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Reef Rescue Network: Donor Event Charts the Course for Coral Restoration and Sustainable Tourism in The Bahamas

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#TheBahamas, March 26, 2024 – As the world grapples with the urgency of marine conservation, The Bahamas has emerged as a beacon of hope with its latest initiative led by the Reef Rescue Network (RRN). An alliance of dive operators, NGOs and businesses invested in coral restoration, the RRN recently hosted an immersive event for the British High Commissioner and representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to provide a firsthand look—and dive—into the thriving heart of coral nurseries. The gathering served as a vivid testament to the progress achieved by the RRN and its partners in coral restoration efforts over the past two years, thanks to support from the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility.

Fueled by its vision of harmonizing economic vitality with environmental sustainability, the RRN has strategically harnessed the support of the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility grant, backed by the IDB, the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (UK FCDO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and the Government of Canada. This collaborative effort aims to amplify The Bahamas’ blue economy by integrating eco-tourism with a series of coral restoration projects, poised to transform the archipelago into a magnet for eco-conscious tourists and bolster the local economy with a sustainable model.

As a vanguard of coral conservation and education, the RRN’s expansive network spans over 50 nursery locations across The Bahamas, Aruba, and St. Lucia. Beyond mere conservation, the network offers tourists an array of Reef Rescue Experiences, designed to kindle a profound connection with the marine world. From specialized diving courses to snorkeling and shark conservation education, these programs do more than highlight the ecological significance of coral reefs—they empower participants to actively engage in safeguarding these vital underwater ecosystems, ensuring their preservation for generations to come.

The event, held earlier this month, was graced by the presence of distinguished participants including Thomas Hartley, British High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Claire Nichols, Deputy British High Commissioner, Daniela Carrera-Marquis, Country Representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in The Bahamas, and Claudia Stevenson, IDB specialist and team leader of the project. The day commenced with an insightful presentation on the RRN’s milestones, buoyed by the vital funding from Compete Caribbean and other donors, followed by a hands-on experience at one of the network’s coral nurseries located off the Southwest coast of New Providence.

Daniela Carrera-Marquis, an enthusiastic advocate for coral restoration, expressed her excitement about the innovative concept of coral restoration tourism. She said: “I am looking forward to completing my PADI Reef Rescue Diver certification and diving more to assist with coral restoration efforts in The Bahamas,” echoing the sentiment of engagement and direct action that the RRN aims to foster among its partners and the community. At the event, Daniela participated in scuba diving and performed maintenance on an underwater coral nursery while the others snorkeled and viewed the nursery from above.

The event not only served as a platform for appreciation but also as an eye-opener to the real-world challenges reefs face, as highlighted by Thomas Hartley’s reflections on witnessing the impacts of climate change firsthand. He said: “It was devastating to see the effects of coral bleaching on the reefs.” Coral bleaching is the process where stressed corals expel their colorful and life-sustaining algae, turning them white and leading to starvation, increased susceptibility to disease, and potentially death if the stress continues.

Over the past two years, with the support from Compete Caribbean and other donors, the RRN has made commendable progress in expanding and developing coral nurseries, enhancing the capacity of its human resources, and promoting coral restoration standards throughout the Bahamian archipelago. This includes the installation of 14 new coral nurseries, expansion of 4 existing ones, and the addition of 3,450 coral fragments to nursery units, significantly increasing the ecological benefits to local reefs.

Moreover, the RRN has successfully developed shallow water experiences for non-divers, introducing 35 “coral domes” across 10 dive sites, populated with 943 coral fragments. The living coral domes not only diversify the experience for RRN partners but also educates a broader audience on coral reef conservation.

The network’s efforts have also extended to education and community engagement over the last two years, with 81 Bahamian high school children educated on coral reefs and restoration activities. This engagement aims to instill stewardship behaviors among the youth, ensuring the longevity of marine conservation efforts.

Despite the setbacks faced due to the 2023 summer bleaching crisis, which hampered outplanting activities, the RRN remains steadfast in its mission. Coral reefs form the bedrock of The Bahamas’ tourism sector, contributing significantly to the nation’s $2.6 billion annual tourism revenue. With over two million tourists engaging in snorkeling activities annually, coral reefs serve not only as a magnet for visitors but as a sanctuary for diverse marine life, supporting over 25% of ocean species. The vitality of these ecosystems is also underscored by the lucrative shark diving sector, which generates $113.8 million each year.

However, these invaluable ecosystems are under severe threat from coral bleaching, primarily driven by climate change-induced ocean heatwaves. Significant coral loss was reported throughout The Bahamas in 2023, marking a distressing trend that could foresee the demise of coral reefs by mid-century without decisive and innovative conservation strategies. Hayley-Jo Carr, director of the Reef Rescue Network, said: “By harnessing resilient coral species and employing advanced restoration techniques, the RRN, along with its partners and the global scientific community, is at the forefront of a critical battle to preserve these natural treasures for future generations.”

As the RRN continues to navigate the challenges and opportunities in coral conservation, the support and involvement of its partners, donors, and the community remain crucial. The recent donor event not only celebrated the achievements but also reinforced the collective resolve to restore and protect the vibrant coral ecosystems that are vital to the marine life and communities of The Bahamas.

The Reef Rescue Network’s development and outputs over the last two years have been made possible thanks to the support of The Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) which is a private sector development programme that delivers innovative and practical solutions that stimulate economic growth, increase productivity, and foster innovation and competitiveness. The CCPF works across 13 countries and is a partnership between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and the Government of Canada. Further support has been provided by Disney Conservation Fund, Moore Bahamas Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and the Global Funds for Coral Reefs (GFCR), the latter of which is a blended finance instrument to mobilise action and resources to protect and restore coral reef ecosystems.

