Guarding Our Marine Heritage

BREEF and the RBDF celebrated the ending of an impactful six-day Marine Conservation Workshop today with its closing ceremony at the Coral Harbour Base.

Bringing principal remarks was the Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration, the Honourable Brent Symonette.  He congratulated the course participants and planners alike, emphasizing the commitment of the Government of The Bahamas to protecting its limited natural resources.  The Minister of National Security was also in attendance and he outlined the growing initiatives the Force has been assisting with, since the formation of its Environmental Conservation Office, back in October 2017.

“BREEF is pleased to partner with the RBDF to promote the conservation of the marine environment that sustains our way of life, stated BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert “Knowledge is power and we now have an interdisciplinary group of twenty-one workshop participants from law enforcement and education who are empowered to share this information that they have gained with their colleagues and students, and bring about change. Everyone has a role to play in sustaining our ocean.”

Graduates of the first BREEF/RBDF Marine Conservation Workshop and front row L-R Lieutenant Desiree Corneille, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Geanine Moss, Comptroller of Customs, Hon. Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security, Hon. Brent Symonette, Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration, Commodore Telis Bethel, Commander Defence Force, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director, BREEF, Chitralekha Deopersad, InterAmerican Development Bank.

“By facilitating this Marine Conservation Workshop,’ Said Commodore Bethel, Commander Defence Force ‘”Our primary focus is to help members of the Defence Force and fellow law enforcement officers understand our marine environment, the laws that govern it and the science behind the policies to better aid in enforcement strategies.  We are intent on building these enforcement strategies through partnerships and coordinated approaches to increase effectiveness and reduce duplication of efforts.  I am hopeful this will become an annual initiative to keep our Officers and Marines on the cutting edge with regards to environmental protection and stewardship.”

BREEF/RBDF 2018 Marine Conservation Workshop Participants with Commodore Tellis Bethel prepare for a snorkel excursion to Southwest Reef. Photo by: Eddy Raphael

The interdisciplinary course provided participants with opportunities to study island ecosystems from a hands-on, systems perspective and within a week-long residential field-study programme at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Coral Harbour Base.  Participants took part in classroom activities, guest lectures, and field studies to nearby marine protected areas including Bonefish Pond National Park and the South West Marine Managed Area.

Law enforcement personnel and educators were selected across the range of the public service – Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Department of Fisheries and Department of Customs – and secondary schools from around the country.

BREEF has been conducting marine conservation teacher training summer workshops since 1995, and met the goal of having at least one BREEF-trained teacher in every school across the expanse of The Bahamas in 2017.

BREEF/RBDF Workshop participants learn about coral reefs at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden in the Southwest New Providence Marine Managed Area

Desiree Corneille, a Lieutenant who currently serves as the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s (RBDF) Environmental Conservation Officer, attended the BREEF Teacher Training Workshop at the Gerace Research Center on San Salvador in July 2017.  She recognized the value of the workshop and began facilitation of the 2018 partnership between BREEF and the RBDF, with the approval from the Commander Defence Force, to offer the programme to personnel from around our law enforcement units and academic institutions to ensure that a robust enforcement vein is enhanced and supported with conservation knowledge and skills.

BREEF / Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholar Jason Petty shows workshop participant, Woman Marine Jasmine Antenor, a Sea Cucumber at Bonefish Pond.

The interdisciplinary course provided participants with opportunities to study island ecosystems from a hands-on, systems perspective and within a week-long residential field-study programme at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Coral Harbour Base.  Participants took part in classroom activities, guest lectures, and field studies to nearby marine protected areas including Bonefish Pond National Park and the South West Marine Managed Area.

RBDF Able Woman Marine Aniska Bonaby expressed “This workshop was truly an eye opener for me and brought greater awareness of our marine life and the challenges we face with enforcement, not only locally but internationally. I was open and excited to absorb all that I could in the workshop.”

Workshop participant, Janario Gibson from the Ministry of Agriculture & Marine Resources snorkels at Southwest Reef. Photo by: Eddy Raphael

BREEF is very thankful to the Minister of National Security for graciously hosting the event, sponsorship from the Inter-American Development Bank, MacTaggart Third Foundation, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Atlantis Blue Foundation, Nassau Paper Company and all BREEF members and donors who continue to support BREEF’s mission to promote the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment that sustains our way of life.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force expressed that this workshop aligns with the Commander of the Defence Force’s Operation Conservation thrust as well as the overall mantra of the Force, “Guarding Our Heritage”.

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