epic tiger shark diving expeditions
plastic ocean pollution

Bahamas to ban plastic and styrofoam

A new task force has been created in the Bahamas to ban all single use plastics and styrofoam by 2020. This includes things like plastic bags, straws, food utensils, and the ubiquitous styrofoam takeout containers.

The task force is made up of The Ministry of Tourism, The Ministry of Health, The Ministry of Finance, The Customs Department, The University of The Bahamas, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Federation (BCCEC), The Bahamas Plastic Movement, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Atlantis Paradise Island and Baha Mar Ltd.

The Bahamas will join a growing list of over 40 countries that have already, or are in the process of banning these products. Such bans are critical to reducing waste and pollution. Typically used for only 15 minutes, these items take between 500 – 1000 years to break down in land fills. In addition, they have created a dire situation of ocean pollution. It affects the health of animals, humans, and the environment.

Questions & Answers

  • Why is a Single-Use Plastics and Styrofoam Ban important to The Bahamas?

Plastic and Styrofoam waste affects human health, animals, and the environment. The overuse of plastics and Styrofoam has resulted in the widespread pollution and contamination of our environment that threatens our marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Often found scattered as litter throughout our communities and left on public beaches particularly after holiday festivities, plastic and Styrofoam litter diminishes the beauty of our islands which attracts millions of tourists annually. At the current rate of plastic pollution, The Bahamas Plastic Movement estimates that it could cause The Bahamas up to $8.5 million in tourism losses annually; a lost we cannot afford!

  • When will the ban be in effect?

The Ministry of Environment and Housing created a taskforce comprising of The Ministry of Tourism, The Ministry of Health, The Ministry of Finance, The Customs Department, The University of The Bahamas, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Federation (BCCEC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Atlantis Paradise Island and Baha Mar Ltd., to advance an inclusive national campaign to phase out single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws, food utensils and Styrofoam containers by 2020.

  • What is the timeline for the phased ban?

The Ministry of Environment and Housing will embark on nation-wide public consultation and education campaign. Public input from these meetings will be used to develop a manageable phase-out plan with the target deadline of January 1st, 2020.

  • What does this project mean for the management of the New Providence Landfill and RFP Process?

Due to our isolated archipelago nature, condensed populations and tourist dominated economy, we are challenged with finding effective solutions to solid waste management. Rethinking solid waste management, this ban provides an opportunity to reduce plastic and Styrofoam waste sent to landfills which although used for approximately 15 minutes, take between 500 and 1000 years to break down. This is the first step towards developing a national waste management strategy for The Bahamas.

  • How will this ban impact food and retail outlets?

The Ministry of Environment and Housing will conduct two rounds of public consultations with retail outlets, restaurants, and hotels. Feedback gathered will assist the Ministry in developing an alternative list that meets the demand and needs of businesses.

  • Will the government reduce duty and Value Added Tax?

Customs and Finance have representatives on the Task Force and we are working with them to outline the correct protocol to reduce taxes on approved alternatives and to improve incentives for business operations. During the first round of consultations, we will be asking for the public input on proposed incentive options and approved product alternatives.

  • Will the public be involved in this process?

There will be two rounds of public consultations. The first round is projected to start at the end of April with businesses operations, environmental groups and town hall meetings.

Family Island consultations first round will start mid-June and during the summer the team will conduct a Summer Camp Crawl to engage students during the break.

At the end of the first round, we will compile all recommendations for alternatives and incentives and have a comprehensive piece of legislation for final comments.

  • When can we expect to see any legislation for this ban?

Without any unforeseen setbacks, our target deadline is the end of August after we have completed all first round consultations.

plastic ocean pollution
image used under Creative Commons: MichaelisScientists
bahamas china

Bahamas considering $2.1 Billion deal with China

The government of The Bahamas has given the green light to its embassy in Beijing, China, to further pursue a possible agriculture and fisheries partnership with the Chinese

The deal reportedly with pump $2.1 billion into the Bahamian economy over a period of 10 years as an equal partnership between Bahamians and the People’s Republic of China. Here are some of the details of the proposal:

  • the incorporation of 100 Bahamian companies under the Companies Act of 1992, each of which would be owned 50-50 by both China and by Bahamians or Bahamian entities
  • China would contribute to the 100 companies $2.1 billion in cash for working capital, agricultural and farming equipment, as well as skilled expertise.
  • Bahamas government would lease to all 100 companies 10,000 acres of Crown land in Andros, with lease renewal options available.
  • each company could lease an additional 100 acres of land if certain benchmarks are achieved.
  • Bahamas government would also grant each of the companies fishing licenses within the current Bahamian laws.

While realization of a reasonable return on an investiment in agriculture is a relatively slow process, requiring substantial capitalization over many years, participating companies in the initiative will within months of commencement of operations realize positive cash flow from the sale of seafood.

The government has stated that no foreigner will be allowed to physically fish in Bahamian waters and therefore only Bahamians would be allow on the fishing vessels.

This sounds like a terrible idea and inevitable exploitation of the country’s national resources.  Please take a quick second and follow this link to the Petition site where you can help reach the goal of 10,000 signatures!

Care 2 Petitions

We the undersigned call upon Prime Minister Christie to cancel any and all negotiations on the proposed Chinese Fishing/Agriculture venture and to keep fishing 100% for Bahamians. Additionally we urge that crown lands be granted to Bahamians for farming and that the back log of applications for crown lands be assessed as a matter of priority.

bahamas china

Source: China in $2 bil. deal proposal

hurricane matthew

Hurricane Matthew Grand Bahama: West End Relief Effort

hurricane matthew grand bahama island damage Hurricane Matthew, Grand Bahama

We were sad to hear of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew as it raked through the Bahamas last week.  Grand Bahama Island, and specifically the West End, was hit particularly hard as the storm passed directly over the region.  The local community suffered complete destruction and countless homes were lost due to the high winds and extensive flooding.  Thankfully, there were no deaths reported.

An extensive clean-up is currently underway and the relief efforts are expected to take months.

We have been encouraged by the positive response and the number of divers willing to help out and donate in any way they can.  There are several options for this:

Hurricane Matthew Grand Bahama Relief

Money donations can be made directly here.  Were looked into several crowd-funding resources and each add additional service or administrative fees.  Since we will be dealing directly with members of the West End community, we will be able to ensure that 100% of the funds receive will be passed directly into the local community with no additional fees placed on top.




You can donate any amount you feel comfortable with…every dollar helps! We’d like to offer the following rewards for those making donations:

If you are able to donate physical goods/items, there are several drop off locations located in Florida.

The items in greatest need are:

power-lines hurricane matthew grand bahama island

  • Basic survival items, such as canned food, baby food, juice boxes, and water.
  • Medical supplies, including gauze, bandages, and antiseptic. Another big need is bug spray and citronella candles to fend off mosquitoes.
  • They are also in need of clothing and shoes for adults and children, diapers, baby wipes, personal hygiene items, and feminine products.
  • Lastly, we are looking for basic tools and shelter supplies including tarps, nails, duct tape, hammers, rope, batteries, flashlights, generators, power cords, and boxes/containers to consolidate items.


Stuart Jet Center
2501 SE Aviation Way
Stuart, FL 34996
Contact Patrick Price at 772-405-0091.

flooding hurricane matthew matthew grand bahama island

Tequesta:
Jupiter Tequesta AC
582 N US Hwy 1
Tequesta, FL 33469

Lantana:
X-Generation Custom Rods
410 N Dixie Highway
Lantana, Florida 33462
Contact Seth Funt at 561-445-4694.

Fort Lauderdale:
Broward Design Center Warehouse
795 East Sunrise
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Contact Maxine Gomez at 954-779-6398.

structure-damage hurricane matthew grand bahama relief

Hurricane Matthew Grand Bahama Island Relief

 

In early September 2019, tragedy struck again and Hurricane Dorian stalled over Grand Bahama and Abaco for nearly 2 days. A relief fund has been set up.

relaxing bahamas beach

A Bit About Cat Island

Map of Cat Island, Bahamas

Map of Cat Island, Bahamas

Cat Island is located in the central Bahamas. Considered one of the family islands, Cat Island is home to just over 1,600 people. The island is about 48 miles long and spans from one to four miles across, encompassing an area of 150 square miles. Cat Island was named after Arthur Cat, a pirate who visited the island many times. For hundreds of years, however, the island was called San Salvador and was thought to be Columbus’ first landfall in the New World. In 1926, Watlings Island was redesignated San Salvador and the name Cat Island was used once again. It is sometimes confused with Cat Cay, much closer to the east coast of the United States.

New Bight Airport, The Bight (TBI)

New Bight Airport, The Bight (TBI)

There are two airports on Cat Island. New Bight Airport, or The Bight, (TBI) is located in the islands capital, at it’s center. Arthur’s Town (ATC) is the airport in the north. Both are quite small and are no more than an airstrip, a one room air conditioned building with a check in counter, waiting room and restroom facilities. When traveling to Cat Island to dive with Epic Diving, you’ll need to make sure you book your ticket to and get off the plane at New Bight Airport. Your luggage should be tagged with the airport code TBI. Once you land, there are taxi cabs available to take to the resort. With only two daily flights, chances are you’ll run into other divers on the plane and share the ride to Greenwood Resort. The cab ride is about $70 for the first 1-2 people with an extra charge for more divers and loads of luggage.

the-hermitage

The Hermitage sits atop Como Hill, the highest elevation in all of the Bahamas

Cat Island boasts several historical landmarks and is home to the nation’s highest elevation. Como Hill raises to 206 feet above sea level. At the top, you’ll find The Hermitage, a monastery built in 1939 by Father Jerome. He also renamed Como Hill to Mount Alvernia after La Verna, the hill in Tuscany where St. Francis of Assisi received the Wounds of the Cross. From it’s peak, you can easily see both the east and west coasts of the island as well as an aerial view of New Bight. In the quaint settlement of Port Howe, you can find the remains of the plantation home of Colonel Andrew Deveaux. Deveaux, who was born in South Carolina, sailed to the Bahamas in 1783 and recaptured the Bahamas from Spain, with an army of just 220 men and an arsenal of only 150 muskets. Another major attraction on Cat Island is the Big Blue Hole located off Dickies Road in the North. This Blue Hole is quite deep and often has strong undercurrents leading to the sea. Many objects thrown in have reached the ocean though the system’s passageways. Also off Dickies Road is the Griffen Bat Cave. Once a hideout for slaves, this cave is now home to thousands of bats. Stand at it’s opening at sunset and you’ll hear, feel, and see the bats emerge.

