First established more than fifty years ago in an effort to prevent the Exuma chain of islands from falling into private hands, the organisation in its modern incarnation has an even wider – and more ambitious – remit. Today it manages a grand total of 27 national parks across the Bahamas and claims to be the only non-government organisation of its kind anywhere in the world.
We sat down with Eric Carey, executive Director for the Bahamas National Trust, at the Monaco Yacht Show to find out more, and he began by putting into words the sheer beauty of the Bahamas and in particular the Exuma Land and Sea Park, one of the country’s most endangered areas.
“You can’t do it justice by talking about it, unfortunately. They’re just jewels, they’re just incredible places. The waters are amazing, there’s no waters more beautiful than in the Exuma Cays. The blues, greens, turquoise - crystal clear because we don’t have rivers polluting them. From space you can see the bottom of the ocean in the Bahamas,” he said.
So what are the actual threats that the area faces and what ambitions does the National Trust have to eradicate them?
“The very beauty that attracts people there is the thing that threatens it. Because so many people want to see it, boats want to come and develop the islands. Unmanaged access is always a threat, so that’s one of the things that we’re trying to carefully manage – where boats can anchor, whether they can discharge fluids, whether they can take their animals on shore on cays that have endangered iguanas, etc. So all of these things have to be balanced,” Mr Carey said.
He continued: “I have two ambitions. One is to help to convince the government of the Bahamas that we have to be here [in Monaco], big time. The government has made a commitment to looking more closely at the superyacht industry and we’re developing units within the ministry of tourism, we’re talking to the Bahamas maritime authority, we’re going to develop a registry. Bahamas has some of the most beautiful and interesting water so we do want more boats coming to enjoy.
“My second objective is to continue to keep the focus on the environment. People who come to places like the Bahamas come because it’s beautiful. If we want more people to come, we have to manage their impact. So my objective is to make sure that, as we develop the industry, the environment remains as a pillar.”
You can watch the full video interview with Eric Carey above this article.