This dredger can pump up to 250 cubic yards of fill an hour. Concerned residents say it has been working off the north coast of Guana Cay every day since September 2015, including weekends and holidays. They fear the spoil is being used to fill in protected wetlands for the construction of high-end homes in the exclusive Baker’s Bay development.
Distraught residents are calling on the Ministry of Environment to
urgently investigate a new round of dredging off the coast of Guana Cay, Abaco,
which they fear is leading to the destruction of invaluable areas of protected
forced to watch helplessly while the fragile
offshore reef system suffered extensive damage over the last five years due to the
’s Bay development, locals now want the government to step and save
what is left of this once pristine island
before it is too late.
“Just when we thought it could get no worse, we find that the
developers dredging at the north end of the island,” said Troy Albury,
president of t
Guana Cay Reef Association (SGCRA).
“A powerful dredger has been on site since September 2014. It is
digging huge holes in the sand bank on the bay side of Baker’s Bay. When you drive by you can the see the bank scarred by huge holes
where the dredge has sucked up the sand and pumped it inland.”
noted that according to the law, permits must be
issued for every dredging event in The Bahamas. He said residents want the authorities to verify
whether or not this current work has the proper authorization.
want confirmation of where the spoil is being pumped.
The dredging is clearly not for maintainence
of keeping a channel clear for navigation,” he said. “From what we can see, it
appears that the dredging is occurring over a wide area, with the sole purpose
of filling in low-lying areas so those can be sold to build houses on.”
Albury said locals
are unable to verify this for themselves, as for years they have been denied
access to Baker’s Bay – and are even blocked from using a portion of the
publicly owned Queen’s Highway that passes through the property.
“We can’t see where the spoil from the dredging is ending up. They
are pumping it inland through 12-inch pipes and the fear is that sensitive
wetlands are once again being filled in,” he said. “We are particularly
concerned about certain areas of key ecological significance, which according
to the heads of agreement for Baker’s Bay, are not to be disturbed.”
said this anxiety has only been heightened by the developer’s continued neglect of several other obligations under the
These include commitments to build a community center, reserve the
water sports business exclusively for Bahamians, create a beach park, build a
solid waste facility for the whole island, and provide housing for police
“In addition to that, there were also promises of environmental
monitoring, and none of that ever came into play,” Albury said.
From 2004 to
2009, the SGCRA, in conjunction with fast growing social and environmental movement Save The Bays (STB), mounted a
groundbreaking legal campaign against the Baker’s Bay project, which elevated
the issue of unregulated development to the level of national attention.
STB chairman Fred
Smith said Guana Cay is a perfect example of the
destructive power of the “
Anchor Project” theory of national development,
which ruins tradition communities, often without living up to the many promises
made by the developers and the politicians who facilitate the deals.