Blue Carbon Project being developed for The Bahamas

The Hon. Basil McIntosh, Minister of State, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources; Mr.Jerome Fitzgerald, Senior Policy Advisor, OPM and The Hon. Vaughn P. Miller, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources

A Blue Carbon Offset Project is currently being developed for The Bahamas, which will support the financing of mangrove restoration efforts and coastal community resilience. Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Hon. Vaughn P. Miller, speaking at the United Nations Ocean Conference, said data collection and development of a pilot project are now underway. The project is a result of a partnership between the Government of The Bahamas and the Nature Conservancy. An assessment of the opportunities and enabling conditions for the development of the project was recently completed.

“We have prioritized coral reef conservation by endorsing long-term initiatives that facilitate the development of investment projects and businesses that contribute to the resilience of coral reefs and surrounding communities in The Bahamas,” Minister Miller told the conference.

“We are using science and technology applications in the fisheries management processes around our main commercial fisheries of queen conch, snapper, grouper and others. We expanded our near-shore Marine Protected Area Network by over 5 million acres last July and we increased the capacity of the Government to enforce the regulations.

The goal is to reach complete overall compliance and reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by 2025. We are meeting the challenge of this declared decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development head on.”

Under the theme: “Save Our Oceans, Protect Our Future”, the 2022 UN Ocean Conference is taking place in Lisbon, Portugal from June 27 to July 1. The Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, comes at a critical time as the world is seeking to address many of the deep-rooted problems of our societies laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and which will require major structural transformations and common shared solutions that are anchored in the SDGs. To mobilize action, the Conference will seek to propel much needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global oceanaction.

Minister Miller called on countries to become “singular in focus” in order to increase shared equity in the green and blue economy, guard against environmental harm, create good jobs and build resistance against the negative impacts of climate change.

“Greater climate adaptation and resilience will help countries like mine, mitigate and recover quickly from natural disasters and extreme weather events,” Minister Miller told the conference.

“For better or worse, we are inextricably linked to the ocean, in times of calm and calamity. We have built sustainable industries that are now in jeopardy of collapse, due to loss and damage and the negative impacts of climate change, poaching and unjust transitions in the global economy.”

The Bahamas has implemented several environmental laws, including an Environmental Planning and Protection Act that introduced criminal penalties for environmental destruction.

There is also a nationwide Ban on Selected Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam that phased out the import of single-use plastic bags, food utensils, and styrofoam food containers. The Bill also made it illegal to release balloons into the air. The passage of the Biological Resources and Traditional Knowledge Act will regulate marine and other types of research and ensure the fair and equitable sharing and benefits arising out of the use of natural resources and traditional knowledge.

“Mangroves are now a protected species and we have modernized our Fisheries Act to provide for mandatory reporting and universal licensing,” he said.

“No climate change, no loss, no damage will retard our advancement in this space. We have come this week, as a part of a coalition of the willing, to lend our support and voice to your efforts and seek support on behalf of the resilient people of The Bahamas.”

Writer: Felicity Darville

Minister Vaughn Miller giving his address to the UN Ocean Conference