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The Bahamas
Buchan, K.C. (2000). The Bahamas, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. pp. 415-433
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 934 pp., more

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Document type: Review

Keyword
    Marine

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  • Buchan, K.C.

Abstract
    The archipelago of the Bahamas contains the largest tropical shallow water area in the Western Atlantic. Located on the northern and eastern margins of two large submerged banks and a number of smaller more isolated banks, the Bahama Islands, of which there are over seven hundred, are low-lying and composed of limestone. A sub-tropical climate and a geographic position between two major warm ocean currents affect the region with seasonal variability which influences the biological communities inhabiting the ocean and coastal areas. The Bahama Banks are separated from the North American continent by the Florida Straits and from each other by deep channels, some in excess of 2000 m deep. Two deep water channels cut into the larger Great Bahama Bank. Most of the marine area is shallow (<20 m), resulting in an extremely important marine resource with both ecological and economic value. The Bahama Islands are dependent on their seas to maintain a GDP of US$ 2.7 billion through tourism and harvest of marine resources. To date, the fishing industry has benefited from the relatively high ecological productivity of the shallow banks and their related habitats. Commercially important fisheries resources include the Spiny Lobster, Conch and the Nassau Grouper which together make up the bulk of fisheries income. Clear warm waters and white sand beaches, along with its close proximity to the USA, make the Bahamas a prime tourist destination. Tourism is the mainstay of the Bahamian economy accounting for 60% of the countries Gross Domestic Product. Agricultural and forestry operations are limited and impacts in the coastal zone from these activities are negligible. However, land reclamation and construction for tourism development, along with sand mining, dredging, over-fishing, poor fishing practices and their respective impacts of habitat loss, beach erosion and over-exploitation of target and non-target marine resources are becoming increasingly apparent as development pressures grow. Environmental regulations are in place through a number of parliamentary Acts. Management of established marine and coastal protected areas has been undertaken by the Bahamas National Trust who, along with other organisations, carry out environmental education programs to increase awareness and reduce impact on the marine and coastal areas of the archipelago.

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