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Tourism and Sustainability

Local Voices
The Lionfish is now an invasive species to the Caribbean Sea with the potential to harm native species and habitats – Miguel Angel

As the Bay Islands gains more and more recognition, tourist numbers continue to rise in this up and coming holiday destination. With this new found popularity comes the need to protect, respect, and sustain the natural and cultural assets that make these islands unique and worth visiting.

Although a surge in tourism has brought much needed economic activity to the region, it also has produced an increased strain on the island’s fragile coastal and marine habitats. For instance, tourism development projects are directly affecting marine ecosystems by removing mangroves, vegetation which plays a key biological role by preventing pollutants and construction site run-off from entering the ocean and negatively impacting reef health. Furthermore, the increased demand for seafood has led to overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices that are endangering local fish populations. In order to counteract this environmental degradation, there are a number of efforts taking place throughout the Bay Islands that encourage businesses to operate in a more sustainable manner.

The Go Blue Bay Islands project is trying to do its part by dealing directly with the private sector, in particular, restaurants, accommodation, retail stores and dive shops. Each one of the businesses featured on this website have earned the right to be included within the Go Blue Bay Islands platform by accepting to participate in relevant environmental training sessions, in addition to complying with numerous but basic environmental indicators that will help them reduce their ecological footprint in the short and medium term.

As a visitor you can contribute to our cause through awareness and active participation. Support the businesses that display the “Go Blue Bay Islands” sticker, and you will be helping promote environmental sustainability throughout The Bay Islands. Also, when eating out, look for the Bay Island’s Responsible Seafood Guide, an informative poster that helps consumers select sustainable fish species (such as Lionfish, an invasive species which threatens the reef’s ecosystem), those with specific restrictions (like conch and lobster), and those, which should be avoided completely under any circumstances (such as shark and sea turtle). By making responsible dining choices, you can protect endangered and overfished populations while still enjoying fresh and delicious local seafood.

If you’re interested in learning about these and other sustainable initiatives taking place in The Bay Islands, check out the “Action Opportunities” category listed here.