Bahamas Takes Part in Historic Marine Protected Area Conference
By Media Enterprises
Mar 16, 2016 - 1:37:45 PM
Pictured at the Rome conference (from left) are: Eric Carey, BNT executive director; Angelique xxx, Bahamas UN Mission; Dr Ellen Pikitch, lead scientists for Ocean Sanctuary Alliance; and Craig Powell, Bahamas UN Mission.
Bahamas National Trust Executive Director Eric Carey recently returned
from an important conference in Rome that addressed a “severe and
accelerating crisis" which threatens human well-being.
Organised by the Ocean Sanctuary Alliance from March 7-9, the conference
brought top marine scientists together with diplomats and policy makers
from 50 countries,particularly those from small island developing
states, to discuss concrete policy actions.
“Participants reviewed best practices for siting, developing,
implementing, governing and enforcing a global network of marine
protected areas, and considered how they can be made financially as well
as ecologically self-sustaining,” Mr Carey said.
The Ocean Sanctuary Alliance is a partnership of UN member states and
interdisciplinary scientists who seek to restore and sustain the world's
ocean by securing national commitments for science-based marine
According to the Alliance, "The condition of the ocean worldwide is in
decline, and its future at risk. This is a global problem and it will
require a global solution to bring the ocean back from the brink of
One of the main goals of the Alliance is to have countries protect at
least 10 per cent of their marine environment by the year 2020. The
short-term objective is to oversee a rigorous, multi-year programme to
effectively implement these marine sanctuaries.
In addition to Mr Carey, The Bahamas was represented at the conference
by Craig Powell and Angelique Hillebrandt from the Bahamian UN Mission.
The meeting was funded by the Italian government.
Scientists have been warning for years that due to industrial fishing
large areas of sea bed now resemble a desert and fish stocks are
collapsing worldwide, threatening the food security of many nations. The
world’s catch is going down by 2 per cent a year,
which means we could run out of fish in a few decades.
Experts say the policy of subsidising fishing fleets to catch
ever-diminishing stocks is unsustainable. The only way to restore fish
stocks is by introducing protected reserves where all fishing if banned.
And in other areas, rigid quotas must be enforced and
During the three-day meeting, marine scientists and diplomats discussed
strategies for better management of the world’s oceans. The lead
Alliance scientist is Dr Ellen Pikitich, from the Institute For Ocean
Conservation Science at New York’s Stony Brook University.
Dr Pikitch urged participants to spur action on development of a global
network of marine reserves. This overall goal was underpinned by a
scientific document highlighting the key paths to achieve effective
implementation - governance, science and sustainable
“Participants were impressed with our record in marine conservation,” Mr
Carey said,“and The Bahamas was used as a case study during the
conference. We were fortunate to have set up the world’s first land and
sea park in Exuma in 1959, and this became the
first no-take marine reserve in the wider Caribbean in 1986. This has
improved fish stocks outside of the park."
The Rome conference also heard about The Bahamas' responsible management
of its territorial waters, including the prohibition of long-line
fishing and other destructive fishery practices in the 1990s. Sharks and
turtles are also specifically protected from commercial
exploitation in Bahamian waters.
More recently, the government designated 15 marine protected areas
around the country,meaning that The Bahamas already protects more than
10 per cent of its nearshore marine environment on paper.
But Mr Carey noted there was more work to do: "The positive actions
of multiple government administrations have achieved much. Now we have
to combine the science with the experience of stakeholders to ensure
that our marine protected areas are effectively managed
for the benefit of future generations."
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