The Hon. Darren Henfield,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of
Dr. the Most Hon. Hubert Minnis
LJM Maritime Institute Graduation
18 October 2018
The Prime Minister regrets that he is unable to attend this evening. But he asked that I offer his personal greetings and congratulations.
It is my happy privilege to offer these remarks on his behalf, and on behalf of the Government.
Let me begin by congratulating the graduates, who began their studies in 2014, and who are pioneers here at the Institute.
I acknowledge the parents, guardians, benefactors, teachers, trainers and staff at the Institute, who made today possible.
You have demonstrated a commitment to “teamwork, discipline and [the] dignity of fellow-comrades.”
You figuratively and literally have a world of opportunity before you.
Because of your training and experience you are world-class.
In addition to the graduates, I also acknowledge “the successful completion of the first year pre-sea programme of the Cadets from the Cohort 2017.”
You have an exciting journey ahead as you are on your way “to be deployed on merchant ships of international shipping companies.”
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I once again thank Lowell Mortimer for his vision and for his stellar commitment to maritime education, philanthropy and community service.
Lowell is a man of enormous generosity, who has made a tremendous personal commitment, both financial and time-wise, to the Institute.
He is also a man of excellence and enterprise.
Lowell is a Bahamian patriot par excellence, whose love of country is an example to us all.
I also thank Dr. Brenda Cleare, your President, for her enormous dedication.
Dr. Cleare truly loves the students at the Institute. She is passionate about the mission of the Institute and the success of every student.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Prime Minister recently spoke at a forum in New York hosted by the Bahamas Maritime Authority.
Allow me to share some of his remarks from that forum.
He noted that the Bahamas Ship Registry comprises over 1570 ships totaling over 64 million gross tonnage.
This places The Bahamas within the top 10 of the world’s largest flag states.
This is a major achievement for The Bahamas, with ships flying the Bahamas flag in every corner of the globe.
It also represents the confidence and trust of ship owners and managers in The Bahamas in the regulation of their fleet, which is critical to the global economy.
The Bahamas footprint extends to all shipping sectors.
We are also known for our world-class passenger ship fleet of over 140 cruise ships. This ship type represents nine percent of ship numbers on the Registry.
The largest percentage of ship types on the Registry are in fact tankers – over 27 percent – followed by general cargo, bulk carriers and offshore vessels which each account for over 15 percent of the ship type on the Registry.
The common thread with these ships and their owners/managers is that they share the BMA’s commitment to maintaining the highest level of safety, security and environmental standards.
The Government will continue to promote the maritime sector and ensure that The Bahamas remains competitive in this ever growing market.
The Bahamas is committed to expanding our service offering to customers.
We are expanding our base in Asia, with the opening of a dedicated BMA office in Tokyo, Japan, which is one of the largest ship-owning countries.
This expansion consolidates and strengthens our presence in The Bahamas, in the Americas, London, Athens and Hong Kong.
“The Bahamas continues to recognise the fundamental importance and critical role of the maritime sector to the long-term sustainability of The Bahamas.
“The Government has decided to invest in the future of this country by projecting three key areas of growth. Maritime is one of them. The industry is projected to grow by to approximately 32% until 2050.
“This growth is expected in the cruise industry, containerized movement of cargo, and [the] movement of dry bulk commodities and finished goods.
“Our close proximity to the major cruise routes and strategic location along the major shipping routes will play a major role in enhancing the growth of maritime industry in the country.”
As has been noted before: The maritime fleet flying the Bahamian flag today is close to about 1600 ships operating worldwide.
Imagine if we could place Bahamians on these vessels throughout the world. This would mean professional opportunities for thousands of Bahamians in the years ahead.
With your training and new global awareness, may I invite you to become advocates, at home and abroad, for the preservation of the oceans and on making others aware of the grave threat of climate change to the world and to The Bahamas.
As you are certainly aware, a grave threat to the oceans of the world is plastic waste, which one Commonwealth leader described as, “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”.
Due to our geographic location, The Bahamas archipelago is besieged by marine debris from the United States of America and from the high volume of international marine vessels that pass through our waters. This pollution affects tourism, fisheries and the health of our population.
To reduce plastic waste, the Government of The Bahamas has made a commitment to banning single-use plastics and Styrofoam by 2020.This ban will include: plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic food utensils.
Another grave threat is climate change.
We see this in rising sea levels, the loss of coral reefs, the increased volume of acid in our oceans, and more severe hurricanes and typhoons.
We must dedicate more energy and resources in building resilience and sustainability as we address climate change.
While the delivery of humanitarian aid is essential, it is better to focus on prevention, and the strengthening of capacity building.
By example, such an approach should focus on the preservation and sustainable use of the world’s seas and oceans.
The resources of the oceans of the world must be protected and wisely used to ensure their viability for generations to come, and to ensure the shared benefit, enjoyment and the continued survival of all.
Without healthy oceans, The Bahamas, like many other countries may not be able to sustain our way of life and to develop.
Tourism is the world’s largest industry. It is also the lifeblood of our economy. Millions of tourists travel to The Bahamas annually because of our waters.
While many cities in the Caribbean and the world are coastal, the entire Bahamas is a coastal zone.
In terms of the number of islands, islets, reefs, coral reefs and cays, The Bahamas is one of the larger archipelagos in the world.
The ocean is not just a way of life for us. It is life itself.
This includes: food production and pharmaceutical extracts, tourism, the marine and maritime sectors, sport and recreation and much more.
So essential is the ocean to our survival, The Bahamas worked diligently on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, with one of our former diplomats, the late Mr. George Stewart, becoming a global expert on the Convention.
The Bahamas remains committed to being a vigilant steward for the preservation and protection of the environment.
As you begin the next phase in your life journey, I invite you to be men and women of excellence. May you also be stewards of the environment.
Thank you and good evening.