2023 Eco-School Coordinators Workshop Photo Gallery

Venue: New Providence Community Centre, Blake Road

Theme: Advancing Climate Resilience in The Bahamas

Date: Friday, 6th October 2023

Time: 8:30 A.M.- 5:00 P.M. Under the theme Advancing Climate Resilience in The Bahamas

BREEF hosted our annual Eco-Schools workshop under the theme “Advancing Climate Resilience in The Bahamas”. Eco-School coordinators from around the country attended the 2-day event. 

Participants heard from Key Speakers in the environmental sector about advancing climate resilience in The Bahamas and explored different modules that teachers can implement into their own Eco-Schools. 

Prime Minister, Hon. Phillip Davis spoke on The Bahamas’ advancements for a greener future for the country and spoke on the immediate need for climate action in light of this year’s record temperatures.


“Whether we adopt lifestyle changes, spread awareness, or engage in advocacy, we can all make strides toward achieving a more sustainable future,” Davis said.

Teachers enjoyed learning from one another as they sought to implement more sustainable practices in their Eco-Schools.

The fun continued on Saturday October 7th, at our 30th Anniversary Public Snorkel on Clifton Heritage National Park at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden. Eco-Schools teachers and the public, had the opportunity to not only experience our “underwater classroom” but snorkeled to Ocean Atlas, the largest underwater sculpture in the world. 

Teachers and participants had an amazing time immersed in hands-on marine education. They experienced the lush biodiversity at our Sculpture Garden & Coral Nursery.

Read more

Bahamian Corals in Hot Water: Underwater Heat Wave Caused Coral Bleaching at BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden

White patches of bleached coral visible on BREEF’s world-renowned Ocean Atlas sculpture

Record-breaking temperatures this summer have impacted many ecosystems across the globe. In The Bahamas increased ocean temperatures have caused a crisis for coral reefs because corals are very vulnerable to warming water. This marine heatwave is likely to have serious repercussions for The Bahamas as a low-lying archipelago dependent on the coral reefs for numerous ecosystem services. Coral reefs are home to numerous species of marine plants and animals, they play an important role sustaining fisheries and tourism, and coral reefs provide the first line of defence breaking wave energy from storms and hurricanes. 

Divers, tour operators, and fishers throughout the Bahamian archipelago have observed large areas of white corals, noticing that the usual vibrant yellow, green and orange hues of healthy coral reefs have been replaced by bright white bleached coral. Scientists have been documenting the progression of coral bleaching around The Bahamas and around the world. 

Ocean Atlas, the world’s largest underwater sculpture and now an iconic underwater feature visited by Bahamians and visitors from around the world every year, is also feeling the impacts of the elevated water temperatures and consequent stress to corals. BREEF created the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden in the waters off Western New Providence in 2014 as a beacon of hope for the ocean –  to draw attention to the threats faced by Bahamian coral reefs, and to inspire action for coral reef conservation. Since installing Ocean Atlas and the other sculptures, they have become encrusted in live corals and are now habitat for a great diversity of species of marine life. The sculpture garden is also BREEF’s underwater classroom and it is a well-loved site where thousands of Bahamian children have had a chance to learn about marine conservation, and oftentimes take part in their first ever snorkeling experience.

Bleached staghorn coral at BREEF Underwater Sculpture Garden in July 2023

“It’s shocking to see the severe coral bleaching taking place on reefs around the Bahamian archipelago. Many people have a personal connection to Ocean Atlas. Seeing this dramatic bleaching occurring at such an iconic site resonates with people, and will hopefully inspire much-needed action.” stated BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues. These algae, known as zooxanthellae, provide corals with up to 90% of their nutrition through photosynthesis, and they are also responsible for giving the corals their colour. When coral is stressed by elevated water temperature, the algae is expelled from the coral tissue, leaving the coral colourless and starving. If the stress and subsequent bleaching persist for too long, the coral will die. If the stress is removed, for example by water temperatures dropping, there is a chance for it to regain its zooxanthellae and its colour, and recover.

There has already been evidence of some coral mortality at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden, including some of the corals that BREEF is growing in the coral nursery and some of the corals that have been outplanted to adjacent reefs. Some of the corals have bleached and died. Others, particularly those where the coral fragments were sourced from shallower sites, are still healthy. 

