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BAHAMAS: Remarks – LJM Maritime Institute Inaugural Graduation Ceremony



#Nassau, October 22, 2018 – Bahamas


The Hon. Darren Henfield,

Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of

Dr. the Most Hon. Hubert Minnis

Prime Minister

LJM Maritime Institute Graduation

18 October 2018




Good Evening.

The Prime Minister regrets that he is unable to attend this evening.  But he asked that I offer his personal greetings and congratulations.

It is my happy privilege to offer these remarks on his behalf, and on behalf of the Government.

Let me begin by congratulating the graduates, who began their studies in 2014, and who are pioneers here at the Institute.

I acknowledge the parents, guardians, benefactors, teachers, trainers and staff at the Institute, who made today possible.


You have demonstrated a commitment to “teamwork, discipline and [the] dignity of fellow-comrades.”

You figuratively and literally have a world of opportunity before you.

Because of your training and experience you are world-class.

In addition to the graduates, I also acknowledge “the successful completion of the first year pre-sea programme of the Cadets from the Cohort 2017.”

You have an exciting journey ahead as you are on your way “to be deployed on merchant ships of international shipping companies.”

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I once again thank Lowell Mortimer for his vision and for his stellar commitment to maritime education, philanthropy and community service.

Lowell is a man of enormous generosity, who has made a tremendous personal commitment, both financial and time-wise, to the Institute.

He is also a man of excellence and enterprise.

Lowell is a Bahamian patriot par excellence, whose love of country is an example to us all.

I also thank Dr. Brenda Cleare, your President, for her enormous dedication.

Dr. Cleare truly loves the students at the Institute.  She is passionate about the mission of the Institute and the success of every student.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Prime Minister recently spoke at a forum in New York hosted by the Bahamas Maritime Authority.

Allow me to share some of his remarks from that forum.

He noted that the Bahamas Ship Registry comprises over 1570 ships totaling over 64 million gross tonnage.

This places The Bahamas within the top 10 of the world’s largest flag states.

This is a major achievement for The Bahamas, with ships flying the Bahamas flag in every corner of the globe.

It also represents the confidence and trust of ship owners and managers in The Bahamas in the regulation of their fleet, which is critical to the global economy.

The Bahamas footprint extends to all shipping sectors.

We are also known for our world-class passenger ship fleet of over 140 cruise ships.  This ship type represents nine percent of ship numbers on the Registry.

The largest percentage of ship types on the Registry are in fact tankers – over 27 percent – followed by general cargo, bulk carriers and offshore vessels which each account for over 15 percent of the ship type on the Registry.

The common thread with these ships and their owners/managers is that they share the BMA’s commitment to maintaining the highest level of safety, security and environmental standards.

The Government will continue to promote the maritime sector and ensure that The Bahamas remains competitive in this ever growing market.

The Bahamas is committed to expanding our service offering to customers.

We are expanding our base in Asia, with the opening of a dedicated BMA office in Tokyo, Japan, which is one of the largest ship-owning countries.

This expansion consolidates and strengthens our presence in The Bahamas, in the Americas, London, Athens and Hong Kong.

“The Bahamas continues to recognise the fundamental importance and critical role of the maritime sector to the long-term sustainability of The Bahamas.

“The Government has decided to invest in the future of this country by projecting three key areas of growth.  Maritime is one of them.  The industry is projected to grow by to approximately 32% until 2050.

“This growth is expected in the cruise industry, containerized movement of cargo, and [the] movement of dry bulk commodities and finished goods.

“Our close proximity to the major cruise routes and strategic location along the major shipping routes will play a major role in enhancing the growth of maritime industry in the country.”

As has been noted before: The maritime fleet flying the Bahamian flag today is close to about 1600 ships operating worldwide.

Imagine if we could place Bahamians on these vessels throughout the world.  This would mean professional opportunities for thousands of Bahamians in the years ahead.

Dear Graduates

With your training and new global awareness, may I invite you to become advocates, at home and abroad, for the preservation of the oceans and on making others aware of the grave threat of climate change to the world and to The Bahamas.

As you are certainly aware, a grave threat to the oceans of the world is plastic waste, which one Commonwealth leader described as, “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”.

Due to our geographic location, The Bahamas archipelago is besieged by marine debris from the United States of America and from the high volume of international marine vessels that pass through our waters. This pollution affects tourism, fisheries and the health of our population.

To reduce plastic waste, the Government of The Bahamas has made a commitment to banning single-use plastics and Styrofoam by 2020.This ban will include: plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic food utensils.

Another grave threat is climate change.

We see this in rising sea levels, the loss of coral reefs, the increased volume of acid in our oceans, and more severe hurricanes and typhoons.

We must dedicate more energy and resources in building resilience and sustainability as we address climate change.

