December 23, 2022
An aerial view of dredging and mangrove removal on Windermere Island.
Residents of Savannah Sound, Eleuthera, have alerted Bonefish & Tarpon Trust that a development on Windermere Island has likely dredged and removed mangroves to make space for a marina. Aerial photos and video provided to BTT show a large excavator at work, supporting the concerns of these residents.
BTT has identified habitat loss and degradation as the greatest threat to the sustainability of the flats fishery in The Bahamas, which produces $169 million annually and benefits thousands of Bahamians. Additionally, the reported loss of mangroves comes at a time when BTT and partners are working to restore and conserve mangroves, which provide an array of ecosystem benefits, including the protection of coastal communities from damaging storms.
Savannah Sound is a biodiverse flats ecosystem located on the east side of the island and a prime location for bonefish. Locally, flats fishing generates nearly $17 million annually for the island. The large barrier island, Windermere, protects Savannah Sound and creates the unique environment found there, from the large flats and mangrove system in the inner bay to the significant coral reef system located just offshore. The Sound has also been identified as an important juvenile habitat area for a variety of commercially important species, including mutton snapper, lobster, conch, and bonefish. The loss of habitat in Savannah Sound due to this development could displace the bonefish population and cause a decline of other economically important species that local fishermen, bonefish guides, and ecotour operators depend on for their livelihoods.
BTT is concerned about the reports from Windermere Island and is working with local partners and appropriate agencies to learn more about this suspected dredging and removal of mangroves. We oppose unsustainable development that negatively impacts the country’s inshore ecosystem and will collaborate with partners on a resolution at Windermere Island.
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