Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Cirrus clouds scatter high above the emerald ocean, shifting graciously for the blazing sun. A cool, salty breeze pushes the tide onto the seeds of sand, taking with it the yelps of bareback children. The chorus of rippling, jewel-like water and wet feet slapping beige pavement tickles the senses on a perfect day at the beach.
Deep beneath the surface however, where the sounds of frolicking and laughter are muffled, marine life and its habitat are drowning at the hands of man—those that rake it to destruction and others that do nothing to stop it. In defense, groups of environmentalists have united to raise awareness and challenge the Bahamian government to protect endangered marine environment.
The Coalition to Save the Bays, formerly the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, has demanded that the Government step in to protect the historic Clifton Bay area and others like it from human depletion.
Human rights activist and Coalition member, Joe Darville and others, have campaigned the urgency of this threat throughout the country. Darville described to Rotarians in Grand Bahama the threats of depletion in Bakers Bay, Abaco, in Mayaguana, Exuma and Bimini by hotel developers, movie makers and others.
“The incredible and reprehensible destruction of so much of the beautiful, magnificent sea beds on that little gem of Bimini is a prime example of the rape of our heritage,” Darville told Rotarians.
As he walked along Clifton Bay beach, the threat to the environment became more evident. Where there was once sand are now exposed roots to pine trees. Oil from the nearby Bahamas Electrical Corporation plant permeates three feet below the surface, causing reefs to die progressively further from the shore. Nygard Cay has expanded from about four to six acres with sand allegedly pumped from Clifton Bay’s seabed. Boulders, which were allegedly at Simms Point, now trace the Nygard property.
“Young people have to become aware that this belongs to them. What I enjoyed as a little boy all future generations, all young people, should be able to enjoy—the beauty and magnificence of our clear waters,” Darville said.
Despite having more Facebook likes than petition signatures (although 3,500 signatures says a lot), the Coalition is planning initiatives to educate young Bahamians and recruit more signatures from that demographic.
With about 1,500 signatures needed to reach their goal of 5,000, the Coalition is hoping that this network will help push the Government to establish and enforce environmental protection laws. As a result, establish Clifton Bay as a sacred, national water park. With these enforced laws will come penalties for anyone that desecrates the area.
On May 23, the Coalition took the first step by filing an action in the Supreme Court, seeking a judicial review to stop alleged unauthorized construction and dredging at Nygard Cay, which they say have affected the marine environment in Clifton Bay and the infamous Jaws Beach.
To sign the petition and find out how you can become involved in their mission, visit savethebays.bs.