Cat Island Ship Wreck

Cat Island Ship Wreck

There’s not much in the way of industry on Cat Island. Most locals live off the land and sea, some working as slash and burn farmers and others as fisherman. The island sees little tourism and has no large scale resorts. There are a number of picturesque hotels and inns that truly invite you to rest, relax, and enjoy.

oceanic whitetip shark cat island bahamas shark diving

Oceanic Whitetip Shark Diving, Cat Island Bahamas

Epic Diving has been traveling to Cat Island for the oceanic whitetip shark diving season since 2010. We primarily dive on the south side of the island, which is where the hotel and dive boat are located. Our oceanic whitetip shark diving season runs from March through June. We typically encounter several oceanic whitetip sharks each dive day and have also had the chances to see other species such as caribbean reef shark, nurse sharks, great hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks silky sharks, dusky sharks, blue sharks and even whale sharks. Drift diving out in the blue water with the oceanic whitetips, you never know what will show up. We’ve seen big schools of tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi or dorado, and even blue and white marlin! The dives are always exciting. While we focus mainly on the blue water shark encounters, some of the walls and reefs of Cat Island are pristine and mostly untouched. Here you can see some incredible corals and sponges as well as the usual cast of characters. Moray eels, turtles, grouper, lobster and crab…you can find it all.

Cat Island has something to offer people of all ages and interests.  Take in the sights, learn some history, enjoy local cuisine, or just kick back and relax on a secluded beach.  For more information about Cat Island and all it has to offer, visit The Out Islands of the Bahamas website.

Visit Cat Island, Bahamas

Epic Diving wins 2014 Best Tour Operator Award

Epic Diving Receives 2014 Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award

Epic Diving wins 2014 Best Tour Operator Award

West Palm Beach Award Program Honors the Achievement

West Palm Beach, November 21, 2014 — Epic Diving has been selected for the 2014 Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award in the Tours category by the Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program.

Each year, the Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the West Palm Beach area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2014 Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About the Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program

The Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the West Palm Beach area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Best Businesses of West Palm Beach Award Program

scholarship community give back epic diving

Epic Diving Scholarship

scholarship community give back epic diving

Two graduating high school seniors received full tuition scholarships for further eduction

Epic Diving Scholarship Program

O

ne to three high school seniors will have the opportunity for an expense paid education at The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) in the Bahamas.

World Wide Web – March 14, 2014 The grant is a onetime payment that leads to certification in a trade at The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI). The fundraiser hosted by Epic Diving Scholarships and will be awarded in August of this year. The scholarship may be applied to tuition, books and on-campus housing.

The Epic Diving Scholarship Committee will determine who it will allow to choose a program of study at BTVI. Students will earn a certificate which will take six to twelve months to complete. Depending on how much money is raised, one, two, or even three grants can be awarded. Funds available for the grant may be anywhere between six hundred to two thousand dollars. This money will cover tuition and the tools (hammers, drills, etc.) that the students need to complete the course. Some of the trades students are encouraged to explore are:

  • Plumbing
  • Carpentry
  • Construction
  • Electrical installation
  • Cosmetology
  • Interior decoration

With major construction developments in the works for Cat Island, the grants will guarantee that the young people residing in Cat Island will be able to find meaningful employment once they have professional skills. The two requirements of applying for the grants are a minimum cumulative grade point average for previous academic work. Applicants must be a citizen of the Bahamas and a resident of Cat Island, graduating in the current year.

2015 Goal15%




bahamas shark sanctuary

Bahamas Shark Sanctuary

C

elebrating one year since the government of the Bahamas announced that all commercial shark fishing in the approximately 630,000 square kilometers (243,244 square miles) of the country’s waters is now prohibited, establishing a national Bahamas Shark Sanctuary.

bahamas shark sanctuary

Sharks are now protected against commercial fishing in all the waters surrounding the Bahamas.

The Bahamas National Shark Sanctuary permanently protects more than 40 shark species in Bahamian waters.

bnt bahamas national trust bahamas shark sanctuary

Epic Diving participates in town hall meeting with the Bahamas National Trust

shark conservation bahamas shark sanctuary

Locals on Cat Island sign the petition to help establish the Bahamas National Sanctuary

Read more about the sanctuary on PEW’s website.

Thanks again to all those involved in this legislation!

Bahamas Shark Sanctuary