BNT Statement on Discarded Barge Resting on Reef West of the Nassau Harbour
Photo caption: Partially sunken barge resting on reef west of The Nassau Harbour. Photo credit: Michael Freifeld with support from IDEA Relief and BREEF.
December 23rd, 2022 – Nassau, Bahamas
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is aware of a discarded barge that is evidently resting on a reef west of the Nassau Harbour. We wish to make our members and the public aware that we have been in communication with the Port Department since last week when the half-sunken barge was first spotted. We have also spoken to Senior Commander Berne Wright, Acting Port Controller. Controller Wright advised his Department was aware, had initiated an investigation, and had received preliminary reports of the damage. BNT Executive Director Eric Carey urged the Port Department to do everything in its power to mobilize and remove the barge before further damage to the marine ecosystem occurs, and to fine the owner of the barge and/or responsible parties in accordance with Bahamian environmental legislation.
This issue is covered under section 20 of the Environmental Planning and Protection Act 2019. Under this Act, if found guilty the owner of the vessel can receive a 50 thousand dollar penalty, and/or a five-year prison sentence. Additionally, the owner of the vessel can be made to bear the costs of all assessments, long-term monitoring up to 10 years, and restoration of damaged reefs. If the reef cannot be restored, the owner of the vessel can be made to pay the assessed value of the reef, including the value of all associated ecosystem services that reef would have provided.
Aerial and underwater photographs provided by photographer Michael Freifeld with support from IDEA Relief and BREEF, as well as other local residents, show the barge has caused damage to the seafloor and reefs in the area. If not removed swiftly, further damage to the vitally important ecosystem will be irreparable.
Coral reefs are an invaluable resource to our environment and to The Bahamian way of life. They provide coastal protection during storms; help sustain marine biodiversity; and contribute millions of dollars to the Bahamian economy each year through fisheries and tourism. The BNT will continue to monitor this matter and seek appropriate action in order to safeguard our corals and marine environment.
Media Contact: Leah Carr | firstname.lastname@example.org | (242) 429-7902
About the BNT:
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of The Bahamas. Possibly the only non-governmental organization in the world charged with such a responsibility, the BNT works daily to conserve and protect the natural resources of The Bahamas through stewardship and education for present and future generations. There are currently 32 National Parks managed by the BNT with more than 2 million acres of marine and terrestrial areas protected.