Bahamas--No Take Marine Reserves

pb_coral at pb_coral at
Fri Jan 14 20:13:40 EST 2000

I thought coral-list would be interested in this:


Thursday 13th January 2000 at 10:00 am.

The New No Take Marine Reserves

Over the past eighteen months the Department of Fisheries working in
close consultation with the Bahamas Reef Environmental Education
Foundation (BREEF), local government representatives, The Bahamas
National Trust (BNT ) and a number of scientists, has proposed the
establishment of a network of No Take Marine Reserves throughout the
Bahamas.  Having reviewed a large number of possible locations
throughout the nation, the government has given the green light to the
immediate establishment of the first five No Take Marine Reserve sites.

This is a highly significant step in a long and complex process and it
is considered appropriate to bring it to the attention of the nation at
this time.

Many details remain to be determined with respect to exactly where the
boundaries will be established, what the governing legal framework will
be, and with respect to the establishment of assessment, management and
monitoring plans.  This bold initiative can only succeed with the full
community participation and over the coming months a comprehensive
consultative process will be implemented.

Based on a scientific review of the available information, the first
five locations will be in the following areas:

1. North Bimini 2. Berry Islands =96 Frozen  Cay to Whale Cay area 3.
South Eleuthera =96 Powell Point to Schooner Cays 4. Exuma Cays -south of
the Land and Sea Park in the Lee Stocking Island area 5. Northern Abaco

The Bahamian Experience.

It should be pointed out that The Bahamas already has some experience
with No Take Marine Reserves through the work of the Bahamas National
Trust within the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  This pioneering effort that
began in 1958, allowed limited fishing within the boundaries of the park
until 1986.  At that time it was determined that a complete ban on
fishing was necessary.  Today the Exuma Land and Sea Park provide
testimony of the wisdom of that decision.  Scientific research and
casual observations demonstrate that the fish are larger and more
abundant within the Park when compared to areas immediately outside.
Another feature is that there is a more diverse species composition of
the fish populations inside as compared to outside the Park.

As successful as the Exuma Land and Sea Park have been, it alone cannot
do what is needed to maintain the sustainability of the marine industry.
For the full benefits to be realized there must be a network of No Take
Marine Reserves, large enough to adequately represent the different
habitats, close enough together for there to be linkages for marine
animal and plant life as they move through their life cycles.  Reserves
must also be numerous enough to provide some replication as insurance
against a local environmental catastrophe.

Benefits of No Take Marine Reserve

There is a wide range of potential benefits from the establishment of a
network of self- sustaining no take marine reserves.  These include: 1.
Support for fisheries and fisheries management. 2. Benefits to fish
populations by the provision of larger fish 3. Protection of ecosystem
structure and functioning 4. Enhancement of non-extractive human
activities such as sight seeing and scuba diving 5. Increased scientific

Conclusion The Bahamas is a nation blessed with vast expanses of marine
environment.  The beauty and biodiversity of this environment provide
for us in many ways, through tourism in its many and varied forms,
commercial fishing, diving, recreational fishing and boating.  The
marine environment is an integral part of the Bahamian way of life and
is a part of our heritage that must be safeguarded. Particular thanks
are extended to Sir Nicholas Nuttall, Chairman of BREEF for his
energetic support in the pursuit of this work and for the provision of
expert scientific advice through the financial resources of BREEF. I
also wish to acknowledge the critical role played by former Minister the
Hon. Earl Deveaux in bringing this important work to this point.  His
sincere concern for the sustainable use of the marine environment has
been the major force driving this effort forward.

While the establishment of these reserves may, in the early stages,
result in some negative impacts on some fishermen in some locations, it
is considered that the longer-term benefits will far outweigh them.  I
therefore look forward to the full cooperation of all the various user
groups throughout The Bahamas and encourage full participation in this
important process.  The future benefits will only be derived with help
and cooperation from each and every Bahamian.

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