“This trip to Eleuthera ties in with a recent trip to Bimini where the BNT met with Richard Branson (top left), founder of Virgin Group, José Maria Figueres, former President of Costa Rica, and Pew who announced their efforts to conserve and protect sharks in the Caribbean,” said Carey. “The impact that the Trust is having is inspiring, and we hope to see more and more shark sanctuaries in the future.” (BNT Photos)
Eleuthera, Bahamas – The
Bahamas National Trust (BNT) was one of the first groups to advocate for the
protection of sharks in The Bahamas and Caribbean. The BNT was invited by the
Pew Environment group in 2010 to partner with them to protect sharks in The
Bahamas from commercial exploitation.
first came to the BNT, they had successfully created shark sanctuaries In the
Maldives and Palau. The BNT already had
a history for protecting sharks, as the BNT along with other NGO’s had lobbied
against long line fishing in 1994, which resulted in the prohibition of this
fishing practice in The Bahamas.
Bahamas Campaign which featured visits by celebrity shark advocates Guy Harvey,
marine artist and cartoonist, Jim Toomey as well as television PSA’s and visits
to schools and communities resulted in the government of the Bahamas signing a
law to ban commercial shark fishing on July 5, 2011. This new fisheries regulation made The
Bahamas the first shark sanctuary in the region.
BNT Executive Director Eric Carey, was invited by
His Excellency Ellistion Rahming, Bahamas Ambassdor to the UN, to a shark
workshop held recently at the Cape Eleuthera Institute along with Montel
Williams, American television personality and shark enthusiast and a delegation
of United Nations (UN) Ambassadors. The BNT was
recognised for their proactive work in protecting sharks in the Bahamas and by
extension, the Caribbean.
“For the past 20 years, the BNT has
been a leader in shark conservation,” said BNT Executive Director, Carey. “Starting with the war on long-line fishing
and succeeding in having a petition signed to encourage the government to
protect these amazing creatures.”
“We have saved the sharks as well as
protected a $70 million dollar business for our countrymen. It was a great feeling
to be recognized for these efforts and to share the success of our shark
conservation programmes with the UN Ambassadors.”
UN Ambassadors from ten countries
descended on Eleuthera to learn about The Bahamas’ shark sanctuary, which was
officially established four years ago, and to get lessons from leading research
scientists on new discoveries when it comes to sharks.
The BNT is incredibly proud that
other countries want to follow The Bahamas’ lead, as it’s important that other
Caribbean countries protect their sharks and create their own shark
sanctuaries. The United Nations Shark
Sanctuary Coalition learned about the behaviour and life cycle patterns of
deep-ocean sharks, bull sharks, reef sharks, and stingrays and the effects of
long-line fishing and how the shark conservation research at Cape Eleuthera
Institute will affect policy making.
The UN Ambassadors representing
Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia,
Suriname and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, all have accepted the charge to
help protect sharks in their oceans after their visit.
“This trip to Eleuthera ties in with
a recent trip to Bimini where the BNT
met with Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, José Maria Figueres, former
President of Costa Rica, and Pew who announced their efforts to conserve and
protect sharks in the Caribbean,” said Carey.
“The impact that the Trust is having is inspiring, and we hope to see
more and more shark sanctuaries in the future.”
The Bahamas National Trust was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959
to build and manage the national park system of the Bahamas. Possibly the only
non-governmental organization in the world charged with such a responsibility
the TRUST, as it is commonly known works daily to conserve and protect the
natural resources of The Bahamas, through stewardship and education for present
and future generations. There are currently 27 National Parks managed by the
TRUST with more than 2 million acres of marine and terrestrial areas protected.