NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Rainy weather may have tainted the view of the scenic coastline, but it did not deter people from coming out and participating in the National Coastal Awareness Committee’s first Fun, Run, Walk.
The signature event on Saturday was the latest in a series of activities commemorating Coastal Awareness Month, which comes to a close Tuesday, and the tenth anniversary of the public-private coastal committee.
“I was pretty happy despite the fact that the weather was inclement. I was pleased with the number of people who showed up and the enthusiasm of the participants. It was a good start for the first of what will be an annual event,” said Earlston McPhee, chairman of the NCAC.
Many of the event prizes included free trips to Family Island resorts, courtesy of corporate sponsors. Mr McPhee said beyond the coastal walk, the committee wanted participants to explore the wider Bahamas and gain more exposure to the natural resources of the country.
“Next to the strength and creative will of our people, the environment is the second most important element for nation building. We have to protect and manage our natural resources. The first part of this is to educate people; to create awareness of the value of these resources, to create a level of appreciation of the environment for our social and economic development,” said Mr McPhee.
Edward Fritz of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force was the overall winner of the event and walked away with a round trip ticket to New York. As a sub lieutenant in the Defence Force, he said the event had special significance.
“I work on the sea, so I see the need for persons to be more aware of how we ought to protect our marine resources. I see the abuses that sometimes take place,” said Mr Fritz.
Once he had to free around 20 turtles that had been trapped in a net. On another occasion, he had to free sharks, which were trapped in a long line fishing net that was attached to a car engine submerged in the ocean.
“These are the things that happen and the average Bahamian is unaware. The average Bahamian is unaware of the beauty that is out there. So it is incumbent upon Bahamian to become more educated and informed,” said Mr Fritz.
The youngest participant in the event, Paloma Pratt, a grade eight student at Lyford Cay School, said: “Knowing that the Bahamas’ main industry is tourism, I think it’s important for young people to know that if we do not take care of our beaches there will be no tourists and it will be more harmful to all Bahamians. I think the Fun, Run, Walk was an excellent way of motivating people to get up out of bed, exercise and interact with others who share a passion for our country,” said Ms Pratt.
Adrianna Hutchinson, organiser of the event, said it is important for Bahamians to realize that “little things can make a big impact if everyone gets onboard”. She encouraged Bahamians to make small changes in their daily lives to help the environment, like using paper products instead of Styrofoam, or turning off the air-condition when it is cool outside.
The NCAC plans to make the event an annual affair. The committee plans to hold a coastal walk in Andros later this summer along with additional activities for the remainder of the year. For more information, visit The Bahamas National Coastal Awareness Committee on Facebook and click “LIKE”.
Submitted By Kelly Meister
Photo credits Derek Smith and Jared Dillet