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New Chairman Looks to Grow BAMSI

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#TheBahamas, January 15, 2022 – Critics of the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) might argue that the Institute had been left to languish in mediocrity after a stellar launch in 2014. Initially, the Institute soared, with laser-like focus, on an upward trajectory of success including; experts, both international and Bahamian from the field of agriculture and marine science, were brought in to equip students, staff and farmers with technical knowledge, the academic arm held the first of successive graduations in 2016, and international partnerships were formed that would benefit students and staff alike and bring a level of esteem to the Institute.

Woven amongst these triumphs however, cracks, setbacks, and seemingly insurmountable hurdles arose. Combine these inefficiencies with the impact in recent years of major hurricanes, a downturn in the economy and the loss of key personnel, BAMSI struggled with its identity and lost sight of its original mandate.

Under the leadership of newly appointed Chairman Tyrel Young, who assumed office November 1, 2021, the way forward for BAMSI is steadily and strategically being carved out and a return to the original objectives and mission statement seem assured.

“I want people to know that from day one, my priority was to understand the Government’s plan for BAMSI and to carry out that mandate to the best of my ability, and with the full support of the staff. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, food security must remain at the top of our agenda. We must be able to provide at least the basic food items for ourselves on a consistent basis and we must be able to do that in a sustainable manner, so that future generations of Bahamians will be supported and have access to arable land, and delicacies like conch and lobster. “

Finding the farm in a disappointing level of disarray – this is one of the first areas Mr. Young turned his attention to. With almost 90 percent of the tractors down, Mr. Young moved to have the machines quickly repaired so that production on the farm could ramp up to an acceptable level and also so the Institute could better support its Associate Farmers.

The wellbeing of the farm itself was quickly reasserted as a critical objective, as was identifying the essential crops and increasing production, research and training of farm staff.

“As we head into 2022, my goal is to see a steady increase in the types of crops grown by BAMSI, our partners in the Associated Farmers program and all farmers across the Bahamas. Part of BAMSI’s job, as research Institute, is to provide critical information for the sector in terms of best practices, best variety for our environment, and healthiest options for our populace,” he said.

“We want to balance supporting the business of farming – that is seeing farmers maximize their earning potential – with making the healthiest produce available to the widest spectrum of our citizenry…and available at a cost they can afford,” Mr. Young said. “Persons living in the inner cities, the less fortunate, those living on the margins of society, they should all have access to healthy produce in their neighbourhoods and be able to actual include these items – fresh fruit and vegetables – in their grocery budget.”

The academic arm also required greater support. Unlike many government departments, agencies and ministries, there was an immediate need to increase the staff compliment with educated, motivated and focused individuals who would assist in the training of young and not so young future agriculturalist and marine scientists.

A key component of the new mandate is driving enrollment levels up by widening the recruitment net and making it easier for recent graduates and those interested in making a career change to choose BAMSI and work through the enrolment process quickly and smoothly, all while feeling supported by staff and administration.

“Just like UB and BTVI, the Government of the Bahamas is committed to providing free education to qualified candidates at BAMSI. We want students and parents to know that if you pass five BGCSE’s, math and English included, the BAMSI Government Tertiary Education Grant is available to you. It covers a range of things from tuition and fees to textbooks. We want senior high students, especially those in grades 10 and 11, to start planning now to enroll in BAMSI. A beautiful campus along with a talented team of educators awaits you,” Mr. Young said.

Other areas of BAMSI are also scheduled for revamping. The Distribution Centre, long a favourite amongst the Bahamian public, especially those who are focused on locally grown, healthy food items, will again showcase the best produce the nation has to offer. The $20 produce box continues to be a much sought-after item.

Pulling all of these areas together, Mr. Young noted, the Institute is set to launch an aggressive marketing campaign to ensure that BAMSI becomes a household name in the best possible way…a leader in sustainable farming, a world-class academic institute in agriculture and marine science, a top regional research Centre, and a partner and stakeholder along with every Bahamian farmer. “My goal is that every Bahamian is aware of the full range of services and goods the Nassau/Andros-based Institute has to offer.”

 

Press Release: BAMSI

Bahamas News

GBPA Statement from Ian Rolle, President

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Re:  GBPA’s Response to fire in the International Bazaar

 

#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority is aware of the recent fire at the International Bazaar.

