At the 2018 Our Ocean Conference in October, representatives from nations around the world and hundreds of marine conservationists gathered, as the Marine Conservation Institute announced that the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park in The Bahamas had earned a Platinum Global Ocean Refuge Award.
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park joins a prestigious group of 10 marine protected areas (MPAs) that comprise the Global Ocean Refuge System. They meet the highest science-based standards for biodiversity protection and best practices for management and enforcement.
Marine Conservation Institute awards Global Ocean Refuge status to MPAs like the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park for actively protecting the world’s most valuable and biodiverse ocean habitats, sustaining marine biodiversity and increasing populations of marine life. The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park joins a growing network of Global Ocean Refuges that will contribute to reaching strong protection for 30 percent of the ocean’s most critical places by 2030. The Institute’s objective for the award is to bring special recognition to nations, decision makers and site managers who effectively protect their marine ecosystems and to incentivize better ocean protection worldwide.
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP) serves as an ecological refuge to numerous plant, coral and animal species due to its relatively undisturbed coral reef, mangrove and seagrass bed ecosystems. In an archipelago of many islands and surrounding reefs, this MPA stands out for strong protection and careful management. The ECLSP is one of 32 national parks managed by the Bahamas National Trust, a non-governmental organization created by an Act of Parliament to manage national parks.
“The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park highlights the ability of a well-managed marine park to not only preserve the beauty of an area, but also to provide critical protection for marine life to maintain the delicate balance, and health of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems,” said Eric Carey, executive director, The Bahamas National Trust. “It also shows how no marine protected area is an island, and how outside factors, whether they be increasing sea temperatures or unsustainable fishing, can affect the ability of the park to safeguard the species and habitats within it. The Bahamas is currently addressing these issues by expanding its system of MPAs to build a network of MPAs that will replenish each other and surrounding areas, sustainably protect marine ecosystems and key species within them, while allowing human access and uses that are compatible with the goals of sustainability. The ECLSP was the springboard that created the awareness of how important it is to protect and conserve our marine environment. The Bahamas National Trust is honored to be recognized by the Global Ocean Refuge System. There is no greater honor than to be recognized by the scientific community and peer management agencies.”
Visit globaloceanrefuge.org to learn more about Global Ocean Refuges.