Save the Bahamas: Coalition to convene Environmental and Local Rights Conference in Freeport
The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association and Save Guana Cay Reef Association this weekend will host a “Save the Bahamas” conference in Freeport.
Both Associations have organized a meeting of delegates from throughout the Bahamas who represent Family Island communities trying to promote and save their local rights, traditions, culture, land and marina environments.
Thus far, nearly 100 people have registered to participate. These include representatives from Andros, New Providence, The Abacos, Bimini, Eleuthera, Mayaguana and Grand Bahama.
In addition, a number of dive operations, NGO’s and eco-tourist resorts have also confirmed attendance.
Also in attendance will be the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, world-renowned coral pathologists, wetlands restoration specialists, and marine biologists.
Mrs. Sarah Kirkby, Secretary of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, said that they were “very excited about this coalition”.
“This is looking like a great opportunity for the Bahamas in many ways. We have environmental experts from around the world joining forces with us and the commitment from the Family Islands has been astonishing. We can’t wait to meet the people who will attend. We all seem to be experiencing the same challenges! We have heard some horror stories about their struggles with development issues.”
Mr. Troy Albury, President of the Save Guana Cay Reef Association, said,
“The reports we have been getting from the rest of the Bahamas are shocking. Its really scary how similar they are to Guana Cay. This coalition is going to be really powerful. The people of Guana Cay have led the way to save their local rights and environments. Together we can do this for all of the Bahamas!”.
Mr. Smith, President of the Human Rights Association said
“Save the Bahamas will be a powerful NGO. With its local Bahamian network throughout the Family Islands, its huge international connections, the support it has received from the environmental community, it will be a strong and lasting national and international advocate to protect local rights and the environment.
“Since the late 1980’s, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association has promoted local rights and was instrumental in getting the FNM Government to pass the Local Government Act helping to begin the transfer of power to the people and decentralizing the colonial dictatorship structure of Bahamian governance.
The work of the Save Guana Cay Reef Association has merged local rights and environmental issues. They are inextricably intertwined.”
The object of the conference is to provide a forum for all of the diverse communities of interest to share their challenges. This will be a wake up call to politicians, in particular, Cabinet. This should be an exciting election issue for both the FNM and the PLP.
The Association will push for both political parties to publicly commit to passing an Environmental Protection Act, the creation of an Environmental Protection Agency which will have teeth and effective regulatory oversight of developments by Bahamians and foreigners throughout the Bahamas.
The Association will also push for amendments to The Local Government Act to strengthen the ability of local communities to govern their own affairs.
Mr. Smith said
“Family Island Home Rule is a must! It will come!
The Family Islands contribute hundreds of millions of tax dollars every year to the Public Treasury. They are treated like colonies and their human and physical resources are raped and pillaged by Central Government in Nassau. They are treated like bastard children.”
The Save the Bahamas Association will become the Green Peace of the Bahamas environmental landscape.
The conference will begin with a cocktail party for delegates to get to know each other on Friday.
On Saturday the conference will be chaired by Mr. Joseph Darville of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association.
There will be a presentation by each group to educate each other on their challenges and needs.
Mr. Troy Albury will give an overview of the successful war waged against the Central Government and foreign development abuse at Guana Cay and Mr. Frederick Smith will give an overview of environmental law in the Bahamas.
On Sunday Kayak Nature Tours will graciously provide visits to the Gold Rock Creek National Park in Freeport, Grand Bahama and guests will have an opportunity to see the disgraceful destruction of the environment at the Disney and Gold Rock Creek Film Studio destroying the beach, wetlands and entrance to the National Park.
Mr. Albury said
“This coalition is a water shed event for the future of the Bahamas. We are thrilled that so many passionate people have committed to become involved”.
Mr. Smith concluded his comments
“The days of wholesale development destruction and abuse of Family Islands rights is over. Both the PLP and FNM will now have to wake up and recognize our rights. It is time for a new Bahamian Development Paradigm”.
The media is invited to attend all public sessions and to report on the exciting presentations which will be made.
Submitted by Frederick R. M. Smith
The author of this article is responsible for the content of the article. Reprinted by permission
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