Coral reefs, which consist of even more biodiversity than tropical rainforests, are incredibly important ecosystems. However, they have been facing numerous threats such as pollution, invasive species, coastal development, and overfishing and climate change that is causing coral bleaching. The Bahamas is home to 35% of all coral reefs in the wider Caribbean region. Despite covering less than 1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs support over 25% of all marine life. They provide valuable benefits like contributing to the development of medicines, offering protection from storms, and generating income through tourism and fisheries.

“Global climate action is absolutely essential to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere and warming the world.  Although The Bahamas produces only a small amount of the greenhouse gases that are changing the climate, we are feeling a disproportionate amount the negative impacts of climate change- from climate-fueled hurricanes to catastrophic bleaching of our reefs.” stated BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert. “The Bahamas has an opportunity to take a lead in the shift away from fossil fuels, and encourage other countries to do the same.”

A spiny lobster/crawfish on top of bleached coral. Coral reefs sustain commercially important fisheries and bleaching coral threatens entire ecosystems and valuable species. 
     Coral propagation unit at BREEF Sculpture Garden May 2023 (L) and July 2023 (R)
Fish swim around coral bleached from heat stress in August 2023
Stressed coral can develop bright neon colouring in response to extreme heat.
Read more

BREEF BESS Scholars 2023-2024

After a rigorous application process the newly selected Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) are selected and ready for hands-on research and in-person learning through the Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars (BESS) programme. Applicants from around The Bahamas competed for coveted seats in this gap year programme offered in partnership BREEF and The Island School.

The two scholars for the 2023-2024 BESS Programme are Maya Lindeman from Windsor School and Christopher Clarke from Loganville High School in Georgia.  Fully funded by The Island School, each scholar will participate in a life-changing experiential Semester on the Island School’s Eleuthera campus and a four-month paid internship with us. While interning with us the scholars will participate in work experience with organizations including Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation,  IDEA Relief and Blue Lagoon. 

Recognizing the growing need to problem solve in a rapidly changing world, BREEF and The Island School mentor these independent students through solutions-based learning and scientific research internships. Upon completion of the programme, each scholar will be well equipped to lead The Bahamas into a more sustainable future.

Christopher Clarke is a student at Loganville high school in Georgia with a strong passion for the environment.

The environment is a captivating and intricate system that never ceases to amaze me. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the environment is its interconnectivity – everything within it is intertwined in some way. For example, plants and animals depend on each other for survival, and any modifications to a single component of the environment can trigger a chain reaction that echoes throughout the entire ecosystem.”- Christopher clarke

 

Maya Lindeman is a student at Windsor School, an active member and president of her school’s Eco Club and is an avid volunteer in her community.

“I have always harbored a deep passion and appreciation for the natural environment and the bountiful beauty it graces us with. Currently, we are facing a potential environmental collapse, therefore I have made it a priority and a personal goal to help people alter their perspective on the protection of our natural habitats. It is so often that we take nature’s plentiful resources for granted, hence I think that it is vital to have conversations around our impact on the Earth and bring awareness towards the impending climate crisis, an issue many are not aware of. Right now, I am able to look out of my window and see my beautiful Bahama land. I love these islands, and I want future generations to be able to look out of their windows 50 years from today and enjoy the same pristine waters and lush greenery that we enjoy now. I want to be a voice of change in this space.” – Maya Lindeman

Since 2008, 61 young Bahamians have benefitted from this exceptional educational experience, with most scholars going on to pursue related tertiary studies or being currently employed in the environmental field.

Special thanks to The Island School for providing the BESS scholarships and the additional partners, donors and sponsors whose support makes these unique opportunities possible.

Read more

National Ocean Protection Week Proclamation

Photo 1: BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert (R), and Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director, Rashema Ingraham (L), Receive Government Proclamation.

Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis has declared June 8 – June 14, 2023 National Ocean Protection Week in recognition of World Oceans Day and in celebration of The Bahamas 50th anniversary. 

In the Proclamation Prime Minister Davis highlighted The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), Waterkeepers Bahamas, Waterkeepers Alliance and partners who are working to protect our oceans.

The proclamation specifically mentioned BREEF’s work empowering Bahamians as environmental stewards, advocating for strong environmental policies and restoring coral reefs. 

This year BREEF is celebrating its 30th anniversary of marine conservation in The Bahamas.

Our ocean provides us everyday with countless resources and we have a responsibility to protect it. 

At BREEF, we believe that an educated public will take action to protect the ocean upon which we all depend, and we encourage everyone to be a part of the solution for a better planet.

Find the Proclamation HERE!

