Since the release of its last statement on proposed oil exploration in The Bahamas, The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) has closely followed the national and international discussion on this issue. A growing number of Bahamians are clearly opposed to and not willing to accept the risks associated with an oil industry in The Bahamas. The prevailing view is there is simply too much at stake.

As a staunch defender of the Bahamian environment, the BNT is categorically opposed to oil exploration in The Bahamas. The BNT stands with every Bahamian speaking out against proposed oil exploration in our ocean nation.

Bahamian communities rely on healthy ocean ecosystems to support jobs in fishing, recreation, and tourism. The oil industry’s track record in often failing to protect the environment effectively makes such developments too big a risk to be allowed in our fragile ocean nation.

An oil spill can irreversibly damage our oceans, threaten our tourism industry, and our very way of life. The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster proves that no amount of reward from oil drilling is worth the risks of a potential disaster.

The proposed initial well by BPC is incredibly close to the Cay Sal Bank, one of the most ecologically productive and economically important marine systems in the country.

The Cay Sal Bank Marine Protected Area (MPA) was declared a protected area by the Bahamas Government in September 2015.  The Cay Sal MPA protects thriving marine life inclusive of commercially important species, most notably one of the last remaining viable populations of the queen conch. This large MPA also protects crucial marine mammal habitats, coral reefs, seagrass meadows and open ocean ecosystems.

Eric Carey, Executive Director, Bahamas National Trust: “The importance of the Cay Sal Bank for biodiversity and the fishing industry in The Bahamas cannot be overstated. Because of its critical importance, any pollution of the area would be devastating for The Bahamas, our fishing industry, and the country’s food security.”

Tourism is the top economic driver of The Bahamas. We risk turning our coastal tourist destination into an oil nation. The nation’s tourism industry relies on clean, swimmable waters and healthy ocean ecosystems to thrive. Oil drilling and exploration threaten clean coastal economies.

Furthermore, The Bahamas is known to be one of the most vulnerable nations on the planet to the impending impacts of climate change, which is now recognized as an existential threat to The Bahamas. The country, our people, and our way of life could disappear if we are not successful as a global community in reversing the factors of a changing climate.

The Bahamas has stood in the presence of the United Nations, demanding urgent action to combat climate change. We cannot therefore cry out to the world that our country is being severely threatened by climate change, and still allow the exploration for fossils fuels, one of the main drivers of climate change on the planet.

The country would be sending a careless signal of hypocrisy to the world. The benefits of fossil fuels are finite and insignificant compared to the cost of global climate change. We should not compound the damage of increased storm activity and sea levels due to global climate change with the risks associated with oil exploration. Drilling for oil would require us to ignore the damage of Hurricane Dorian and other storms. We would be overlooking the harm done to Grand Bahama in the Equinor spill. We would be turning a blind eye to obvious risks to our own well-being.

It is blatantly clear that The Bahamas’ livelihood and survival depends on healthy oceans. Oil drilling poses a threat to our ocean nation. The BNT is extremely apprehensive about advancing oil exploration in the country. The BNT rejects oil drilling and chooses our oceans.

Levy Preserve