Marine Protection Plan presented to govt.

Pictured (from left): Karen Panton, Executive Director of Bahamas Protected Areas Fund; Lakeshia Anderson, Director of Parks Bahamas National Trust (BNT); Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director of Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF); Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira; Lynn Gape, BNT Deputy Executive Director; Mrs. Patricia Minnis, Office of the Spouse; Janet Johnson, BNT President; Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. Michael Pintard; Shenique Albury-Smith, Bahamas Director at The Nature Conservancy; Opposition Leader Philip Davis; Eleanor Philips, Director at The Nature Conservancy, and Eric Carey BNT Executive Director. (Photo / Eric Rose)

Three civic organizations recently joined forces in an effort to compile a comprehensive document – the Marine Protection Plan (MPP) – which is aimed at agitating government to enact legislation to protect various marine habits around the country.

The goal is to effectively conserve at least 20 per cent of nearshore marine resources by the year 2020.

That MPP was presented to the Ministry of the Environment today for its review and subsequent approval.

The country’s marine resources have long been touted as one of its most precious assets.

In this vein – the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), The Nature Conservancy and The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) have identified 43 precious areas throughout The Bahamas which they’re asking the government to conserve by green-lighting their proposed MPP.

“The ocean is absolutely essential to everything that we do in the country; from fishing to tourism, to protecting the island from storm damage and even the precious air that we are breathing. So, it is within our best interest to protect this precious resource for generations to come,” said Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director, BREEF.

She was joined in her sentiments Tuesday by Shenique Albury-Smith of The Nature Conservancy.

The duo is a part of the team of masterminds who surveyed over 8.1 million acres of nearshore marine areas which need conservation.

Smith explained how they selected the areas which have been identified as at risk.

“What are the unique features of the area and not just the area but how it fits into a national context. Is it only important to a specific island or is it something that is important nationally,” Smith said.

“We also spoke with people within our Family Islands to see what they want to be protected.”

Over 7,000 signatures have been collected in a petition to support the MPP.

Environment minister Romauld Ferreira confirmed government’s commitment to helping the BNT, BREEF and The Nature Conservancy reach its 20 /20 goal.

“I can assure you the commitment of this government as we endeavour to give you and to enact and give the full support so that we can achieve the goal by 2020,” Ferreira said.