By Pierre V.L. Dupuch
November 17, 1010
“We certainly do not agree with those who are calling on the government or the BNT to trap people into owning valuable and highly taxed land but not allow them reasonable access and use” – Bahamas National Trust.
Those were the words of wisdom uttered by the Bahamas National Trust in answer to public objections to permission granted by Minister Earl Deveaux, the Minister of Environmental Destruction, for the desecration of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. When I read them my mind flashed back fifty eight years to a banner which was hung on the wall in the back of my high school’s classroom which read: “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”
Everyone agrees that neither the government nor the Bahamas National Trust, or anyone else for that matter, should “trap people into owning valuable and highly taxed land …”
In this case, who trapped whom into Bell Island? The real estate agent – did he not tell the buyer of Bell Island about the restrictions on the Island and the Exuma Land and Sea Park? I doubt it. Was it the people at the Bahamas National Trust who failed to advise the buyer? After all, they had to give their approval for the sale of the land. I doubt it. Or, alas, did the Government, who had to give permission for a foreigner to purchase the land, not tell the purchaser of the restrictions?
After all, the Exuma Land and Sea Park did not just spring up from nowhere. If the folks at the Bahamas National Trust would care to read the act, the coordinates of the Sea Park were made law in 1959.
Forgetting the saying “buyers beware,” the sale of Bell Island was not just a land deal where only the real estate company and the buyer was involved. Four entities had to be involved in the sale of Bell Island – the buyer, the real estate broker, the government and the Bahamas National Trust. I cannot believe that at least one of those entities did not advise the buyer that there were restrictions.
I believe he was advised by all three local entities. Many years ago I bought land in Gleniston Gardens. I was told before I bought it that there were certain restrictions. It was at that point that I had to decide whether or not the restrictions were acceptable to me. It was at that point I could have said “yes or no” to the purchase. These restrictions were placed on it by the developer. The restrictions placed on Bell Island and the Exuma Land and Sea Park were placed there by LAW.
In my last comment about Bell Island and the Exuma Land and Sea Park I said that Mrs. Lynn Holowesko was President of the Bahamas National Trust when the Exuma Land and Sea Park was established. I was wrong. The Sea Park was established in 1959 when Mrs. Holowesko was still in school. For this I apologize. She was, however, President of the BNT from 1976 to 1982 and again from 1984 to 1991. During her terms as President the restrictions about taking ones catch from the Park were rigorously enforced, and as President she was a staunch defender of the Land and Sea Park regulations.
Several days ago, Mr. Brensil Rolle said that the Park should be “managed” better. What is he talking about? A warden is already there and arrests anybody fishing in the Park. Unfortunately, the warden doesn’t police helicopters flying overhead apparently making arrangements, in my opinion, to rape the park. It is best that Mr. Rolle keep his mouth shut!!!
During the course of these articles, someone wrote to say that the “little man” was not worried about what reef was being destroyed, or lionfish, or sea cucumbers being taken from the sea bed; the “little man” was worried about where the next job was coming from. He was right and he was wrong. In the short run he was right. His first responsibility is to feed his family. But his responsibility does not stop there; he must help decide where the children yet unborn, when we’re six feet under and pushing lilies, are going to find employment to feed their families.
If we allow developers to destroy our most valuable asset now, which could provide for our yet unborn children, we will have failed in our second responsibility and that is to leave this a better, more productive place than we found it.
The Exuma Land and Sea Park is a valuable asset. It could provide employment for generations to come. Its asset is beauty that can be packaged and sold many times over and remain to be sold again. There are only two such assets in the world and beauty is one of them.
To say that dredging over four areas of land, fifteen feet deep, will not cause damage to the surrounding reef, change the flow of water in the area and cause erosion is utter hogwash!!!! And the Minister knows it.
Reasonable access? I am told that Bell Island is on the edge of the park and that there is deep water on the other side. Is that not reasonable access?
Or, is access and use not really the story here? Several years ago I was told that strip mining rock on these islands could be a multi billion dollar business. I was told that there was a company which will … or already has … made application to mine rock here under the “guise” of tourism development. Rock mined from fresh water is even more valuable. I understand further that applications have been made to mine areas of fresh water in Andros and opening them to the sea, thus destroying fresh water lenses in Andros.
When you strip mine there is nothing left but a hole. Do we want to leave our grand children an empty hole, a hole of despair?
This whole sordid affair begs a number of questions:
1. Who was the public relations person or firm on the payroll of the Bahamas National Trust when this “deal” at Bell Island and the Exuma Sea Park was made?
2. What is the name or names of the companies doing the dredging at Bell Island and the Exuma Sea Park?
3. Who are the owners (front room and back room) of these dredging companies?
4. Where does the rock dredged from these sites go?
5. How many permits have been applied for and how many granted to do this kind of mining in The Bahamas?
6. Does the government benefit financially from any of this?
7. Name the islands and the locations on the islands that have already or are in the process of being mined.
8. Who commissioned the environmental impact study of the Park and who paid for it?
I still smell a rat!!
My advice to Mr. Eric Carey at the Bahamas National Trust is: Don’t be the fall guy … just duck!!
By the way, what’s happened to all these investigative reporters running around here? Are they too busy looking through keyholes, finding out who’s sleeping with whom, or who’s picking up whom in dark alleys?