Read more

World Oceans Day Snorkel & Beach Cleanup

Students immerse themselves in underwater environment at BREEF’s World Oceans Month and National Ocean Protection Week Snorkel and Beach Cleanup 

Nassau, Bahamas – The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) kicked off its events for World Oceans Month 2023 with a beach cleanup and snorkel on Saunders Beach in Western New Providence. 

Photo 1: Students (L-R) Kaia Lotimore, Trinity Hanna and Tracy Laguerre snorkel with BREEF volunteer Emma Betts

World Oceans Day is June 8th and this year’s theme is Planet Ocean: “Tides are Changing” which highlights the urgency to conserve our natural marine resources for future generations. 

Photo 2: Sybil Strachan Primary student Kaia Lotimore snorkels at Saunders Beach

“The experience has been really good. I was a bit nervous at first, but when I got in I had so much fun in the water.” said Trinity Hanna from Sandilands Primary School.

Sixth-grader, Kaia Lotimore, a Sybil Strachan Primary School student, said that she had been snorkelling with BREEF before and that she loves coming out to these events to learn more about the ocean. 

“The snorkel was just amazing because when we went out there, we saw all kinds of fish inside the rocks and I kept wanting to get inside the rocks, just so I could touch one so it was really fun” she explained.
Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis has declared June 8 – June 14, 2023 National Ocean Protection Week in recognition of World Oceans Day and in celebration of The Bahamas 50th anniversary. 

In the Proclamation Prime Minister Davis highlighted The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), Waterkeepers Bahamas, Waterkeepers Alliance and partners who are working to protect our oceans.

The proclamation specifically mentioned BREEF’s work empowering Bahamians as environmental stewards, advocating for strong environmental policies and restoring coral reefs. 

Photo 3: BREEF Outreach Assistant Heather Brockbank (L) gives snorkel safety briefing.

University of The Bahamas Eco-Club students formed a beach cleanup team at the World Oceans Month event, collecting data on the types of trash accumulated and the number of items found in each category. 

Youth Climate Ambassador, former BREEF BESS Scholar, and UB Eco-Club member, Ashawnte Russell participated and spoke about the importance of community members safeguarding the ocean.

“We are more connected to the ocean than we sometimes realize. To continue to have such amazing waters, we must take responsibility for them and act as stewards with the willingness and tenacity to express and respect them.” she said. 

Photo 4: Youth Climate Ambassador Ashawnte Russell (L) and UB Environmental Club members (R), collect data from beach cleanup.

Rotaract Club of Nassau Sunset members, Keisha Missik and Charis Swann assisted with student registration. Swann said that supporting sustainable community initiatives that will help others is a part of the organization’s mission. 

“We live here on this beautiful island surrounded by the ocean and water so it’s very important that we conserve it and take care of it.” Swann explained.

Photo 5: Rotaract Club of Nassau Sunset volunteers (L-R) Keisha Missik and Charis Swann sign in kids at registration table

BREEF Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert says that World Oceans Month and National Ocean Protection Week was the perfect opportunity to welcome newcomers to the snorkeling experience, teaching them more about marine conservation. 

“This month is absolutely essential. Our country is 95% underwater so while we talk about the islands of The Bahamas, really, we are the Ocean of The Bahamas with a few islands popping up.” 

She continued, “We are not just a small island state but a large ocean state, and along with this comes a huge responsibility for protecting the ocean – for the well-being of current and future Bahamians but also for the world.” 

Photo 6: BREEF team members pose with UB Eco-Club, Rotaract and other community volunteers.

As BREEF celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2023 the organisation continues to support and encourage individuals in the community to be active in protecting the ocean that sustains our way of life.

Read more

Young reporters for the Environment National competition Winning Entry: Marine Pollution and its Effects in The Bahamas

-By Aiden Wilson-

-5-minute read-                                          

Marine pollution is a perpetual problem in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and as the years trickle on, this predicament is only getting worse. To put our feet down and quell the effects of pollution means that we will have to stop many facets. These include global warming, marine traffic, and oil spills. All of these factors are directly caused by anthropogenic impacts.

 The Bahamas is a country that is heavily dependent on its marine environments, it is imperative that we keep them as pristine as possible. If we were to completely disregard our natural resources in the sea, then that would advertently be the driving catalyst behind the deposition of the country. Thousands of people’s careers would cease to exist including fishermen, marine biologists, and anyone who uses the sea as a means of making a living. Additionally, The Bahamas’ dominant industry tourism, accounting for 51% of its GDP, would also suffer gravely if its main selling point, our reefs, and water were to be polluted.

