Bahamian prime minister calls for reef conservation

The prime minister of Bahamas has called for the conservation of the nation’s reefs.

Prime minister, Perry Christie, has urged stakeholders to ensure that the nation’s natural wealth, including its beaches, coast, associated reef system and marine life, are not destroyed or unduly compromised in the process of developing a tourism infrastructure. His call comes as the national economy is increasingly dependent on tourism and tourist services. While addressing the opening ceremony of Caribbean Travel Marketplace last Sunday at the Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas, Christie said that the hotel and resort developers opt for prime beachfront and coastal areas of the Caribbean, which can have ecologic costs that are often irreversible.

Christie said, ‘While this appetite is perfectly understandable in the competitive market for tourists who are looking to be right on the beach and right next to the water, this paradigm may not always be compatible with coastal and beach-conservation objectives of national governments.’

He added that when the beachfront is used for purposes such as recreation, swimming, fishing and relaxation, it puts a great deal of strain on the ecosystem. He said that dealing with the problem was a very complex subject, which would require finding ways and means to strike the right balance between commerce and nature preservation. He said that an answer had to be found, because at stake was the very sustenance of tourism.

‘We are going to be increasingly challenged to harmonise national and regional objectives for environmental conservation and protection with the commercial objectives of private-sector hotel and resort developers. We must be careful to protect our environment and stay engaged in national, regional and international measures to curtail climate change and coastal erosion,’ Christie said, adding that due regard had to be given to the recent UN General Assembly landmark resolution that recognised ecotourism as a tool for the promotion of sustainable development.