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Extinction Threatens Coral Reefs in The Bahamas

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The Prince Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation recently conducted a coral reef research expedition, involving nine Bahamian scientists, amid concerns that coral reefs here are threatened with extinction due to over fishing and climate change conditions.

"We don't aticipate any new legislation as a result of the research that was conducted," said Environment Minister Earl Deveaux, noting that "what we expect will happen is that it will inform and amplify our completed legislative work."

Deveaux noted that recently The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Act was amended and that the government recently passed a Planning and Subdivision Act and a Forestry Act. He said the government has a declared policy that will set aside 20 percent of the land and water of The Bahmas in permanently protected areas.

"We have exceeded that 20 percent goal already," he said. "And by virtue of what we have done in the three acts I just mentioned, we are likely to have under permanent protection, based on the regulatory environment, as much as 50 percent of The Bahamas. To put that in perspective, much of The Bahamas lies in permanent wetland ecosystems. And so, we've put those under permenent protection of the Forestry Act," he added.

REGULATIONS

Since April 2011, the nine Bahamian scientists have participated in the "Science Without Borders" expedition and studied coral reef communities in Cay Sal Bank, Inagua, Andros, and Abaco.

"Specifically though, what this scientific survey would help us do is document in the remote parts of tThe Bahamas that we could not have gotten to the conditions that exist and tell us what we need to do to mitigate, in terms of our fisheries regulations, and our accommodation of marine stweradship (and) how we maintain the health of our coral reef systems.

"This would be the first time many Bahamians would have seen Cay Sal in any way, shape or form. And certainly the first time, many Bahamians would have seen Hog-sty Reef," said Deveaux.

He said the survey will also provide information regarding the existing conditions and whether fishing activities have accelerated coral reef destruction.

"We don't think, through varying indications are that it hasn't, but there is a serious threat that global warming from near and far man made activities would have resulted in some impact on these ecosystems. And by telling us the conditions to date, it will help us measure what we need to do for tomorrow."

IMPACT

The impact of environmental protection would shield Bahamian natural resources that now harbor food security, pharmaceutical medicinal compounds, and rare precious stones for jewelery manufacturing.

Deveaux said that the BNT has requested to create the Cay Sal National Park and to propose a World Heritage Site in the peculiar Hog-sty area, off of Inagua.

"We have this atoll-like feature, which is probably the most precious coral reef system in the world because it's black coral  and we've protected it to save it from predation, because it's an extraordinary valuable resource that's used for jewelery manufacturing," said Deveaux.

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