By Chamon McIntosh, BESS Scholar & FRIENDS Intern
The first line of protection from the sea is our coast. It protects us from bad weather, flooding, and storm surge. Although it protects us from these dangers, and many more, our coasts face some serious challenges as well. Some of the greatest threats to Bahamian coastal areas are pollution, invasive species, and habitat destruction. In The Bahamas, April is dedicated to combating the problems that harm our coastal environments, which is why this month has be declared Coastal Awareness Month.
Each year, a different theme is chosen to help raise awareness of our coastal environment. This year the theme is Overfishing. Not only do our coastlines protect us from danger, they also provide us with a source of food. Nearly 80% of the seafood eaten in The Bahamas, grows up in coastal mangrove wetlands. The majority of the Bahamian coastline is made up of or sheltered by mangrove wetlands. If these threats are allowed to continue, habitats will become damaged and there will be no fish left to replenish the sea. We must do all we can to stop the destruction of habitats and coastal areas to ensure sustainable fisheries in our Bahamian waters.
There are several events on the calendar this month in Abaco where you can participate and help make a difference for Coastal Awareness. On April 2nd, you can join in on the cleanup at Coconut Tree Bay in Murphy Town; on the 9th a shoreline cleanup is planned for Marsh Harbour’s harbour as well as Crossing Beach; on the 14th join Friends of the Environment for the Earth Day Science Fair at New Vision Ministries; the 27th is Coastal Awareness T-shirt Day and local businesses and other groups have a chance to show their support; and finally on the 30th, another clean up at Coconut Tree Bay in Murphy Town.Schools and other community groups will also be organizing independent cleanups around the island. If you are in the area, we encourage you to take participate in one of the many events.