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Family Island News
Immediate school closure in some Family Islands
Submitted by Nikki Bethell   
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 11:48

NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Ministry and Department of Education wish to inform the residents of Exuma, Cat Island, San Salvador, and Rum Cay that school will close at 12noon today until further notice. School administrators, teachers and school staff will take directives from their respective District Superintendents and we will advise parents and students when children are to return to school.

We encourage the public to listen to newscasts and to also refer to the Ministry of Eduation’s Facebook page for additional updates. On Facebook, search for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Bahamas.

Pre-paid cards hit North Andros to the delight of locals
Submitted by BIS   
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 07:53

MORGAN’S BLUFF, North Andros – North Andros became the first Family Island community to receive Pre-Paid Visa Cards Tuesday, when 168 clients who have qualified for the Department of Social Services Food Assistance Programme received their cards “fully loaded and ready to be used immediately.”

Criteria for qualification for the Food Assistance Programme include those persons enduring genuine economic hardships, low-income wage earners, senior citizens, persons with disabilities on a fixed income who do not have other means of support, and the unemployed.

“If you want to leave here at the conclusion of this ceremony and utilize your cards, you are free to do so because the cards have already been loaded for your use,” Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin told residents to a resounding round of applause.

“While the card can be used at any authorized merchant within The Bahamas, I would like to encourage you to use the card in your community (as) not only was it designed to empower you as the beneficiary, but also the local community,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Tuesday’s launch in Morgan’s Bluff, allows the Government of The Bahamas, through the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development and the Department of Social Services, to move another step closer towards its goal of ensuring that Bahamians needing assistance have access to that assistance in a more timely, efficient and dignified manner.

MOT, NAS and BNT partner for world-class bird watching training workshop
Submitted by Kendea Smith   
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 07:38

ANDROS, The Bahamas -- The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT), the National Audubon Society (NAS) and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently held a special bird watching training workshop in Central Andros to help train persons looking to get involved in this new, lucrative niche market.

The $2.6 billion project – funded by the Inter-American Development Bank – partners with local NGOs in Belize, The Bahamas, Guatemala and Paraguay to utilise the bird-watching market to create sustainable jobs in communities while simultaneously protecting biodiversity and natural resources.

According to officials, The Bahamas has the perfect sites for bird watching to take advantage of the $82 billion industry, which is growing at approximately eight per cent a year with an expenditure of $17 billion.

Director of Industry Training in the Ministry of Tourism Ian Ferguson said MOT is extremely excited to be a part of the programme.

“I believe the Ministry of Tourism and the Industry Training Department’s role in particular is ultimately to prepare Bahamians and persons living in The Bahamas to be more equipped to serve and deliver impactful tours and experiences for our visitors,” he said.

Why no North Bimini marine reserve?
Submitted by Gail Woon   
Friday, 25 September 2015 09:42
NBMR (GW Golf Course Site 4):  Endangered Green Sea Turtle in the mangroves at the north end of the North Sound.  This area is slated for complete destruction to create a golf course.EARTHCARE asks, “With the establishment of 18 new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) being hailed as an important victory in the ongoing fight to protect the unique ecological heritage of The Bahamas, why then, was one of the 19 proposed MPAs, specifically the North Bimini Marine Protected Area (NBMR), omitted from the designation?”

In January of 2000, North Bimini was listed as the “HIGHEST PRIORITY” site in the entire country for an MPA. North Bimini, along with 4 other sites, were deemed as the first 5 MPA’s to be established, and the goal was to have all 5 of these sites fully protected by 2002.

In January of 2009, a Town Meeting was held at the Bimini All Age School to discuss Bimini’s MPA and the findings of the recently finished Black & Veatch report, which summarized the past and current scope of the Bimini Bay Project (now Resorts World Bimini). During this meeting, Phillip Weech from the BEST Commission announced to the people in attendance that the NBMR had been officially declared. There were over 100 people in attendance, and the meeting was widely publicized in national and international media outlets. The declaration of the NBMR was reported in media outlets ranging from National Geographic to the Washington Post, and many, many others.

During this meeting, it was also clearly stated that a golf course would not be allowed to go forward. In discussing the golf course after the meeting, it was widely referred to as a “dead issue.”

From November, 2012 to the present, dozens & dozens of emails and letters have been sent to Minister Wilchcombe, Minister Dorsett, and Minister V. Alfred Gray concerning this matter, yet none of them have offered any information or answers in return. During this time, the golf course has also reappeared in the marketing for Resorts World Bimini.

Bimini’s Wahoo Smackdown VII introduces exciting, expanded format
Submitted by John Bell   
Wednesday, 16 September 2015 06:41

Wahoo Smackdown VII Tournament Director Misty Wells.ALICE TOWN, Bimini — Chasing wahoo in November has become an annual ritual in Bimini with anglers competing for bragging rights and thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. The Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina, which for several seasons has hosted the popular Wahoo Smackdown Tournament series, is adding new species categories, youth and women’s divisions and an open bounty of $1,000 for anyone breaking the current IGFA all tackle Bahamas record for a wahoo.

Wahoo Smackdown VII, scheduled for November 12-14, will be a “must fish” weekend for anglers with a chance to make fishing history and earn a cash bonus, according to Tournament Director Misty Wells.

