There is a lot of foreign interest in the natural resources of The Bahamas, even in the midst of an 18-month moratorium that prevents taking resources from the country, Director of the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission Rochelle Newbold told Guardian Business, with Minister of Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira adding that there continues to be a lot of interest in aragonite mining.
The reason for the moratorium was to give the country time to develop and legislate access and benefit-sharing (ABS) protocols that will allow the country to share in the proceeds from the products derived from the natural resources sourced and taken from the country.
“We already knew that we were being fleeced and we already had those examples and we put in the 18-month moratorium to stop that,” said Newbold.
“They didn’t stop calling and they didn’t stop emailing, but they couldn’t come and take anything out anymore.”
Newbold added that it was hoped the legislation could have been passed this month, but more legalese was required before the document would be ready.
She said the government is trying to make the legislation as airtight as possible, given examples of big pharmaceutical companies fighting countries on their protective legislation.
“There is no perfect law because even other countries whose legislation we are looking at, we are seeing those being challenged internationally by these big companies,” Newbold said.
Ferreira said the government is putting a legal framework in place to ensure The Bahamas benefits from aragonite mining, which he said is still garnering a lot of interest.
Mining was talked about by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest recently as one of those things that could bring unbudgeted revenue into the country.
Ferreira said the government has to ensure the mining is done responsibly.