The problem of marine pollution is caused and enhanced by humanity’s decisions, and will only get worse without proper education for all individuals.

PHOTOGRAPH BY AIDEN WILSON MY SHOT

“Photo of plastic in and around the Coral Harbour Canals shows the lack of respect people have for the environment.”

While out taking photos, there was trash strewn everywhere across the canals. It appears that these less frequented areas of Nassau have become a dumping ground for people who don’t want to take their trash to the dump. If we want to make any significant change for future generations, we need to teach future generations how to dispose of garbage. This has a major effect on fauna and flora life in The Bahamas. As shown in the picture above, this trash has accumulated on a mangrove. Mangrove forests are some of the most important and productive biomes on Earth. “These forests, at the land-sea interface, provide food, breeding grounds, and nursery sites for a variety of terrestrial and marine organisms, including many commercial species and juvenile reef fish.” (1) With plastics and other marine debris framing mangroves like this, terrestrial and marine species will be less inclined to use mangroves and possibly become trapped, decreasing fish biomass and suffocating mangroves. 

Secondly, chemical pollution is also a big factor. Personally, I think that Chemical pollution is much worse and can affect a larger area than physical pollution like trash.

PHOTOGRAPH BY TJ THOMPSON MY MOTHER

“Photo of an oil spill by the Nassau Cruise Port possibly originating from a cruise ship.” 

Chemical pollution like the oil slick in the picture above can have devastating impacts on marine life, coral reefs, and even humans. Oil can go into a fish’s organs and render it inedible, and if someone were to consume it then they would get oil poisoning. “Oil poisoning has a myriad of symptoms such as seizures, difficulty breathing, and throat swelling.” (2) Additionally, oil spills can envelop coral reef systems and other marine plants like seaweed and seagrass. This has a devastating impact on the Bahamas because an oil spill can’t just be cleaned overnight. Even though on this occasion it wasn’t a large oil spill, the effects of this specific oil spill could be felt across our island for years to come.

Finally, neglect is another large part of pollution, especially infrastructure. When infrastructure is badly damaged or scraped, the remnants of the building pose a massive threat to marine life as well, indirectly causing harm.

PHOTOGRAPH BY AIDEN WILSON MY SHOT

“Photo of the old Stuart Cove Location, plenty of marine debris was in the water.”

Marine debris that is caused by neglect is a large problem in the Bahamas. A lot of infrastructure built by or on the sea poses a threat like the other two that were mentioned above. Chemical pollution can leak into the water and physical pollution can blow or fall into the water. Eventually, this structure is going to collapse, filling the entire canal with sharp metal and rotting wood, further polluting the already polluted canal.

In conclusion, marine pollution is extremely detrimental not only to the Bahamas but to the entire world as well. However in a country where looking your absolute best is a priority, one that caters to tourists, it is imperative that we keep our island clean and pristine. From a tourist’s point of view, an oil spill is an unpleasant sight. Who wants to see that on their vacation? For a country that prides itself on the cleanliness of its waters, we as Bahamians need to step forward and acknowledge that our country is quite dirty. By facing the problem directly we can educate future generations on the dangers of pollution and protect marine environments for marine flora and fauna to flourish.

Bibliography 

  1. Carugati, L., Gatto, B., Rastelli, E., Lo Martire, M., Coral, C., Greco, S., & Danovaro, R. (2018). Impact of mangrove forests degradation on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 
  2. govesponse.restoration.noaa.gov

Read more

Reproduce, Replenish, Restock

For 34 years, The Bahamas has enforced an annual closed season for the Caribbean Spiny Lobster – commonly known as crawfish. From April 1st to July 31st, crawfish are given the chance to reproduce and replenish their population, in return allowing Bahamian fishermen to restock on tasty crawfish tails once the season opens.

Reproduce

Confiscated female crawfish bearing eggs – Bahamas Department of Marine Resources

Crawfish mate throughout the summer months. When mating, the male passes a sperm packet to the female through an opening called the genital pore. The packet attaches to the underside of the female’s carapace and hardens. Once hardened, the packet is referred to as a black ‘tar spot’.

The female then releases bright orange eggs and fertilizes them with the sperm from the ‘tar spot’. When the eggs are fertilized, the female houses them beneath her abdomen. The eggs must remain attached to the female in order to hatch. 

