[Coral-List] Cousteau supports Guana Cay Locals

Erik Gauger erik at notesfromtheroad.com
Thu Jul 6 14:51:41 EDT 2006

Dear Coral List Members,
Today, Jean-Michele Cousteau, only days after helping convince
the Bush Administration to protect the NWHI, is making a
statement in support of the residents of Great Guana Cay.  The
Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club, as many of you know, is a large
golf megadevelopment which is currently in construction on the
northern 2/5ths of Great Guana Cay.  Despite worldwide objections
from coral scientists, dives and analysis by Drs. Michael Risk
and James Cervino, and a very strong court case, the Bahamian
Government has ignored all pleas for a much smaller development.
While the islanders are now taking the case to the Privy Council
in England, which is a high court for commonwealth nations of the
United Kingdom, the support of Jean-Michel Cousteau is a welcome
and needed boost for the case of the island's coral reef and
mangroves.  The island is so small that they simply haven't been
able to fight against the constant public relations campaign of
the developer, which is convincing the Bahamian press, public and
government that this development is ecosensitive - a laughable
notion when coral scientists examine the EIA and EMP.
 I am keeping notes on the issue here:


Here is the letter:


The Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie 

The Office of the Prime Minister

Cecil Wallace - Whitfield Centre

Cable Beach P.O. Box N 3217

Nassau, The Bahamas



Dear Honorable Perry Gladstone Christie,


I have had the good fortune of traveling extensively and
witnessing firsthand many coral reefs around the world.  I have
seen the vital connections between the health of coral reefs and
the quality of people's lives. Coral reefs themselves are
interconnected on wide geographic scales with other marine
ecosystems through fish and bird migrations, the dispersal and
recruitment of fish and shellfish larvae, and through people as
they travel to exploit or enjoy the reef's resources.  I have
also observed how coastal development, deforestation,
agricultural runoff, pollution, overfishing, and destructive
fishing practices affect the vitality of coral reefs. And without
the protection of the neighboring coral reefs, coastal
communities become more vulnerable during hurricanes and will
also suffer.


I have received expressions of concern from some members of Ocean
Futures Society that the Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club
development on Great Guana Cay may undermine the environmental
health of the region; specifically affecting the nesting sea
turtles of Gumelemi Cay and to the north, and impacting the
neighboring reefs adjacent to the proposed golf course.  Knowing
from experience that ecological consequences of very large
developments that do not have strict environmental safe guards
can have far reaching consequences, I urge you to review the
environmental impact of this development and consider the
consequences for future generations of your citizens.  


Coral reefs are in decline world-wide and are especially stressed
in the Caribbean.  In almost 50 years of exploring and filming in
the Caribbean, I have seen firsthand the disturbing decline in
coral reef health, abundance and diversity of fish and other
species.  With scientific studies documenting the decline in
coral coverage and the alarming increase of coral diseases, many
of which are related to human development, I encourage you to
carefully evaluate the environmental consequences of developing
the 250-slip marina, 18-hole golf course, 70 additional
residential units and associated support structures, staff
housing and utility sheds.  


The coral reefs are not the only ecosystem that could be
threatened by this development.  The removal of 70 acres of
coastal mangroves and estuaries, which provide an important
nursery to many reef residents, will impact the residents of the
neighboring reefs.   Just last August I had the pleasure of
working with two Goliath Grouper scientists in the Florida Keys
for an upcoming TV special and witnessed first had the value of
these mangrove habitats.  These endangered fish spend their first
4-6 years in the protective roots of the coastal mangroves before
venturing off into deeper waters. The state of Florida has
protected this species for twelve years but without the
protection of their juvenile habitat of the mangroves there's
little hope for full recovery.  This is just one example why one
needs to take into consideration all components of the ecosystem
before any one is taken apart, removed or damaged.


We are not an anti-development organization but we do believe
that a sustainable future depends on a partnership where ecology
and economics mutually reinforce each other.  This partnership
cannot be success without the local communities input.  This
project has to be in their interest too to be success in all
elements of sustainable development.  I call your attention to
our modest resort in Fiji, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands
Resort (http://www.fijiresort.com), that last year received Conde
Nast's award for the best eco resort in the world.  Should your
team want our thoughts on responsible development and tourism we
would be happy to respond.


Please consider the impacts of this project and that whatever is
done or not done will be in the interest of future generations
and the environment that will support them.







Jean-Michel Cousteau





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