Marine-protected areas up for public debate

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources said Thursday that it is seeking public feedback for proposed marine-protected area sites in an effort to conserve the country’s marine heritage.

For the past two years, the team at Bahamas Protected has been conducting a scientific process to layout areas throughout The Bahamas that should be considered for protection.

“We are now at the stage where we are consulting the public to get their feedback and thoughts on what areas they think need to be protected,” said Shenique Smith, Bahamas director for Nature Conservancy.

Erick Carey, the executive director of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) also said, “We are really looking forward to the public, especially fishermen responding.”

“I have had some very interesting discussions with fishermen. Some agree with what we are doing, some don’t understand what we are doing and a lot are asking for more information.

“This is your chance to get that information, see what we are proposing and give us very important feedback.”

Carey said the goal of this initiative is to not only increase the percentage of marine protected areas from 10 to 20 per cent in The Bahamas, but to also combat overfishing in Bahamian waters.

“The reason why we are doing it now is that there is a need for us to develop sustainability,” said Phillip Weech, director of the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission.

“In order for us to do that, we have to balance the pressures between the needs of today and the needs of the future and in that regard, marine protected areas are very important.”

Edison Deleveaux, director of marine resources said, “This initiative is something that we have signed onto, it is vital for the continued sustainability of all of our important stocks and even those that aren’t targeted now, but may be targeted in the future.”

Persons interested in participating in the initiative can visit the Bahamas Protected page on Facebook or email the organization at Bahamasprotected242@gmail.com.

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This article was written by TAJARO HUDSON, Eyewitness News intern.