In 1962, a lease was issued to the Grand Bahama Development Company for Peterson Cay, on the condition that “approximately $7,000 would be spent on improvement or construction on the Cay by February 1967”. In late 1966 as the deadline approached for improvements to be advanced, the Grand Bahama Port Authority requested of the Premier, Sir Roland Symonette, to approve a transfer of the Port Authority’s lease rights for Peterson Cay, to the Bahamas National Trust. They envisioned Peterson Cay to be preserved and held for public use and enjoyment. By this time, The Bahamas Government, which had already recognized the importance of the area, established a protected area around Peterson Cay under Chapter 25 of The Agriculture and Fisheries Act, which took effect in December of 1967. This order, entitled “The Protected Area (Peterson Cay) Rules 1967”, prohibited the removal of any plant or tree from Peterson Cay, and restricted fishing and other extractive activities within 400m or one-quarter of a mile around Peterson Cay.
Elkhorn coral | Peterson Cay National Park
On 1st April 1968, Peterson Cay (excluding the surrounding marine environment) was turned over to the BNT and was then established as the smallest national park in the Bahamas National Parks System at 1.5 acres. The idea of expanding park boundaries to include surrounding waters was realized as early as 1983, through a request by The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. A total of 52 sites were proposed for inclusion in the National Protected Area System, which incorporated the extension of Peterson Cay as a high priority.
Coral Reef | Peterson Cay National Park
In 2013, the Trust received a grant funding from The Waitt Foundation through the Nature Conservancy, to conduct targeted outreach activities to raise awareness and in 2015, Peterson Cay National Park was expanded from 1.5 acres to 1,000 acres, as part of the August 2015 Protected Area designations, which increased the National Marine Protected Area coverage to 10% of marine and coastal environments, meeting international commitments under the Convention of Biological Diversity.
As such, park boundaries now encompass the surrounding marine environment around Peterson Cay protecting 1,000 acres of mostly marine habitats.