The GBPA has engaged, and continues to engage, with operators of the International Bazaar, which include representatives of the Bazaar Association and several property owners, so that we can continue demolition exercises on the dilapidated structures and buildings.

The GBPA is acutely aware of the need to demolish derelict structures within the International Bazaar for the safety of all businesses and visitors. We have performed demolitions in the past at our own cost, most recently in February 2022 when we, in partnership with owners, demolished fire-damaged buildings in the Oriental Section. We have also written to numerous property owners of dilapidated structures over the years to sensitize them to the need to repair or demolish their buildings.

In addition, we have engaged the Government of the Bahamas in advance discussions to approve our requested amendments of the Building and Sanitary bylaws, which would enable GBPA to execute more demolitions in a timely manner and recoup the associated costs.

With the requested bylaw amendments in place, GBPA can continue to make consistent efforts to address the remainder of derelict buildings in the International Bazaar and other dilapidated structures within the city.

The GBPA itself has never owned any part of the International Bazaar but has historically subsidized the Bazaar for many years when owners were no longer maintaining its communal areas.

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Beneath the Waves’ summer camp inspires young Bahamians to become stewards of the environment

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#TheBahamas, August 10, 2022 – While the waters near Great Exuma are renowned for their unmatched beauty, last weekend, more than 40 students spent a day with Beneath the Waves learning the deeper value of the marine ecosystems that surround their islands and act as a bedrock for the Bahamian economy and way of life.

As participants in the non-profit’s summer camp, the young students learned about mangrove and coral reef habitats and the many species that live among them.

They heard about some of Beneath the Waves’ research, including studies of sharks, seagrass and blue carbon, and research methods like underwater video surveys.

Coral Vita Conservancy, which has been working relentlessly to restore coral reefs off Grand Bahama, sent team member Joe Oliver , Director of Restoration Operations, to assist with the camp and provide in-depth information on corals in The Bahamas.

Team ECCO, a North Carolina-based ocean education organization, also provided in-depth lessons on invertebrates and fish.

Long after the taste of ice cream at the end-of-day party has faded, campers will remember learning how to tag a lifelike shark. And they’ll wear their camp t-shirts with pride, remembering this is the day they learned to value the water all around them and what lies beneath the waves.

Eleven-year-old twin sisters Kassidy and Kaylee Burrows described the camp as a highlight of their summer vacation.

“We had a lot of fun,” said Kassidy. “And we learned all about sponges, the water, mangroves, coral reefs — how they protect animals and how they protect the shore — and also about animals themselves, aquatic animals, for example, sea anemones, corals, sponges and sharks.”

Kassidy was especially enthused to share her experience with helping to plant new mangroves.

“We found out how mangrove seeds can actually disperse into the water,” she said.

“And I thought they were going to be small seeds, but, in my opinion, they looked like asparagus kind of.

“We also got to go in the water and plant new mangroves.”

Beneath the Waves’ scientists have been studying The Bahamas’ waters for more than a decade, having helped with the creation and management of conservation policies, including the legislation that made the country’s waters a shark sanctuary in 2011.

The non-governmental organization knows that in continuing efforts to protect The Bahamas’ greatest asset, its natural environment, community buy-in is vital.

And in that context, the value of helping young Bahamians gain these kinds of hands-on experiences and lessons, ones they’ll undoubtedly carry with them through life, can’t be overstated.

Kaylee Burrows is already brainstorming the ways she can apply what she learned in her future career.

While the mangroves piqued her sister’s interest, Kaylee said she was fascinated by coral reefs and the important role they play on a global scale, though she noted they don’t seem to be sufficiently appreciated.

“I learned that The Bahamas has some of the biggest coral reefs in the world,” she said. “We actually put pieces of coral on a pipe to help build a platform for the coral. The reason I chose coral reefs over all of the topics is because we the people of the Bahamas, don’t even recognize how important our islands are. These coral reefs are very beneficial to the whole world.”

Kaylee said she hopes to one day become a veterinarian and an author.

“As a vet, I can help not just land animals, but marine animals too,” she said. “As an author, I can write books on marine biology. I think this experience helped with my future career, and I’m forever grateful.”

Beneath the Waves Managing Director Jamie Fitzgerald said plans are underway to make the camp an annual event.