In addition to cash prize for a record wahoo catch, Wells said women are being encouraged to participate, and she will waive the entry fee for the first all-women team to register—a tournament first.

Last November, the Wahoo Smackdown tournament attracted a record 29 boats. Team “Cash Out” took heaviest fish honors with 47.6 pounds. Heaviest five fish over two days trophy went to team “Fishin A Loan”, and Heaviest Fish (First Day) winners were team “Snow Cone’s Revenge.”

Government ministers attend Town Meeting in Exuma
Submitted by BIS   
Friday, 11 September 2015 15:36

Flanked by members of the Exuma and Exuma Cays Local Government Council are area Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. Anthony Moss (3rd from left); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, the Hon. Philip Brave Davis; Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Hon. Fred Mitchell; and Health Minister, Hon. Perry Gomez. They were in Exuma on the 10th September to update residents on government initiatives during the Local Government sponsored Annual Town Hall Meeting.EXUMA, The Bahamas -- More than 300 residents of Exuma and the Cays attended the Exuma District Council’s Annual Town Meeting on the evening of September 10, 2015. Representatives for local government districts, Cabinet Ministers of the Government of the Bahamas, and the Member of Parliament for Exuma, had the opportunity to speak to residents in Georgetown.

Exuma’s Chief Councillor and others went over community announcements, accomplishments and budget allocations for the current fiscal period.

The floor was then given to national Government leaders to update residents on issues of concern on the island, including infrastructure, healthcare, and immigration. The opportunity to participate in this forum reiterates the Government’s commitment to communication with residents. This commitment is aligned with the Government initiative to build a Stronger Bahamas, for a safe, prosperous and modern future.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development the Honourable Phillip Brave Davis highlighted numerous infrastructure projects that are ongoing in Exuma and the Cays as well as informing residents of the state-of-the-art mini-hospital that is soon to open on the island. He also noted that Urban Renewal will begin to coordinate programs for residents in Exuma, which was received with great applause by the crowd. The Deputy Prime Minister stated that modernizing and upgrading the Moss Town airport was also a key priority for the Government. He concluded by stating that Exuma continues to show enormous growth potential, and the Government must serve as a facilitator of that growth and not a barrier.

Big game divers at Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina to host 'Great Hammerhead Weeks' dive encounters
Submitted by John Bell   
Tuesday, 08 September 2015 14:33

ALICE TOWN, Bimini — The Bimini Big Game Club Divers is designating four weeks—from December to March—as “Great Hammerhead Weeks” for divers to have a bucket list opportunity to get up close and personal with these elegant creatures.

The endangered and elusive Great Hammerhead—the second largest predatory shark in the ocean— will be returning to the sand banks off the tiny Bahamas out-island of Bimini starting in December 2015.

Great Hammerhead encounters are considered the pinnacle of shark diving in the Bahamas, and Bimini is one of only two places in the world where you will find a congregation of these elusive animals, which can grow to 20 feet or more.

“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Corey Wood, Operations Manager at Big Game Divers. “These weeks are excellent for underwater photographers, videographers, and GoPro enthusiasts to get exceptional photos and video of these amazing animals.”

Bimini Big Game Divers will operate two Great Hammerhead dives daily for designated weeks of December 11-18, 2015, and January 1-8, February 5-12 and March 8-18, 2016. For reservations and booking information contact the Big Game Dive Shop at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Deployment of family medicine specialists ensures physician coverage for all inhabited islands
Written by BIS   
Monday, 07 September 2015 08:17

Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Perry Gomez joins Family Medicine Specialist Physicians for a photograph at the conclusion of Thursday's press conference announcing their deployment. The deployments have ensured that each inhabited island of The Bahamas will now be serviced full-time buy a resident doctor for the first time. Pictured (from left) are Dr. Phyllis Darville (San Salvador), Dr. Keysha Smith (Bimini); Dr. Gomez; Dr. Nicole Adderley (Exuma) and Dr. Allen Cho (Berry Islands). The deployments became effective September 1, 2015.  Dr. Keith Rivers (Marsh Harbour, Abaco) has already taken up residency in Marsh harbour. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Government of The Bahamas took another “significant” step in its ongoing heath systems strengthening initiative with the recent deployment of five Family Medicine Specialists (physicians) to key Family Islands.

The deployments ensure that the Government, through the Ministry of Health, the Department of Public Health and the Public Hospitals Authority, now has placed resident doctors on every inhabited island of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas – a first for the local public healthcare system.

The five physicians – Dr. Allen Cho (Berry Islands); Dr. Nicole Adderley (Exuma); Dr. Phyllis Darville (San Salvador); Dr. Keyasha Smith (Bimini) and Dr. Keith Rivers (Marsh Harbour, Abaco) are all graduates of the Family Medicine Residency Programe launched by the Public Hospitals Authority in 2012 as the first Post-Graduate Residency programme at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Dr. Cho’s presence in the Berry Islands along with Drs. Darville (San Salvador) and Dr. Smith (Bimini) also represents the first time those islands have a full-time physician (Resident Doctor) to conduct their medical affairs.

“One of the main goals of this programme (Post-Graduate Residency) was to improve the quality of, and access to, comprehensive and continuous family health services to the residents of The Bahamas,” Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Perry Gomez said Thursday.

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