Protecting Abaco’s Tidal Creeks and Flats

Snake Cay Creek, part of an extensive network of wetlands connected by marine blue holes, is an important source of juvenile marine life to the Sandy Cay Reef. Photo provided by FRIENDS OF ABACO.

Bahamas-wide, scientists have estimated as much as eighty percent of the seafood we eat utilizes wetlands as nursery habitats. Yet despite their vast importance, these ecosystems are largely underrepresented in Bahamian protected areas.  Abaco’s flats and tidal creeks are important for fisheries, recreation and eco-tourism. Without them, our marine species would suffer, as would our quality of life.  As development and population pressures continue to grow, we must select key habitats to protect as a proactive measure to ensure a sustainable future for our marine resources.

Friends of the Environment has partnered with The Bahamas National Trust and The Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association, as well as local communities to propose two areas in Abaco for protection. Recreational activities such as fishing and conching will still be permitted in both these areas once the proposals are approved.

The East Abaco Creeks is an extensive network of wetlands hydraulically connected by marine blue holes. This system includes Snake Cay Creek, The Bight of Old Robinson and the Cherokee Creeks. The proximity of these wetlands to the Pelican Cay’s Land and Sea Park suggests that they are an important source of juvenile marine life to the Sandy Cay Reef, which is part of the National Park. The East Abaco Creeks themselves have been proposed as a National Park, an official proposal was submitted to government through The Bahamas National Trust last year.

Cross Harbour is a wetland area in south west Abaco commonly used by fly fishermen. A restoration project in this area in 2006 restored approximately 150 acres of habitat. The Abaco Fly Fishing Guides Association (AFFGA) has proposed that this area be declared a no-build, or conservation zone. By partnering with AFFGA, and other groups, FRIENDS hopes to raise awareness of these important areas to Bahamians. Fly-fishing brings in approximately $5 million annually to Abaco alone. Cross Harbour is therefore a significant contributor to our economy, as well as our culture and environment.

Both of these areas provide what scientists call “ecosystem services” these are basically benefits garnered by maintaining a healthy and intact ecosystem or habitat. This includes nursery habitat for juvenile marine species, nesting and roosting habitat for birds, and shoreline protection during storms and flooding. As long as these ecosystem services are in place, Abaco will also gain from economic benefits through fisheries exports and local sales, eco-tourism and Bahamian cultural activities.

For more information about these wetlands and how you can help, please contact Friends of the Environment at, or visit our website: