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An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report has revealed that the Bahamian tourism industry losing up to $8.5 million annually to plastic beach waste, weakening the main attraction of the sector.
Accompanying the recent $200 million loan from the multilateral lender to the government, the report said that plastics have been found to account for more than 90 percent of Eleuthera's marine debris in recent research. "The Bahamas' accumulation of plastic marine debris was reported to be between 200 and 533 metric tons in 2010. Recent research undertaken on Eleuthera Island showed that 93 percent of all marine debris was plastic. Until 2019, there was no legislation or regulations in place to regulate or ban the usage of plastics in the Bahamas."
This refers to the legislation banning plastic bags, with the IDB adding: "By including legal and regulatory frameworks that encourage green alternatives, governments can influence the production of products and service provisions that are less detrimental to the environment."
Until 2019, there have been no clear legal guidelines in the Bahamas on sustainable procurement practices for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises ( MSMEs) to reduce the adverse environmental and social impacts of the products purchased, and no incentives for manufacturers to adopt practices that minimize negative impacts.
"The BEST Commission oversaw the approval of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and environment management Plans (EMP) before 2019 but had no strong mechanisms for their enforcement by, for example, imposing fines or requiring restoration. Also, in terms of providing better transparency and strengthening consultation measures, the procedures for EIAs had to be enhanced."
"As for the marine conservation efforts of the Bahamas, the IDB said:" The Bahamas committed to developing a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to achieve a healthy marine and coastal environment.
A 2017 gap analysis, however, revealed that only 20 percent of spawning fish areas, 50 percent of tidal creeks, 8 percent of seagrass beds, and 30 percent of coral reefs were protected. In cutting zones such as Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, and the western Great Bahama Bank, there were no protected areas.
Once new MPAs have been produced, management strategies that clearly define the places in the world and actively involve the communities have to be established and adopted. Also, clearer governance and financial mechanisms are required by the organizations involved in declaring, managing, and financing MPAs
Source: The Tribune