For those headed to Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park (ECLSP) in the Bahamas, here’s your heads-up that the fee structure for visitors has changed.
This 232-square-mile park, which was designated as a no-take marine reserve in 1986, is increasing user fees to facilitate management of the park. User fees for the ECLSP will include an increase in existing mooring fees and the implementation of new fees for visiting researchers, film crews, dive operators and anchorage fees for boats longer than 90 feet. Yachts that frequent the ECLSP are encouraged to purchase either seasonal or annual anchorage passes and will receive a courtesy flag to display during visits. User fees for ECLSP took effect on Sept. 1. Revenue generated from these fees will assist the ECLSP to cover its annual operating expenses, upgrade park facilities, improve enforcement and increase education and outreach opportunities for communities in the Exuma Cays.
For those who don’t already know about ECLSP, it protects a wide variety of marine and terrestrial species including endangered and endemic plants, animals and their habitats. Research has shown that the ECLSP has healthy populations of commercially important species (e.g. queen conch, spiny lobster and Nassau grouper) that replenish other areas of The Bahamas.
The ECLSP is operated by the Bahamas National Trust, a non-profit organization charged with managing the national park system of The Bahamas, which currently consists of 27 parks and protected areas. ECLSP is the oldest national park in The Bahamas and is a fantastic place for kayaking, snorkeling, diving, birding, hiking and observing iguanas and other wildlife.
“With more than 100,000 acres of beaches, mangroves, reefs and ocean, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park is an ambitious and ongoing undertaking. By all accounts, the Park is a great success. Each year thousands of visitors snorkel healthy reefs and stroll along pristine beaches – helping to support thriving tourism-based businesses. However, these successes also present management challenges for our organization,” said Lynn Gape, Deputy Executive Director of the BNT.