[Coral-List] Coral Conservation versus Public Relations-Guana Cay Issue

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Tue Mar 14 14:22:12 EST 2006

Just my two cents worth on the Guana Cay issue.  It seems to me that we 
cannot stop world wide development.  Therefore, shouldn't we be working on 
ways to help developers to be more coral reef friendly instead of fighting 
them in courts trying to stop them?  By making them "the enemy" you can be 
sure if they win they won't care at all about the reef....and some may even 
want to destroy it so that it does not hamper future development. (It is a 
common thing, for example, for waterfront home owners in Florida to pull up 
mangrove seedlings for fear if they take root they will be protected and 
they will loose their "view")

Reefs are a win/win for developer if left unharmed, they increase the 
property value.  Therefore, we must work to find ways to help them protect 
the reefs in a way they percieve helps their asset wealth and property 

As a group, we should be helping Discovery Land Company to use innovative 
pollution controls, minimal fertilizers, undertake restoration of mangrove 
and reefs (perhaps to give the golf course a more natural feel and resort 
guests a snorkeling site) or any of the other important solutions we are 
working on to save reefs.

If we really want to protect reefs, we have to focus on efforts that work 
within economic realities.  I wish I could say we could stop the 
development, but we all know that is not possible with the growth in human 
populations that way it currently is worldwide.  Even if it is not a perfect 
solution, we must slowly push people to do a little bit better with every 


Todd Barber
Chairman Reef Ball Foundation, Inc.
3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858
reefball at reefball.com


Direct: 252-353-9094
mobile: 941-720-7549
Fax 425-963-4119

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Atlanta/Athens Office
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(Our headquarters...not where I work see above)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Erik Gauger" <erik at notesfromtheroad.com>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 12:49 PM
Subject: [Coral-List] Coral Conservation versus Public Relations

> Re: FW: Coral Reef goes to CourtTo everybody interested in the Guana Cay
> golf course development, I just wanted to give you all an update. 
> Discovery
> Land Company, a California golf development company,  is building a
> dastardly golf course and marina on Guana Cay, a small islet in the 
> Northern
> Bahamas. Currently, all development potentially dangerous to the coral 
> reef
> is still halted as a judge in the Bahamas Supreme Court deliberates over 
> the
> fate of the island, its reef and mangroves.
> I am writing because I know several of you are interested in how the
> politics of saving coral reefs can play out. This is an extremely unusual
> case, because the Prime Minister of a country and a foreign developer are
> being held accountable to the environment in a court of law. It is a case
> that more conservationists should follow, as hopefully in the end the
> precedent is that more countries will tie sustainability to the court 
> system
> when public outcry fails.   Hopefully, all of you will see this case as a
> potential precedent for saving coral reefs in your own countries and
> regions.
> However, the way news and public relations works in small island 
> communities
> is incredibly strange. In this case, Discovery Land Company wrote a press
> release to the major newspapers in the Bahamas  just yesterday . Both the
> Bahama Journal and the Nassau Guardian printed the press release as if it
> were straight news.
> Incredibly, the Bahama Journal printed this statement: "Save Guana Cay
> protesters are a conspiracy of liars feigning concern for the environment 
> to
> further their own selfish economic motives." Now, we know that hundreds of
> you back the science of the Guana Cay locals. We also know that the Sierra
> Club, Global Coral, Greenpeace, Mangrove Action Network, Global Response 
> and
> others back the position of the locals.   Are all of us liars with selfish
> motives?
> Additionally, Mike Risk, a coral reef ecologist, conducted an assessment 
> of
> Discovery Land Company's EIA and believes the developer will destroy the
> reef in a matter of years. James Cervino and field assistants did 
> additional
> testing of the corals and examined the Discovery Land Company's plan. His
> research also indicates this plan is dangerous to Guana Cay's  coral
> environment.
> Despite all this, it is incredible how the media is still able to say that
> all of us who have genuine concerns about Guana Cay are 'a conspiracy of
> liars...' The Sierra Club and other groups have repeatedly asked the
> developer to address various environmental deficiencies - they have never
> done so. Despite this, how can they get something like that published as 
> if
> it were true?
> The San Francisco Chronicle, after visiting Guana Cay, wrote to me and 
> said,
> "The developers had told me that it was only a small minority of people on
> the island who oppose the project, but I didn't find that to be true. I
> talked with a lot of people, stopping people randomly as I moved around 
> the
> island, and nearly all of them were opposed."
> Despite one of the largest newspapers in the world finding this claim to 
> be
> totally false, Discovery Land Company is able to continually tell us
> otherwise - and people believe it. In an email, Livingston Marshall,
> representing the developer, said that there were only two people in the
> world that are opposed the development.   If you visit Guana Cay, you will
> find opposition to the project to be about 98%  Despite this, Discovery 
> Land
> Company writes in their press release that it is an "extremely small 
> number
> of Guana Cay residents" who oppose the development.
> The developer's press release stated   that the people who oppose the
> development are "propagating false and erroneous information." But after
> hundreds of conversations with coral reef ecologists and conservationists, 
> I
> understand the Guana Cay locals' position to be the consensus position
> among coral reef ecologists - and that's a rare statement to make! It 
> would
> seem that the developer would have a high burden of proof to argue their 
> way
> out of all of this. But Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey and others paid by the
> developer, have made no public statements attempting to debate the
> scientific consensus. How are they able to get away with this, and still 
> get
> a press release like that published? Why is  it so difficult for genuine
> reef conservation to persevere against public relations campaigns?
> Erik Gauger
> http://www.notesfromtheroad.com/guana.htm
> current press on the subject is available here:
> http://www.notesfromtheroad.com/WestIndies/bakers_bay_press.html
> The locals website is here:
> http://www.saveguanacayreef.com/
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list 

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