Bahamas Expand Marine Protected Areas by more than 3 Million Hectares Wed, Oct 21, 2015

More than 10% of the Bahamas' marine and coastal ecosystems will be protected

Photo by Brian Kakuk

The Minister of the Environment and Housing of The Bahamas, Hon. Kenred Dorset announced the creation of 24 new marine protected areas and the expansion of 3 existing national parks, thus adding around 3 million hectares (7.5 million acres) to The Bahamas marine protected areas and reserves system.

In 2008, The Bahamas announced its commitment to Programme of Work on Protected Areas (POWPA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and launched the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI). The ten Caribbean States that have signed up to CCI have agreed to a goal of protecting 20 per cent of their coastal and marine ecosystems by 2020.

The new protected areas, which include the new San Salvador National Parks announced in April this year, have undergone scientific assessment and extensive community outreach. Their selection was prioritized to conserve and protect habitat for Grouper and Bonefish spawning aggregations, coral reefs, sea grass meadows, mangrove nurseries, important bird areas and consider both contribution and potential for resilience.

Since 2009, the Government of The Bahamas, supported by funding from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) has been implementing a large project to expand the country's marine protected area system to 2.5 million hectares. With these latest additions that goal has now been exceeded, bringing more than 10 per cent of The Bahamas' marine and coastal ecosystems under protection.

The newly declared areas have been mapped and defined, and their legal gazetting is expected to be completed before the end of 2015. The Bahamian Government will work and consult with partners, stakeholders and local communities to develop management plans associated with these areas.

The Bahamas has also succeeded in establishing a legal trust fund dedicated to financing protected areas management. Initial capitalization of The Bahamas Protected Areas Fund is US$ 2 million contributed by the Government of The Bahamas, complemented by an additional US$ 500,000 from the GEF.

The new additions to The Bahamas protected areas system are:

In Abaco:

The Marls of Abaco National Park

East Abaco Creeks National Park

Cross Harbour National Park

South Abaco Blue Holes National Park

East Abaco Creeks - The Bight

East Abaco Creek - Snake Cays

East Abaco Creek - Cherokee

South Abaco Blue Holes National Park

In Crooked Island / Acklins:

Southeast Bahamas Marine Managed Area

Bight of Acklins National Park

In Andros:

Andros Green Cay National Park

The Joulter Cays National Park

The Cay Sal Marine Managed Area

In Grand Bahama:

The North Shore - The Gap National Park

East Grand Bahamas National Park

Hogsty Reef Protected Area

Lucayan National Park Expansion

Peterson Cay National Park expansion (further consultations are being held with the key Grand Bahama Stakeholders)

(All Grand Bahama Parks exclude Grand Bahama Development Company holdings)

In Mayaguana:

Booby Cay National Park

In New Providence:

Southwest New Providence Marine Managed Area

Perpall Tract National Park

In Great Exuma:

Moriah Harbour Cay National Park expansion

Previously declared, in San Salvador

Great Lake

Graham's Harbour

Greens Bay National Park

West Coast Dive Site

Pigeon Cay and Snow Bay

For more information contact:

Kristin McLaughlin, GEF Liaison Officer & Task Manager, UNEP, +1 202-974-1312, skype: kristin.mclaughlin, kristin.mclaughlin@unep.org

 
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