determined that there are impacts to water quality from not only boats in the harbour, but sources of pollution on land. So this project has aimed to address the issues of direct discharge of sewage in the water by boats. It’s been a long time coming and people in Exuma have been concerned with this issue for a long time.”
Out of the 4,000 Exumians currently residing on the mainland and cays, environmental awareness has increased among at least half of its residents in the last 10 years. Bahamians, who are now exposed to the scientific research conducted in their communities, are beginning to understand the importance of reducing their carbon footprint to protect the environment.
“The water is such an attraction for people and we would like to think it could be as clean as it looks,” said Ms. Booker.
“The seasonal influx of yachts into the harbour peaked out around 275 boats this year. In the past, there has been up to 500 boats. But any given year, you can expect about 300 to 500 boats to be in the harbour for three to four weeks out of the year and the cruising season lasts about four to five months with 200 to 300 boats during that time.” The growing number of American and Canadian yachters coming to vacation in Bahamian waters have been supportive of the efforts in Elizabeth Harbour.
The daily rate to moor their boats in the cove range from a daily rate of $15 per day, a weekly rate of $84 per week, and a monthly rate of about $300 a month.
“Right now, there is a pump out boat which goes around to vessels that call to collect sewage from their boat and that allows an alternative for them, so they won’t have to directly discharge in the water while they are here in the harbour,” said Ms. Booker.
“So, it’s a convenient way for them to get rid of their waste responsibly. The idea of the wastewater treatment plan is to have it accessible to the pump out boat, so the boat can go over and unload whatever it picks up from the yachts here in the harbour, treat it properly and dispose of it properly.”
Controversial Bahamian Environmentalist Terry Bain lives 80 miles away in Little Farmers Cay in the Exuma Cays and has focused his concern exclusively on the Exuma Land and Sea Park. However, he has attracted concern from many wealthy native Exumians that unfounded random protests would scare off genuine foreign investors coming to boost Exuma’s economy.
Ms. Booker is a certified marine biologist and environmental educator. The project she is working on addresses wastewater solutions to the biosphere in the Elizabeth Harbour cove and she advocates proven methods of reducing the negative impact of human activity that have been contaminating the marine environment.
By Gena Gibbs
BAHAMAS INFORMATION SERVICES