by Larry Smith
One year ago, the research firm Public Domain conducted a telephone survey on behalf of The Nature Conservancy to gauge Bahamian views on the importance of protecting the marine environment.
Public Domain interviewed over 900 residents on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco last May, and the poll had a level of confidence of 95 per cent, according to the company’s principal, M’wale Rahming.
The results were definitive, to say the least.
More than 90 per cent of all respondents said that the government should make protecting our marine environment a priority, yet more than two thirds of respondents on each island believed not enough was being done in this regard.
Over 80 per cent said they would support the creation of marine protected areas throughout the Bahamas, and similar numbers said they would vote for a government that protected the environment.
More than 70 per cent considered the following issues to be urgent, requiring the immediate attention of government: protecting coral reefs, protecting marine life, developing a sustainable economy, preserving wetlands and creating marine protected areas.
In his executive summary, Rahming said the results show that the marine environment “is at the centre of the Bahamian DNA…the heart of Bahamian culture and daily life”, but most people feel the government is not doing enough to protect it.
“The brand of the government would benefit from tackling (this issue) strongly,” he said. "According to the vast majority of Bahamians, safeguarding marine life in general (coral reefs, conch, etc.) requires immediate attention.”
Worldwide, less than 1 per cent of the ocean is fully protected, compared to 13 per cent of the land surface. Scientists agree that to conserve the ocean’s biodiversity, we need modern management tools, including legally required and globally respected marine protected areas.