Fred Smith QC: The “Foreigner” can no longer be the Scapegoat!
By Fred Smith QC
Jul 21, 2017 - 7:17:37 PM
Stop The Blame Game.
The “Foreigner” Can No Longer Be The Scapegoat!
Protecting Our Marine, Fisheries, Coral Reef and Mangrove Resources
July 21, 2017
There has been a lot of agitation and blame about “Foreigners” raping our Marine and Fisheries Resources. In my view, this debate and blame game is misconceived and futile. Simply blaming the "Foreigner" and focusing on "Foreign" depletion and exploitation BUT continuing to allow the same unregulated exploitation and depletion ONLY by Bahamians, is not the answer. It is a recipe for environmental disaster.
In my view, the challenges faced in the Bahamas, by the rape, pillage, ruin and unsustainable depletion of our Marine and Fisheries Resources, and the unrelenting destruction of our Mangroves and Corals Reefs, requires rational, deliberate and careful attention.
It can perhaps be most effectively addressed by the new FNM government adopting a more enlightened and effective approach by meaningful consultation with those most knowledgeable and experienced in the field (particularly from the Family Islands) to review existing and enacting modern laws. And then investing in continuing education, regulatory resources, oversight, supervision and enforcement. This will have the added benefit, as always in a Green Economy, of creating hundreds of new jobs in the private and public sector in education, management and regulation.
If non-citizens have status, and in conjunction with Bahamians obtain necessary permits and engage in sustainable marine resource husbandry, they cannot be made scapegoats! If Foreigners and Bahamians engage in illegal activities, then both should be prosecuted.
The “Blame The Foreigner” game does not cut it anymore. We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that the answer and restrict and prevent exploitation by Americans, Chinese, Dominicans, Cubans or other Foreigners. Indeed, in properly and respectfully husbanding our marine environment, they may helpfully partner and share their resources and skills with Bahamians. We must not “Fear the Foreigner”. If we build on a foundation of self-respect of our own environment, and we have our house in order, we can securely invite them in as respectful guests.
The Bahamas must develop an environmentally and economically sustainable Marine and Fisheries Industry.
The real issue is to ensure that the bounty that we are blessed with in our Marine and Fisheries Resources is not exploited to extinction by ANYBODY, Bahamian or Foreign.
It's easy, thoughtless and often politically expedient, to pillory, attack and blame the Foreigner; to make the Foreigner the scapegoat or the evil ogre; to blame Bahamian women and marriages of convenience; or persons who have never fished investing in the fishing industry.
The reality is, that they are merely a symptom of the Dis-Ease we face generally in the Bahamas of not passing sensible laws, after sensible consultation with those most knowledgeable and most affected, and then not properly and effectively enforcing them as against Bahamian and Foreigner alike.
Just passing laws in Parliament doesn't convert the objective of the laws into reality if there isn’t practical and effective enforcement. The visionary Planning And Subdivision Act is a perfect example of Parliamentary legislative futility.
So I believe that investing in effective supervision, control and management of our Marine Resources, in so far as ANYBODY is concerned, will help to ensure that we have an environmentally and economically sustainable Fisheries Industry in the future.
It is not possible, and it is not realistic to expect, the FNM Government to just simply wave a magic wand and to fix decades of neglect and abuse.
It will take responsible Citizenry involvement, time and dedication, and an open and willing ear by the FNM Government, to help to properly develop an environmentally and economically sustainable Marine and Fisheries Industry and to protect our Mangroves and Corals Reefs.
The issue faced by our Marine and Fisheries Industry, is similar to that which we face with Anchor Projects, birthed in the bosom of PLP corruption by Secret Heads Agreements. These white elephant Anchor Projects have spread like an economic AIDS virus throughout the Bahamas, infecting our body politic. They have resulted in Colonial Planation Slavery style developments in the Family Islands where the foreigner exploits our land and coastal resources as in Bimini Bay and Bakers Bay in Guana Cay. They result in disrespect for local rights. They result in environmental, cultural and economic degradation and devaluation.
However, let me be clear, once again. I am not anti-foreign nor anti-development. It's not the Foreigner that is to blame.
The blame must be put squarely at the feet of our past Bahamian Cabinet Ministers and politicians who have allowed, encouraged and often corruptly profited from Foreign Developers and Unregulated Developments. The PLP have encouraged “Invaders Not Investors”!
Until we, the Citizens of the Bahamas, take ownership and responsibility for our own future, learn to respect our own environment, our own culture, our own economy, our own patrimony, we cannot blame "Foreigners" when they come in and are actively encouraged by Bahamian politicians to rape and pillage the limited resources of our Home-Land; our Sweet Bahama land.
The Foreigner is not to blame; it is the corrupt and visionless politician and our Citizenry that sits back and allows them to do that!
Now, "It's The People's Time", and as citizens of the Bahamas we must take responsibility for our Home-Land. We must vision the future that we want and in collaboration with the FNM Government manifest it into reality.
Simply blaming the Foreigner, demanding that more unenforced laws are passed, then blaming and being impatient with the government is not going to help.
This FNM Government was swept into power by an incoming Red Tide of frustration and exasperation at a PLP Government that was deaf to the loud demands of its Citizenry. I am confident that this FNM Government will react positively to The Peoples’ Voices, otherwise, the same tide will take them out; albeit the colour may be different; perhaps Green, but pray God, never Gold again!
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