Phillip Weech, of the BEST Commission announces during a January 16th, 2009 Bimini town meeting that the long anticipated Bimini Marine Protected Area (MPA) has been official since December of 2008.
For the most up to date information on the status of the Bimini MPA go to: https://www.facebook.com/Bimini.Marine.Protected.Area
The boundaries for the Bimini MPA (Marine Protected Area) can be viewed on the map and extend just southwest of the northern tip of the North Sound to all of the northeastern portions of Bimini. The boundary includes spots such as East Wells, Bonefish Hole, Smugglers Pass, the Healing Hole, Alec Key and Pigeon Key.
Press Conference on the Establishment of No take Marine Reserves Remarks by the Hon Theresea Moxey-Ingraham, MP Minister of Commerce Agriculture & Industry
Thursday 13th January 2000 at 10:00 am.
The New No-Take Marine Reserves
Over the past eighteen months the Department of Fisheries working in close consultation with the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), local government representatives, The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and a number of scientists, has proposed the establishment of a network of No Take Marine Reserves throughout the Bahamas. Having reviewed a large number of possible locations throughout the nation, the government has given the green light to the immediate establishment of the first five No Take Marine Reserve sites.
This is a highly significant step in a long and complex process and it is considered appropriate to bring it to the attention of the nation at this time. Many details remain to be determined with respect to exactly where the boundaries will be established, what the governing legal framework will be, and with respect to the establishment of assessment, management and monitoring plans. This bold initiative can only succeed with the full community participation and over the coming months a comprehensive consultative process will be implemented.
Based on a scientific review of the available information, the first five locations will be in the following areas:
The Bahamian Experience
- North Bimini
- Berry Islands - Frozen Cay to Whale Cay area
- South Eleuthera - Powell Point to Schooner Cays
- Exuma Cays -south of the Land and Sea Park in the Lee Stocking Island area
- Northern Abaco Cays
It should be pointed out that The Bahamas already has some experience with No Take Marine Reserves through the work of the Bahamas National Trust within the Exuma Land and Sea Park. This pioneering effort that began in 1958, allowed limited fishing within the boundaries of the Park until 1986. At that time it was determined that a complete ban on fishing was necessary. Today the Exuma Land and Sea Park provides testimony of the wisdom of that decision. Scientific research and casual observations demonstrate that the fish are larger and more abundant within the Park when compared to areas immediately outside. Another feature is that there is a more diverse species composition of the fish populations inside as compared to outside the Park.
As successful as the Exuma Land and Sea Park has been, it alone cannot do what is needed to maintain the sustainability of the marine industry. For the full benefits to be realized there must be a network of No Take Marine Reserves, large enough to adequately represent the different habitats, close enough together for there to be linkages for marine animal and plant life as they move through their life cycles. Reserves must also be numerous enough to provide some replication as insurance against a local environmental catastrophe.
Benefits of No Take Marine Reserves
There is a wide range of potential benefits from the establishment of a network of self- sustaining No Take Marine Reserves. These include:
- Support for fisheries and fisheries management
- Benefits to fish populations by the provision of larger fish
- Protection of ecosystem structure and functioning
- Enhancement of non-extractive human activities such as sightseeing and scuba diving
- Increased scientific understanding
The Bahamas is a nation blessed with vast expanses of marine environment. The beauty and biodiversity of this environment provide for us in many ways, through tourism in its many and varied forms, commercial fishing, diving, recreational fishing and boating. The marine environment is an integral part of the Bahamian way of life and is a part of our heritage that must be safeguarded.
Particular thanks are extended to Sir Nicholas Nuttall, Chairman of BREEF, for his energetic support in the pursuit of this work and for the provision of expert scientific advice through the financial resources of BREEF.
I also wish to acknowledge the critical role played by former Minister the Hon. Earl Deveaux in bringing this important work to this point. His sincere concern for the sustainable use of the marine environment has been the major force driving this effort forward.
While the establishment of these reserves may, in the early stages, result in some negative impacts on some fishermen in some locations, it is considered that the longer-term benefits will far outweigh them. I therefore look forward to the full cooperation of all the various user groups throughout The Bahamas and encourage full participation in this important process. The future benefits will only be derived with help and cooperation from each and every Bahamian.