The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) highlighted the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park (MHCNP) at their Cuban Pig Roast fundraising event, which raised over $150,000 towards the development of a Welcome Centre for the breathtaking national park in Exuma.
Protecting over 22,000 acres of beaches, sand dunes, blue holes, coral reefs, mangrove creeks, seagrass meadows, and coppice forests, the MHCNP is a fabulous showcase of Bahamian biodiversity and safeguards a wide array of important species within its natural habitats. These
include endangered iguanas, corals, sea turtles, conch, crawfish, sharks, birds, and more. The MHCNP also offers incredible recreational opportunities for people – from snorkeling, kayaking, and kiteboarding, to bonefishing, hiking, and photography. Pig Roast 2023 put the
beauty of this national park on full display for its patrons, who had the opportunity to learn more about this unique national park they were supporting through a special video presentation.
BNT Executive Director Lakeshia Anderson-Rolle said, “The MHCNP is truly a gem in The Bahamas’ national park system – one we’re happy to have had the pleasure of sharing with our supporters at this event, and one we look forward to sharing with more people as the development of a Welcome Centre and other facilities draws more visitors to its incredible shores.
“Thanks to our generous donors, sponsors, and patrons, Pig Roast 2023 has been a record-breaking success, raising just more than $150,000. The Welcome Centre this will help develop is something that will be monumentally impactful for the people and visitors of Exuma. As we plan to expand the BNT’s infrastructure and capacity to safeguard this national jewel, the goal is to create opportunities for sustainable funding that supports park experiences for all.”
Marvin Arrington, President of Sagoma Construction International, a leading sponsor of the event said, “Sagoma is proud to support the BNT and their efforts at the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park. We believe in their vision for this magnificent place and are happy to play a role in seeing a Welcome Centre built in Little Exuma. We will continue to do our part as responsible corporate citizens in advancing the protection of the environment and of our pristine national parks here in TheBahamas.”
Pig Roast attendees got the chance to further boost the MHCNP during an exciting live auction, with an anchor pledge of $50,000 coming from primary event sponsors Bob and Jeanne Coughlin. The Coughlins’ annual philanthropic support of the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park is tremendous, generous, and majorly impactful; and their involvement has fostered a partnership between Elizabeth Harbour and Moriah Harbour that will pave the way towards protecting the waters of Georgetown, Exuma. For this, the BNT awarded them a Lifetime Membership certificate among other gifts at the event.
Bob Coughlin, a resident of Georgetown, owner of Big Sampson Cay, and co-founder of Friends of Exuma, said, “My wife and I care deeply about conservation as The Bahamas experiences rapid growth, and we have an opportunity with the activation of Moriah Harbour Cay National Park to preserve and teach for future generations. It’s a special place. We are committed to protecting it and continuing to assist in stewarding it towards its full potential as a natural resource that serves the local community.”
Among what it is notable for, the MHCNP has a history of supporting local traditions such as farming, fishing, and harvesting palm tops for the straw industry. Highlighted throughout Pig Roast were photographs from the BNT’s Oral History Project, funded by Friends of Exuma, which preserves Bahamian culture and heritage as it tells the story of resource use by the community surrounding Moriah Harbour Cay.
The Moriah Harbour Cay National Park has the potential to be a model for community-based conservation that benefits locals on Exuma and The Bahamas as a whole. It is currently being utilized as the site of ongoing “conchservation”, through the Queen Conch Mobile Hatchery Pilot Project – an experimental initiative to cultivate conch at the egg and larval phases, for education, research, and restoration purposes. A Welcome Centre for the park will increase accessibility, educational and engagement opportunities for visitors; provide a much-needed base of operations for the BNT; and create a focal point for ecotourism in the heart of the MHCNP.
Inspired by the joyous gatherings of family and friends in Cuba who come together to celebrate and enjoy good company, the Cuban Pig Roast is the BNT’s annual flagship fundraising event. Each year the funds raised support a priority BNT conservation program or initiative. This year the focus was on the MHCNP: one of 32 national parks managed by the BNT and a remarkable gem in The Bahamas’ national park system.
Pig Roast featured buffet-style dining from Events by Alexandra; premium cocktails generously provided by Bristol Wines & Spirits, Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits, Sands Beer, and Caribbean Wines & Spirits; live entertainment, and exciting raffle prizes, including Family Island weekend excursions with Bahamas Ferries tickets.
Pig Roast was sponsored by: RBC Capital Markets; Sagoma Construction International; Sandyport Development Company; Sun Oil Bahamas; CIBC FirstCaribbean; Atlantis; New Providence Ecology Park; Baha Mar Foundation; The Bayshore Group; Harbourside Marine; and Bahamas Waste.