NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Paradise Island is being “hogged up” by commercial and political interests, one local environmentalist has asserted as he raised concerns over the environmental impact of Royal Caribbean International’s recently approved $100 million beach club development.
Save The Bays Chairman Joe Darville said that with the government’s recent announcement of its approval for the project, Paradise Island is once again becoming ‘hog island’, “as international business eye big profits and local politicians rub their hands at the prospect of cheaply-won votes.”
“What will be the effect on that iconic coastline of the masses of garbage and human waste inevitably produced as a result of this development?” said Darville in a statement.
“What will be the effect on the once abundant reef that I knew so well in my youth, which is already struggling because of human impact? Will the developer’s plan be effective in mitigating these dangers? questioned Darville in a statement, adding that the government cannot possibly know the answer given that it went ahead and announced the approval, despite the fact that the environmental impact assessment is yet to be completed.
“Perhaps worst of all, what does it mean for our sense of identity as a nation, that this once powerful symbol of our history and traditions, our seafaring roots and deep connection with nature, will be made off limits to Bahamians, hogged up by commercial and political interests and remade into a fabricated spectacle for the amusement of hordes of cruise day-visitors?” said Darville.
He added: “Sadly that lighthouse, the lonely silhouette of which, seen against an evening sky has long epitomized the iconic harbor of Nassau Town, has now become a symbol of a cynical, shameful trend played out in recent decades across the length and breadth of this beautiful archipelago.
“I am old enough to remember when regular Bahamians in the hundreds and thousands could make a noble living off the water, could experience the freedom of the open sea and bask and relax in the beauty of our incomparable coastlines. But slowly, this freedom and this birthright has been clawed away from us, sold to the highest (and sometimes the lowest) foreign bidder by successive governments that placed their own short-term political interests, and perhaps even personal profits, ahead of what is best for the public.”
Last week, the government announced that it had granted Royal Caribbean International (RCI) approval for its $100 million beach club project on Paradise Island. Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper in a statement said the project, when completed, will offer guests beach and water sports activities, as well as Bahamian entertainment and retail experiences.
“Royal Caribbean International says that its beach club on Paradise Island is set to open in 2025.
Atlantis’ President Audrey Oswell last week expressed concerns with the government’s decision to proceed with Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) beach club project, labeling the approval as “premature.” Oswell urged the public to petition the Government to “put on the brakes” and conduct a thorough examination of the project’s impact on the country. She noted that there are still unanswered questions concerning the project’s environmental and economic impact.
In response to Oswell’s statement, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Chester Cooper said that his ministry is aware of Atlantis’s concerns and they can expect that all relevant parties involved in the entire approval process of the RCCL beach club deal will ensure that it is vetted properly. Minister Cooper also noted that final approval of the project’s development is subject to an environmental impact assessment and an environmental management plan and that the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection is aware of the questions raised by Atlantis and remains satisfied that the questions will be addressed as a part of the normal process.
Darville said that international developers and second homeowners should not be chided for seeking to introduce developments across the country as he noted, “our interests were never their responsibility.”
Still, Darville argued that Bahamians should protect their birthright which he said has been auctioned in a decades-long fire sale.
“I am not saying that tourism projects are bad; indeed they are a crucial tool of national development. But all development is not a good development, there must be a balance, and some things must absolutely be sacred. If not, what will be sold off is not just parcels of land, but our very identity as a people and most importantly, the natural heritage that we are tasked with holding in trust for the benefit of future generations,” said Darville.
He added, “If we continue along this current trend, what will the reality be like for our children and grandchildren? Will they be corralled into the sparse centers of these islands, cut off from contact with their history and living out their days in service to the wealthy individuals and international interests that reap all the benefits of our wonderous, bounteous coastal and marine resources? Or will over-development and environmental abuse kill off that very abundance itself, and leave all of us adrift in the same sinking boat, with no watchtower, no beacon, no ray of light to guide us?”
I’m totally against this sale. People sign a petition against this please.