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6th September 2005
Paradise Destroyed: developer bulldozes unique tropical habitats while the Bahamian Government turns a blind eye.
It is an accelerating act of environmental hooliganism that has left scientists, conservationists and the people of the tiny Bahamian islands of Bimini outraged. Petitions, campaigns, scientific advice and demonstrations have all been ignored.
The hotel developer Gerardo Capo of Miami, Florida, now working in association with the prestigious Conrad Hilton Hotels group, has been given carte blanche by the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas to bulldoze and dredge priceless and fragile habitats -- mangrove forests, lagoon systems and seagrass beds -- so that he can build a vast marina, golf course and hotel complex on virgin sites in Bimini. These rich habitats currently shelter numerous rare and endangered species including the Brown Pelican, Roseate Tern, Least Tern, Hawksbill Turtle, Green Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Smalltooth Sawfish, Spotted Eagle Ray, Lemon Shark, Bonnethead Shark and Bull Shark.
The outgoing government had recognized the ecological importance of these fragile habitats and was in the process of declaring the entire region a protected area. The incoming government rescinded these proposals and has encouraged the destruction to continue.
Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch of the Shark Trust, who has studied the mangroves and inshore ecosystems of Bimini stated: "The mangrove habitats of Bimini are the only ones in the region. They are a vital ecosystem for numerous species of animal that range far beyond them. This huge tourist development is completely out of scale with the tiny island communities of Bimini. It will obliterate the unique marine habitats that thrive there. With those habitats destroyed and the hotel complex in place, the marine life will soon die out, the local people will lose their fishing grounds, seagrass beds and coral reefs to siltation and sewage and the islands themselves will become markedly more vulnerable to hurricanes".
The inshore ecosystems of Bimini are vital to the health of the islands, the islanders and the region as a whole. How can the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas allow this vandalism to continue?
Notes to editors:
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is a party to the RAMSAR Convention which is an intergovernmental treaty providing a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Mangrove ecosystems are highly productive and provide refuge, breeding grounds, food and nursery habitats for an enormous variety of both terrestrial and marine animals. For example 94% of the shrimps in the Gulf of Panama breed in mangroves and 90% of the commercial fish species in the Gulf of Mexico require mangroves for some part of their life cycle.
The Bimini mangrove ecosystem and associated lagoons, sand flats and seagrass beds are unique to the region: their destruction will degrade or destroy habitats far beyond them.
50% of the world's mangrove forests have been destroyed in the last 50 years.
For more information see:
The Shark Trust home page:
The Earth Island Institute:
Conrad Hotels/Capo Group association:
- Press Release.doc
- Montage of Photographs: Bimini_past_72dpi_a.jpg (Bimini before the destruction began) (100 KB)
- Montage of Photographs: Bimini_present_72dpi_a.jpg (Bimini today) (58 KB)
These images may be posted on websites and freely disseminated in connection with this issue. There are no copyright restrictions in this context.