Attorney General Carl Bethel.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
ATTORNEY General Carl Bethel yesterday suggested that exploratory oil drilling could again take place in Bahamian waters, telling senators: “I don’t know what the future will hold.”
The leader of government business in the Senate was making a contribution to debate on the now passed Bill for an Act to Provide for the Protection and Sustainable Use of Biological Resources and Traditional Knowledge.
Bahamas Petroleum Company announced earlier this month that it did not find commercial volumes of oil after drilling a well off Andros.
BPC’s drilling began on December 20, 2020 and ended Sunday, February 7, with the company completing its exercise within its projected 45-60 days window.
The Our Islands, Our Future coalition, which led environmental opposition to BPC’s oil drilling plans, said in a statement not long after the announcement that it did not mean that The Bahamas’ environment, tourism and fisheries industries are “fully secured” against future exploration wells and similar activities.
“…We don’t have minerals, no we don’t,” Mr Bethel said yesterday. “Certainly no oil it seems. I don’t know, maybe when they drill again they may find it, who knows.
“This is just an off-hand comment, I don’t know what the future will hold, but certainly in our marine resources we have more than sufficient to bless the world with.”
He added: “The Bahamas is like I say an aquatic amazon.”
However, he reiterated that the newly passed bill would ensure resources are not depleted while at the same time ensuring that there would be a shared benefit.
“At the end of the day (there) is no point in The Bahamas permitting what has occurred in Southeast Asia, the exploitation of its marine resources by all and sundry apparently to the point of extinction because then nobody gets the benefit from it. So, the whole point is to have laws in place that can help to sustain and renew these blessings from heaven and protect marine and aquatic life because that is our job that is our duty.
“I always say the Lord made us the shepherds of the sea, we and our people, we have to take that shepherding duty very seriously.
“When we come now to look at this question of yet untapped resources they are largely our marine resources because we know of instances where the genetic knowledge of certain properties in certain life forms in our waters have been the basis of some great advancements in anti-cancer therapy, also in anti-inflammation therapy and some great advancements in anti-cancer therapy and also the cosmetic industry.”
He said the legislation also ensures there is full, frank and total disclosure of everything to do with any application for licenses to explore biological prospecting and research.