The Bahamas first began codifying environmental protections, with help from the United Nations, in 2001. Up until the advent of the 21st century, there was no statutory authority for environmental controls.
2000: An environmental section was added to the Energy Ministry’s portfolio, leading to the first environmental protection law. A cabinet post for environmental protection and planning was also created.
2010: The Forestry Act established a special unit which sets out to conserve Bahamian pine, hardwood and mangrove forests while regulating their sustainable exploitation. The act also contains provisions for agroforestry; the legal protection of forests and wetlands; and for the management of invasive plants.
2013: The Bahamas National Invasive Species Strategy 2013 was passed. The Bahamas National Invasive Species Strategy is a national policy with a sectoral approach. The goal of the Strategy is the protection of environment, genetic diversity of flora and fauna, as well as of ecosystem services, through the prevention of introduction as well as management and eradication of invasive species.
2013: The Bahamas National Energy Policy 2013-2033 was introduced. The National Energy Policy is a national policy with a multi-sectoral approach. The timeframe of this policy is 20 years between 2013 and 2033. The goals of this Policy are (I) awareness-raising on energy conservation, rational use of energy, and energy efficiency; (II) the development of energy infrastructure for safe, reliable and affordable energy supply; (III) the development and implementation of sustainable energy management strategies in an environmentally sustainable manner; and (IV) dynamic and appropriate governance, institutional, legal and regulatory framework advancing future developments in the energy sector. This Policy lays down strategies to ensure a reliable, affordable, modern and environmentally sustainable energy sector. The energy sector will be developed to provide affordable energy supplies to all customers by enhancing the capacity to meet the long-term growth in the demand for energy. To this end, sustainable energy opportunities will be developed and implemented to increase access to energy while providing affordable energy supplies and ensuring long-term energy security. Public awareness will be raised to increase conservation and efficiency in use of energy by all sectors and by all citizens. The customers will be encouraged to generate their own energy through renewable energy sources. Energy infrastructure will be developed to improve the supply, storage, transportation, transmission, distribution, usage and the general handling of energy resources. Best practices will be promoted in efficient use and conservation of energy for the protection of the environment. The use of renewable energy and energy conservation will be promoted in the manufacturing, agricultural and tourism sectors for eco-efficiency. Climate change mitigation strategies will be integrated into energy management to reduce greenhouse gasses by protecting the environment while providing an alternative energy source. Data collection will be strengthened on renewable energy technologies. Employment and entrepreneurial opportunities will be diversified in the energy sector due to the increased use of renewable energy sources.
2014: Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Act, 2014 (No. 28 of 2014) was enacted.This Act establishes the Bahamas Protected Areas Fund as a body corporate and defines its functions and powers. It also defines the system of protected areas in The Bahamas and requires the Board of the Fund to establish and maintain a register called the Register of Protected Areas. The system shall include forest reserves, protected forests and conservation forests pursuant to an Order made under the Forestry Act, and areas declared under the Fisheries Resources (Jurisdiction and Conservation) Act, the Bahamas National Trust Act, and the Wild Birds Protection Act. The general purpose of the Fund is to ensure sustainable financing into perpetuity for the management of Protected Areas in The Bahamas, including management activities under the Caribbean Challenge Initiative and the objectives of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund related to any system of protected areas, programs established for the management of any area required for biodiversity conservation. the protection of any carbon sink under the Forestry Act, 2010, the conservation and protection of water resources, wetlands or blue holes, degraded or threatened ecosystems, as defined under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and any area which may be designated for the purpose of giving effect to international climate change agreements.
2019: The Environmental Planning and Protection Act was passed, outlining environmental plans, policies and provisions for environmental protection. The Environmental Planning and Protection Act oversees the activities of the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection, which is responsible for:
- Developing and implementing policies, programmers and plans for the effective management and conservation of the environment
- Developing a management plan for closed and environmentally sensitive areas in collaboration with other relevant agencies
- Developing a national conservation strategy
- Developing objectives and quality standards with respect to environmental protection
- The conservation and management of surface waters and wetlands
- The conservation of groundwater resources
- The promotion of conservation and the prevention of pollution and environmental degradation
- Public environmental awareness and education
- Enforcing compliance with this Act and any regulations made thereunder
- Administering and giving effect to any environmental policy to which this Act applies
- Regulating the review of Environmental Management Plans and Environmental Impact Assessments
- Fostering collaboration and communication among government agencies and relevant stakeholders regarding environmental planning and protection
- Consulting with any person or body outside the Department, local or otherwise, with respect to any matter or submission made under this Act
- Implementing an ecosystems approach that considers the unique and fundamental characteristics of ecosystems
Section 15 of The Environmental Planning and Protection Act features the National Environmental Policy Framework, which governs obligations of The Bahamas in relation to the international environmental agreements to which the country is a party
Section 18 of The Environmental Planning and Protection Act outlines the General duty to protect the environment. It states:
- Every person has a duty to maintain and protect the environment
- No person shall authorize or permit any activity that has an adverse effect on the environment
- Every person has a duty to inform the Director of any activity that may adversely impact the environment
Sections 20-23 of The Environmental Planning and Protection Act contains provisions for the protection of natural resources such as:
- Coral reefs
- The ozone layer
- Non-protected wildlife
- Environmentally sensitive areas and species
Sections 25-29 of The Environmental Planning and Protection Act contains provisions for pollution control
Sections 30-31 of The Environmental Planning and Protection Act contains provisions for controlling Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Substances
Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity
- Carnival Cruise Line, an international cruise line with headquarters in Doral, Florida, has decided to lease 329 acres of Bahamian land in an area known as Sharp Rock in East Grand Bahama. The area is considered an “eco-sensitive zone” and residents are concerned about Carnival’s track record, as the company has been caught dumping gray water into Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. One of the company’s cruise ships, Westerdam, illegally dumped 26,000 gallons of gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska in September of 2018 and failed to alert the authorities about the discharge. Other cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation illegally dumped more than 500,000 gallons of sewage and 11,000 gallons of food waste mixed with plastics and aluminum into the waters of the Bahamas, destroying vibrant ecosystems and habitats for thousands of species.
- Cruise ships in the Bahamas have come under fire of late, as officials have documented the negative effects of raw sewage and wastewater on coral reefs. Raw sewage contains bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that can cause intestinal, lung, and other infections.Such bacteria may also cause diarrhea, fever, cramps, and sometimes vomiting, headache, weakness, or loss of appetite. Protecting the environment is not only important to tourism but also the human health of The recently passed Environmental Planning and Protection Act contains provisions for a series of fines and penalties. The new law allows fines from $500 to $30 million and or imprisonment not exceeding ten years.
References and Further Reading
The Ministry of Environment and Housing: Romuald Sotario Ferreira, firstname.lastname@example.org or (242) 322-6027