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Bimini EIA: Nearby fishing activities must ‘cease’

EIA suggest minimal overall impact to fisheries resources, prescribes monitoring
ALISON LOWE
Guardian Business Editor
alison@nasguard.com

Published: Oct 28, 2013

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The EIA supporting the North Bimini Ferry Terminal has proposed that any impacts to existing and future fisheries resources around the island will be mitigated in part by advising local fishermen to cease fishing within a mile of the proposed construction site and for 10 years around a proposed artificial reef location.

Meanwhile, monitoring and the success of mitigation efforts in terms of impacts on fisheries will involve conducting interviews with “at least 10 fishermen annually for a period of 10 years” and it is proposed that an environmental manager will visit “the local fish market” to assess the amount of fish available.

In a section on “fisheries harvest monitoring”, the EIA addendum, prepared by Blue Engineering, states that impacts to existing and future fisheries that are anticipated during the construction phase of the Ferry Terminal are “mainly seafood demands from construction workers and tourists”, rather than any indirect impact of the construction itself.

“Otherwise impacts are anticipated to be minimal as no significant fishing normally takes place at the proposed ferry terminal site.

“Nonetheless, notifications advising local fishermen that their fishing activities must cease within a mile of the proposed construction site should be posted.”

Notifications will also be posted to advise local fishermen that their fishing activities must cease at the artificial reef location for 10 years other than to remove invasive species such as lionfish in order to allow delicate coral transplants to catch as well as for the health of the new artificial reef.

This artificial reef composed of transplanted corals has been proposed to mitigate the impact of the terminal on 14 reefs in the vicinity of the terminal.

The EIA calls for the impact, if any, of the ferry terminal project on the regular harvest of fishermen to be determined in part by “visits to the local fish market monthly throughout the construction phase of the project to document yields and approximate locations of all catches.

“Commercial fishermen are also presently required to possess a ‘catch certificate’ to monitor their catches so that all seafood exports are certified. Data from these certificates will also be reviewed to determine if fishing patterns have been altered by this project.”

“Results from on-the-ground interviews with local and commercial fisherman will be tabulated and submitted to the BEST Commission.

“If a decline is observed, and equated to the Bimini Bay Ferry Terminal project/arrivals resulting from the ferry service, mitigation measures will be discussed and implemented in coordination with the BEST Commission.”

Mitigation measures suggested should there turn out to be an impact on fisheries resources as a result of the Resorts World Bimini project, according to the EIA, are implementing a reduction in the amount of local seafood served at Bimini Bay restaurants and an increase in imported seafood, the establishment of Fisheries Councils to “limit catch”, or the establishment of “an aquaculture presence” in or near Bimini.

Last week, Guardian Business confirmed that Resorts World Bimini has received a construction permit for the North Bimini Ferry Terminal, which is to be constructed at a cost of $10 million to $15 million in order to allow easy disembarkation of passengers arriving into Bimini on the company’s superfast ferry service from Miami. The ship has the capacity to bring around 1,500 visitors to the island a day, providing a significant economic boost in terms of money spent in the local economy and employment.


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