While the delivery of humanitarian aid is essential, it is better to focus on prevention, and the strengthening of capacity building.

By example, such an approach should focus on the preservation and sustainable use of the world’s seas and oceans.

The resources of the oceans of the world must be protected and wisely used to ensure their viability for generations to come, and to ensure the shared benefit, enjoyment and the continued survival of all.

Without healthy oceans, The Bahamas, like many other countries may not be able to sustain our way of life and to develop.

Tourism is the world’s largest industry.  It is also the lifeblood of our economy.  Millions of tourists travel to The Bahamas annually because of our waters.

While many cities in the Caribbean and the world are coastal, the entire Bahamas is a coastal zone.

In terms of the number of islands, islets, reefs, coral reefs and cays, The Bahamas is one of the larger archipelagos in the world.

The ocean is not just a way of life for us.  It is life itself.

This includes: food production and pharmaceutical extracts, tourism, the marine and maritime sectors, sport and recreation and much more.

So essential is the ocean to our survival, The Bahamas worked diligently on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, with one of our former diplomats, the late Mr. George Stewart, becoming a global expert on the Convention.

The Bahamas remains committed to being a vigilant steward for the preservation and protection of the environment.


As you begin the next phase in your life journey, I invite you to be men and women of excellence.  May you also be stewards of the environment.

Thank you and good evening.


Remarks delivered by Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Darren Henfield, on behalf of the Prime Minister.




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Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer



Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas.  It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!


November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?

While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.

Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.

Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:

5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump  – Know what to look for and catch it early

  1. A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
  2. Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
  3. Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
  4. Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
  5. Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.

“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”


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Signs of Recovery in East Grand Bahama Habitats Scarred by Hurricane Dorian



#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – In the pinelands and mangroves that make East Grand Bahama so distinctly unique, nature is replenishing itself from the massive destruction of Hurricane Dorian. The restoration slowly taking shape is evidence that the death and devastation that the massive storm left behind is giving way to new life, according to biodiversity experts and scientists who recently conducted field assessments.

The biodiversity consultants with the Implementing Land, Water and Ecosystems Management (IWEco) in The Bahamas project have concluded a new phase of field surveys in East Grand Bahama. The team assessed pinelands and wetlands, collecting detailed information on the habitats and the life forms they support for a biodiversity inventory that will be published as part of the project.

“We have yet to see a standing pine tree that remains alive. In different types of pine habitats, however, you’re seeing different rates of recovery, with seedlings beginning to be established and these seedlings are typically anywhere from eight to 12 inches tall, and some we’ve seen are two to three feet tall,” Mark Daniels, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. said.

The biodiversity team spent more than a week conducting point counts, walking transects and vegetation plots to better understand the recovery process of pine and wetland areas in East Grand Bahama since Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

“The external fringes of those mangrove systems remain dead. However, in the more protected interior regions of these mangrove patches you are seeing mangroves returning and those creek systems where you have mangrove habitats that are inland and protected from the full force of the sea, are also recovering and looking very healthy,” Daniels said.

The biodiversity team also saw several species of wetland and forest birds as well as endemics like the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar as well as pine saplings that are growing in areas where the trees were dead. Information on the wildlife in East Grand Bahama will also be included in the biodiversity inventory that will be made public.

“We are seeing a lot more birds in the area but most of them are winter migrants from North America coming to The Bahamas and their presence increases our avian fauna by over 50 per cent,” said Scott Johnson, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. “What’s also interesting is that some of the highest diversity of birds we are seeing is in patches of coppice areas in East Grand Bahama. These birds are occupying sites that have a variety of plant species that are producing flowers and some fruits so they have food resources.”

Although the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar have been observed in the area, other pineland species of birds have not been seen since Hurricane Dorian in 2019, he added.

“I fear that they may have been extirpated from the East Grand Bahama area. Until that pineland ecosystem comes back which may allow for new immigration of birds in that area, chances are that we may not see Bahama Warblers, Olive-Capped Warblers, or Cuban Emeralds in that area for a while,” Johnson said.

The IWEco The Bahamas project is part of a larger, regional undertaking for the Caribbean funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). For The Bahamas, the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), the Forestry Unit, the Ministry of Public Works and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are the leading partners.

The work that is being done towards creating a biodiversity inventory is pivotal as it will not only benefit the natural environment but involve citizens more closely in sustaining it. East Grand Bahama has a diverse ecosystem in its plant and animal life as well as its habitats. Investigating and gathering a record of all these life forms is a key part of developing the systems and driving the adaptation to make the environment stronger.

“The Biodiversity Inventory conducted under the IWEco project and its respective findings show significant signs of ecosystem regeneration, and therefore signs of hope as it relates to Hurricane Dorian recovery,” said IWEco The Bahamas National Project Coordinator Melissa Ingraham. “The inventory, amongst other project aspects, such as the development of an ecotourism sector and capacity building opportunities will be incorporated into a watershed management plan to sustainably guide resource use and management at a community based level.”

