Grand Bahama-based blue tech accelerator launches climate change initiative while advancing new economy

Grand Bahama-based blue tech accelerator launches climate change initiative while advancing new economy

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Blue Action Lab (BAL), based in Grand Bahama, has unveiled Conservation Cove, a pioneering initiative aimed at addressing the pressing challenges of climate change for low-lying coastal nations like The Bahamas while developing a new economy to empower Bahamians.

Conservation Cove is set to operate as a hub for biodiversity restoration, initially focusing on bolstering the local blue economy by safeguarding and rejuvenating vital marine and coastal resources such as mangrove forests, coral reef systems, and the conch fishery. The goal is to bridge local and international conservation endeavors with entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists, and community organizations to devise solutions that offer immediate benefits to The Bahamas and hold global relevance.

“In the first instance, Conservation Cove is supporting conch and coral aquaculture and a mangrove nursery to repair the bleached reefs, declining conch fishery, and Dorian-destroyed mangroves,” said BAL Founder and President Rupert Hayward. “The long-term objective is to develop widely applicable solutions for vulnerable coastal nations while ensuring that Bahamians are equipped to capitalize on this promising new sector of our economy.”

Hayward emphasized: “At Blue Action, we believe that unless we empower Bahamians to seize emerging opportunities in the thriving blue economy, our efforts will fall short.”

Conservation Cove, located on Grand Bahama, has already forged partnerships with local conservation initiatives such as Coral Vita and Mangrove Mania. Coral Vita, a founding partner, employs advanced technology to revive dying reefs affected by ocean warming, while Mangrove Mania engages in community outreach to restore mangrove forests ravaged by Hurricane Dorian. The newest addition, the Grand Bahama Queen Conch Mariculture Center, is a collaborative venture with Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, East Grand Bahama Fishing and Farming Cooperative Society, and Bahamas National Trust, aimed at ensuring the sustainability of this crucial species and providing educational and training opportunities for Bahamians.

“I’m truly excited about the opportunities presented by Conservation Cove,” said Dr. Mattias Johansson from the University of The Bahamas. “It will allow marine science students to apply their classroom knowledge to real-world challenges, fostering partnerships with potential employers in the blue economy.”

Gator Halpern, Co-Founder and President of Coral Vita, stated: “Coral Vita is honored to be part of Conservation Cove, where innovative eco-solutions are developed to boost the local Blue Economy, create jobs, and offer educational experiences for Bahamians and visitors alike.”

Rashema Ingraham, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, added: “Conservation Cove is a game-changer, providing a collaborative space to jumpstart sustainability efforts while creating a new economic sector for Bahamians.”

Ellsworth Weir, Director of Parks at The Bahamas National Trust, emphasized the significance of Conservation Cove in enhancing the blue and green economy while fostering biodiversity restoration and climate solutions.

Hayward concluded: “Conservation Cove isn’t just a base of operations; it’s our home. It’s imperative to fortify local communities now for a sustainable future. We believe Conservation Cove will be instrumental in these endeavors.”

Megan Davis, from Florida Atlantic University, highlighted Grand Bahama’s potential to become a leader in aquaculture and ecotourism while nurturing local entrepreneurship and community development.

The 25-acre Conservation Cove aims to evolve into a tropical aquaculture park, an aquarium, a research and education hub, co-working spaces, and a hospitality center, as envisioned through collaborations with Florida Atlantic University’s MetroLAB Design Collaborative and Blue Action Lab.