NASSAU, The Bahamas — After many years in the making, the government has signed a lease agreement with the Bahamas National Trust to oversee the preservation of Seahorse National Park at Sweetings Pond, Eleuthera. Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, the Hon. Clay Sweeting made the announcement during a press conference held at the Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday, 7th September, 2023. He said that the project has been in the pipeline for many years.
“For consecutive governments and under the tenure of former Director of the Bahamas National Trust, Mr. Eric Carey, there have been considerable talks and efforts to getting us to this point. However, I am honored to be the Minister in the chair as this is my final act in this capacity as I pass the baton to incoming Minister, Jomo Campbell.”
He said that Sweetings Pond has been a treasure for Eleuthera for decades as it is a ‘unique and ecologically important’ site in Eleuthera as a natural inland saltwater pond that is connected to the ocean through the blue holes. A remarkable feature of the pond, he pointed out, was its high concentration of seahorses. It is also home to small reef fish and juvenile sharks. He said that the pond serves as a vital part of Eleuthera’s natural heritage.
He said that he understood the need for fully developed infrastructure in the islands that would provide opportunities and create industries and employment. He said, however, that the government was cognizant of the fact that it could not act alone and had to find strategic partnerships to work to the advantage of the Bahamian people. This agreement, he believes, is such a partnership.
He also spoke of the importance of conservation of the environment. “It is pertinent that we send a strong message of conservation, to protect the blue economy for years to come,” he said. “This seahorse park is phenomenal. Featured on National Geographic and aired globally, the world now knows that in this small body of water on the island of Eleuthera resides the largest concentration and species of seahorses in the entire world. With the assistance of the BNT, this destination can be protected, preserved and regulated so that natives and visitors can experience these phenomena safely so as to ensure the growth of the population of seahorses, as they have done with the land and sea park and other national sites around the country.”
He said the lease agreement aims to strike a balance between economic growth and environmental preservation, It provides guidelines and regulations for the sustainable use of Sweetings Pond, ensuring that its unique biodiversity and fragile ecosystem are protected for generations to come.
Executive Director of the BNT, Lakeisha Anderson Rolle, said that she and her team were excited to partner with the government in this venture.
After the three-year agreement, it is anticipated that the BNT will officially open the doors of the Seahorse National Park at Sweetings Pond. Sweetings Pond is a landlocked lagoon located just north of Hatchet Bay in Eleuthera.