The project aims to develop and implement of integrated systems that support ecosystem health and strengthen national monitoring and evaluation systems. Other goals include policy, legislative and institutional reforms to increase capacity for sustainable natural resource management and deepening the knowledge that is key for effective stakeholder involvement.


Header: Gathering information for the biodiversity inventory from the pineland forest near West Gap Creek.

1st Insert: These dead mangroves at Ridge Creek are among the lingering signs of Hurricane Dorian’s trek across East Grand Bahama.

2nd insert: Members of the IWEco The Bahamas biodiversity team visit the mangroves at Ridge Creek where there are signs of recovery.


Press Release: IWECO



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MOSSUD to adopt ‘You are Somebody’ Programme in early 2022



#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe said his Ministry will adopt the “You are Somebody” Programme within the first quarter of the year 2022 as a means of ensuring that the community of persons with disabilities are included in all aspects of society.

Minister Wilchcombe was addressing the Church Service held (Sunday, November 28 at Living Waters Kingdom Ministries) to officially launch Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Week runs November 27 to December 4 under the theme: ‘Inclusion for All.’

Inclusion, Minister Wilchcombe said, has been more of a word, than an action.

“The Bible tells us that our gifts open doors,” Minister Wilchcombe told his inhouse and virtual audience. “The Bible didn’t say that you have to be able or living with a disability; the Bible says that all of us have gifts and that we should all utilize our gifts, and leadership must do what it can to lift those gifts and make them useful for communities, for societies, for our country.

“My purpose here today is to tell you that over the next several months, all of the things you thought were left, were gathering dust, will be lifted, will become part of the dialogue in this country and will become a part of the action taken by the Ministry responsible for Social Services and Urban Development (to ensure inclusion). I thank you. I appreciate you. You are somebody.”

Speaking formally for the very first time (outside of the House of Assembly) as Minister regarding one of the units that fall under his remit, Minister Wilchcombe told members of the community that the “You are Somebody” Programme (the name is adopted from the words of U.S Civil Rights icon, the Reverend Jesse Jackson) will help to address some of the many issues still facing the community of persons with disabilities in The Bahamas.

“I have a difficulty with the fact that so many of you, in general, feel marginalized; I have a difficulty because you are not to be considered separate and different in our communities; I have  a difficulty because inclusion has been more of a word than action, that there is still discrimination, that we have not done some of the things that we were supposed to do legislatively; that you still do not have transportation that you ought to have.

“We still have not created the Foundation that was intended to raise funding. The truth is we have not fulfilled the agenda, we have not done what we ought to have done, and so I have come to tell you that my Ministry will be adopting, in the first quarter of next year, a simple programme for the disabled and the programme will be titled –  and I borrow the words of Jesse Jackson – ‘You are Somebody’ and we will do all we must to ensure that you are included.”

Minister Wilchcombe said the Ministry will “lead by example.”

“I am going to ensure that at the Ministry itself, that we lead by example. Those who wish to discriminate and do not wish to provide jobs and employment, well I don’t see why you can’t be receptionists; I don’t see why you can’t be working throughout the Ministry; I don’t see why the Ministry cannot set the example and cause others to follow. And so, we shall lead. My purpose is to ensure that you have an appreciation that you are loved, and that you are appreciated,”

Minister Wilchcombe also shared the stories of his brother, Richard, whom he said is autistic, and his best friend, a female, who spent most of her life in a wheelchair.

“What I found most interesting about both is that they have never been excluded, always included, always individuals who were present with incredible capacity, talent – in fact my brother always teases me that he can do things I can’t,” Minister Wilchcombe added.


By Matt Maura



 Photo Captions: 

Header: Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe addressing Sunday’s Church Service that officially launched Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Church Service was held at Living Waters Kindom Ministries. The Week runs November 27 – December 4.

1st insert: Bahamas Ambassador to CARICOM, Her Excellency Leslie Miller-Brice (third left), joined the community of persons with disabilities for Sunday’s Church Service launching Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas.  Her Excellency is pictured with (from left): Mr. Kendrick Rolle, Disability Affairs Division; Miss Christina Fernander, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities; Mrs. Desire Clarke, Deputy Secretary, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (to Her Excellency’s left); Mrs. Annette Lunn, Sign Language Interpreter/Community of Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing; Mr. Kelvin Lunn and Miss Tamera Lunn.

2nd insert: Mrs. Annette Lunn provides Sign Language Interpretation for the community of persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing during Sunday’s Church Service. Sign Language Interpreters help to bridge the communication gap for the community. Sign Languages are an extremely important communications tool for members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)



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