“We look forward to being able to work more closely with local schools in the islands we frequent, such as Exuma and Nassau, to develop educational materials around sharks and marine science, and to foster opportunities for internships and future careers for any aspiring Bahamian marine biologists,” Fitzgerald said.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Hands-on experience – Exuma students planting mangroves with the help of research scientists from Beneath the Waves  — just one of the many memorable moments from the non-profit’s summer camp that was held on July 23. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

1st insert: Learning about coral — With the help of experts from Coral Vita, a Grand Bahama-based organization working to restore reefs near the island, students built plaforms for coral. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

2nd insert: More to come  – Camp leaders and participants posed with the inflatable shark, as the first of what is hoped to be many Beneath the Waves summer camps came to an end. (Photos courtesy of Beneath the Waves)

 

Release: Beneath the Waves

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Caribbean Rising: Regional Heads of Government Meet in The Bahamas Aug 16-17 to discuss Caribbean position on Climate Change Mitigation

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#TheBahamas, August 5, 2022 – The Bahamas will host the first Regional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean in preparation for COP27 in Nassau, The Bahamas on August 16-17, 2022.

The inaugural event is being introduced by the Government of The Bahamas with the aim of devising a regional position on climate change mitigation ahead of COP 27 which will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt November 6-20, 2022.

Invited participants include the Head of State from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla,

Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.

The Government of The Bahamas intends to establish the meeting as an annual event and will seek to have it instituted as a regular meeting on calendar of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

“The Bahamas is introducing this conference as we seek to get results in the climate change fight,” Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas said ahead of the talks.

“The Bahamas, along with the region, has lobbied year after year, meeting after meeting, as we sought for the world to acknowledge our vulnerable position.”

“This meeting will position the Caribbean region to take control of our fate and present a unified position to the world at COP27,” Prime Minister Davis added.

The meeting is also intended to establish a Caribbean response exclusive of the conventional Latin

America-Caribbean pairing in order to better reflect common geographical and geo-political issues of Caribbean states.

“What we’ve been lacking regionally is a strategy that would aid us in our negotiation process when we go to the conferences of the parties referred to as COPs,” says Rochelle Newbold, Special Advisor on Climate Change and Environmental Matters and Climate Tsar in the Office of the Prime Minister in The Bahamas.

“This year will be COP number 27 and, as a region, we have never put forward a strategy document or an intent of how we want to deal with the issues that we face within the region collectively,” Newbold added.

The conference agenda will also focus on renewable energy, energy security, climate adaptation, climate financing, loss and damage due to tropical weather systems and establishing a framework for the sale of carbon credits.

Delegates attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in December 2021 signed off on a global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and counter global warming by limiting the temperature rise on Earth to a 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

The global warming phenomenon has been linked to more frequent and aggressive hurricanes in the Caribbean, which have subjected the region to billions of dollars in damage and bound countries to burdensome loan commitments.

According to the Assessment of the Effects and Impacts of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas report issued by the Inter-American Development Bank in March 2022,       damage and losses from Hurricane Dorian amounted to US$3.4 billion, a quarter of the country’s GDP.

A heat wave rolling across the United States and Europe is also being attributed to rising temperatures.

The UK recorded temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) for the first time in July 2022, according to local forecasters.

“We know that if we reach that 1.5°C and we exceed it, everything changes for everybody. While land-locked countries and large continents like South America will experience a change, island-states will experience that change three and four-fold.”

“With this meeting we will have all of those who face the same threat level sitting down together, discussing options, considering what is being suggested and how realistic this will be. For us, this is a fundamental thing that we should have been doing a long time ago,” Newbold said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a Chair’s Summary will be made available detailing the scope of the discussions as well as key messages and ideas that emerge. Additionally, the region plans to launch an initiative at COP27 to advance advocacy efforts on behalf of Caribbean States.

 

Photo Caption: During the weekly Press Briefing, at his Office, on August 4, 2022, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis announced that The Bahamas will host the Regional Caribbean Heads of Government Meeting, 16-17 August, 2022 at Baha Mar Resort.  (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

For Press Inquiries:

Clint Watson, Press Secretary

Office of The Prime Minister

Commonwealth of The Bahamas clintwatson@bahamas.gov.bs

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