For more information on the Reef Rescue Network and how to get involved, visit https://www.PerryInstitute.org/.

 

Photo Captions: 

Header: Leaders in conservation and international delegates, including representatives from the IDB and the British High Commission, unite aboard with the Reef Rescue Network team, embodying a powerful coalition for coral restoration and sustainable development in The Bahamas.

1st insert: A highlight of the event, guests were treated to the rare sight of a spotted eagle ray, a reminder of the precious marine life the Reef Rescue Network strives to protect in The Bahamas’ pristine waters.

2nd insert: Daniela Carrera-Marquis, InterAmerican Development Bank Representative, meticulously tends to a coral nursery as part of the Reef Rescue Network’s hands-on approach to coral conservation, illustrating the powerful synergy between human effort and marine restoration in The Bahamas.

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Bahamas News

$36 Million Dollar Upgrade for World Athletics Relays in Nassau, Bahamas

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

 

After years of thorough maintenance, The Thomas A Robinson National Stadium in The Bahamas is finally getting a multi-million dollar makeover, readying the 10 year old facility ahead of the World Athletics Relays on May  5, 2024; it is being staged in Nassau for the fourth time. 

 

This $36 million refurbishment is being funded by the Chinese Government, as part of a vision to enhance the country’s sport infrastructure to benefit youths in athletics. The stadium was gifted to The Bahamas in 2012 by the Chinese.

 

The relay is the qualifying event for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games and there will be 32 national teams, in each relay event, and 20 races on both days of competition, according to World Athletics. 

Day 1, will have 20 heats across the five olympic events (4 heats each for 4×100, 4×400, men, women and mixed) and will qualify 40 teams for the Summer Olympics.  The top two teams from each heat will directly qualify for the Games.

On day 2, 30 more national teams will be qualified through 15 repechage heats and five finals, across those five events.

 

The upgrades which include new trusses, rooftops, seats, the lawn, score boards, LED displays and more, are expected to be complete at least two weeks before the relays, being held under the theme: ‘Chase the  Sun’. 

 

In a special ceremony on Monday April 8, The Bahamas Prime Minister, Philip Davis said:

 

In December 2023, our shared vision took shape, as the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and the government of the People’s Republic of China, inked an implementation agreement for the renovation of the stadium. This gesture of goodwill and friendship, from the Chinese government to undertake the China Aid Maintenance and Renovation project of our national stadium, stands as a testament to the strong bonds that unite our countries. This project, executed by China Urban Construction Research Institute Company Limited, and the China Machinery Industry Construction Group Company Limited, reflects our shared commitment to excellence, innovation and mutual development.”

 

Additionally, H.E Dai Qingli, outgoing Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas who also attended that ceremony, spoke. 

 

“At the end of the project, the Bahamian people will get a fully renewed and modern world class stadium because everything is going to be either renewed or repaired,” she said.

Some 1600 athletes will be in The Bahamas for the World Athletics relays, with five events.  The Bahamas won the bid over Lausanne, Rome in 2022.

 

 Mario Bowleg,  Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture in reports, thanked China for their contribution to the redevelopment of the stadium. 

 

“We thank them for their commitment to ensuring that they bring this facility back up to A1 standard so that we can continue holding international events and using these facilities as a development of our young people.”

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Bahamas News

Grand Bahama Airport Demolition

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BIS Photo: Lisa Davis

Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

TheBahamas#TheGrandBahamaAirportDemolition, April 10, 2024 – The demolition of the Grand Bahama International Airport has begun, to start transformative construction as previously announced by Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Aviation and Investments, Chester Cooper, last month. Cooper says a new state of the art facility will be created to redefine Grand Bahama’s access to global opportunities and meet international standards.

 

 

 

 

 

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Saxons Brass Section Thanks CWCO for Continued Commitment

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NASSAU, BAHAMAS (April 9th, 2024) Behind the vibrant costumes and electrifying beats of Junkanoo parades are committed members, mentors, and supporters such as Consolidated Water (Bahamas) Ltd. (CWCO). In a heartfelt acknowledgment of years of generous support, the Saxons Superstars’ brass section, High Voltage Brass, recently visited the water supplier to present a plaque of appreciation.

Jeremy Adderley, speaking on behalf of High Voltage Brass, said, “Without CWCO’s support, we would not have had the brass costumes needed to compete and secure our two-straight victory. Their support also helps us as we plan lessons for our young members to enhance their musicianship skills, not just for Junkanoo but for college and beyond.”

Adderley highlighted that the plaque is a token of High Voltage Brass’ immense gratitude for CWCO helping the Saxons Superstars keep culture alive and for being a steadfast partner in developing future leaders.

He added, “Every year, it is a struggle to make it to Bay Street. Many of our members are eager to participate, despite their circumstances, and every year our group continues to grow. Thanks to CWCO’s generosity, we look forward to continuing to grow and succeed alongside their great team and establishment.”

Henderson Cash, CWCO’s General Manager, said, “Receiving this plaque from the Saxons Superstars is a profound honor for us at CWCO. It symbolizes the strong relationship we’ve built over the years, rooted in mutual respect and a shared commitment to preserving Bahamian heritage.

“Our support for the Saxons Superstars’ brass section is emblematic of our broader mission to invest in our community’s vibrancy and the potential of its young people. We are deeply committed to continuing this support and fostering the traditions that make our culture so unique.”

 

Photo Caption: The Saxons Superstars’ brass section, High Voltage Brass, recently visited Consolidated Water (Bahamas) Ltd. (CWCO) to present a plaque of appreciation.

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