Bahamas Creating 15 New Marine Parks As Part of Major Expansion

Above: Snake Cay, East Abaco Creeks National Park. Photo by Nancy Albury

Major expansion of protected areas

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The Bahamas is launching a major expansion of its marine protected areas.

As part of its commitment under the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, the country has announced the creation of 15 new marine parks and three park expansions, for a total of 4.5 million hectares.

The parks contain habitat for endangered rock iguanas, nurseries for Nassau grouper, queen conch and spiny lobster, along with nesting and breeding grounds for more than 82 percent of seabird species that breed in the Bahamas.

“We recognized that biodiversity is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter and a clean and healthy environment in which to live,” said Bahamas Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett. “Protected areas constitute an important stock of natural, cultural and social capital, yielding flows of economically valuable goods and services that benefit society, secure livelihoods, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”

The Nature Conservancy has helped to implement the expansion of the marine protected area system, in partnership with organizations including the Bahamas Environment Science & Technology Commission, the Bahamas National Trust and the Bahamas Department of Marine Resources, supported by funding from the United Nations Environment Programme, the Global Environmental Facility, the Waitt Foundation and the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation.

“The declaration of these new protected areas marks a tremendous moment for conservation in The Bahamas”, said Shenique Albury-Smith, The Nature Conservancy’s Senior Policy Advisor for The Bahamas. “Not only are these areas important for the country’s iconic wildlife, but they will benefit Bahamian livelihoods as well. These declarations represent a tangible demonstration of the government commitment to protecting our marine resources.”

Snake Cay, East Abaco Creeks National Park