Female crawfish can lay eggs several times in one season. The larger the female the more eggs she can lay.  A female with a 6’ tail can produce 285,000 eggs while a female with a 9’ tail can produce 860,000 eggs every time they spawn. 

LIFE CYCLE OF SPINY LOBSTER

Replenish

Crawfish larvae are especially vulnerable within the first 6-8 months of life. During this time, they are floating as zooplankton in the open ocean and are often eaten by other tiny marine animals. This is also the time when they go through metamorphosis.

Once metamorphosis is complete, the juvenile crawfish begin to look more like adult crawfish. They then settle into nearshore areas such as mangrove creeks and seagrass beds.

Ensuring that crawfish are able to reproduce and that many of their offspring grow to maturity is very important. This is where closed seasons and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) play a crucial role. 

Closed seasons help ensure that during peak reproductive seasons, crawfish have a chance to reproduce. Effective MPAs serve as replenishment zones for crawfish by increasing the number of large adult crawfish. MPAs also improve the chances of mature crawfish finding each other to reproduce.

“Closed seasons and Marine Protected Areas assist in the efforts to preserve our marine ecosystems, ensuring fish for future generations to come.”

 – Allison Longley, Education and Outreach officer, BREEF

Restock

It is vital that crawfish get a chance to reproduce and replenish their population. They bring in millions of dollars to the economy every year and help support communities throughout the country.  A healthy population of crawfish is a good thing for The Bahamian economy.

“When we were trapping we used to do good. We caught a lot of crawfish and all of our bills got paid. A healthy population of crawfish is crucial to sustaining the crawfish industry.”

– Jacob Leroy Fox, Bahamian Fisherman for 30 years

Laws and guidelines were established to ensure that The Bahamas maintains a healthy population of crawfish. Some of the regulations pertaining to crawfish include:

  • The minimum harvestable size is 3¼” carapace length or 5½”  tail length.
  • A closed season: April 1st – July 31st
  • A permit is required for all vessels trapping crawfish
  • Crawfish traps must be wooden traps
  • The possession of ‘berried’ (egg-bearing) crawfish is prohibited.
  • The Sportsfishing (non-Bahamian or Bahamian resident) bag limit is 10 crawfish per vessel. 

See a complete list of Fisheries laws and regulations at www.laws.bahamas.gov.bs.

Responsible fishermen know and obey fishery regulations, respect closed seasons and respect the rules of Marine Protected Areas. They practice sustainable harvesting techniques and only buy and sell legal seafood.

April 1st marks the start of another closed crawfish season and we encourage everyone to adhere to the fishery regulations. By doing so, you are helping to preserve the next generation of crawfish in The Bahamas. 

Learn more by reading our crawfish guide for Bahamian schools.

For more information on fisheries regulations please visit www.breef.org and download the FishRules app for free on your android or iPhone today!


Read more

Students Expose Marine Pollution during BREEF’s Photojournalism Workshop

Nassau, Bahamas – The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) recently hosted a one-day workshop under the theme, “Exposing Marine Pollution”.

Photo 1: YRE student takes photo of discarded crawfish head during workshop.

Thirty students from senior high schools in New Providence gathered at Delaporte Beach on West Bay Street where they participated in hands-on activities and learned more about marine conservation.

The Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) event inspired students to gain knowledge through discussions with environmental and media professionals, who gave presentations on how to tell a story using photos, video, and writing.

Environmental Scientist Dr. Ancilleno Davis, Photographer Dominic Duncombe, Journalist Crystal Darling, and Videographer Ryan Farquharson fully engaged students throughout the day with presentations aimed at strengthening and developing their marine environmental reporting skills.

Photo 2: YRE Student Tomia Hamilton documents marine plastic pollution at Photojournalism Workshop 

CR Walker student, Santino Miller shared that he was inspired by the event, explaining that his heart is set on working in the field as a geologist someday.

“We learned that there are many different things that you can do in order to help with marine conservation; simply by not littering you can help a lot and I will explain this to my peers when I go to school,” he said.

Photo 3: Students of C.R. Walker Senior High School participated in a beach cleanup during the workshop.

“We learned the different ways to properly frame and take a photo,” another student, Iyah-Eden Rolle said. She continued, “We also did a beach cleanup which made me realize how much trash in our environment that we have to make an effort to properly clean.”

Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources Public Relations official Kandea Smith made a closing presentation outlining the importance of storytelling with students.

“At the ministry it is my departments’ job to tell a story of what the ministry is doing to improve the community” She continued.

“So BREEF was a perfect partner, giving us the opportunity to talk to the kids today about conservation, especially coral conservation; it’s a big part of what we do, we tell stories almost every day,” Smith expressed.

Environmental education is essential, according to BREEF Executive Director Casuarina McKinney-Lambert who noted that as an archipelagic nation, The Bahamas is greatly affected by what happens in its waters.

Photo 4: Group photo of the participants at the Young Reporters for the Environment workshop

“The Young Reporters for the Environment programme challenges young people to look at the ocean and the land around them, identify challenges and also think about solutions and think about effective ways of communicating about what’s going on in the ocean around us,” she said.

BREEF is the National Operator for the Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) programme in The Bahamas. The global programme aims to empower students aged 11-25 to take a stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and give them a platform to call attention to these issues through the media of writing, photography, or video. There are more than 350,000 young reporters in 45 countries across the world. 

The YRE workshop was made possible through the support of the Rolex Perpetual Planet initiative, Lombard Odier & Cie (Bahamas) Ltd. and the Sean Connery Foundation.

BREEF “Exposing Marine Pollution” Workshop

Read more

Overfishing and Species Endangerment in The Bahamas

Letter to the Editor

BESS Scholars 2022-2023

Asia Butler BESS Scholar 2022-2023

Hello! My name is Asia Butler, a 17 year old graduate from Harbour Island All Age School, Harbour Island, Eleuthera and one of the BREEF Bahamas Environmental Steward scholars for 2022-2023.

Overfishing and the illegal catch of juvenile fish has been an ongoing issue for the past decade, and has forced the Bahamian government to put a much needed closed season on certain culturally vital marine species such as the Nassau Grouper and Spiny lobster (Crawfish). Unfortunately, even after this law was passed, quite a number of fishermen continue to disregard fisheries regulations and continue to fish during these closed seasons. As a result the populations of these species are rapidly declining. 

Sadly even our Queen Conch is suffering the same fate. Many fishermen still harvest juvenile conchs for sale, simply because it is difficult to find any legal conchs due to the decline in population as a result of juvenile overfishing. Many Bahamian fishermen still harvest conch based on the size of the shell rather than the correct methodology, which measures lip thickness to indicate sexual maturity. Subsequently, with this rapid population decline fishermen can only find very few juvenile conches. Ultimately the reality is that fishermen would prefer to harvest the juvenile conchs to avoid a waste of their time and resources.

Moving forward, if Fisheries Regulations were properly followed and enforced, I believe that the population of The Queen Conch, The Nassau Grouper, and Spiny Lobster (Crawfish) would start to be replenished and fishermen would see an increase in their catch as long as they are harvested sustainably. Coupled with the expansion of protected areas where these species frequently breed, these populations of key species may have a chance of survival. In this way, they would have ample opportunity to reproduce and rebuild a steady population to sustain not only themselves, but a future for the culture and heritage of The Bahamas.

Read more

Destruction of Wetlands in The Bahamas

Letter to the Editor

BESS Scholars 2022-2023

Gayle Burrows BESS Scholar

My name is Gayle Burrows, an 18 year old Environmental activist and one of the 2022-2023 BREEF Bahamas Environmental Steward scholars. This program assists young Bahamians in learning about how to conserve the marine and coastal environment around them. Living in The Bahamas for most of my life, I have gotten to experience the changes and the new infrastructure that has been implemented every few years or so. Although industrialization is key to the tourism industry that our country thrives off of, it is extremely detrimental to our mangroves and to our wetland ecosystems.

Due to this there is a direct correlation to where mangrove wetlands used to be flourishing and where communities and institutions now stand that experience increased flooding events due to reduced coastline protection. There then is the never ending complaint of “why is there so much flooding in this area?”. After many researchers studied, they all concluded the removal of these wetlands also hinders the natural protection that wetlands offer from natural disasters, such as hurricanes, with which The Bahamas is very familiar.

Additionally, when wetlands such as these are removed to make way for construction fish populations our economy and subsistence fishermen rely on decline significantly. Many juvenile fish species, such as snappers, bonefish, barracudas, etc., rely on mangroves in their early stages of life. 

So when will enough be enough? When will the government realize that wetlands are needed not only to protect Bahamians but to protect our land, our home? Nothing will change if people are not bold enough to speak up and address these problems. I encourage young people and persons of all ages to speak out and continue to educate themselves about our environment in an effort to build a better Bahamas for all of us. 

Read more

APPLY HERE