With the ongoing economic pressures faced by The Bahamas and in Abaco itself it is important to be careful to make every effort to not add any extra negative forces to an already struggling tourism industry.
Among the many attractions offered by Abaco’s tourism product one of the most significant is our protected waterways and sheltered harbours which has elevated the island to one of the top cruising destinations in the region. Sadly, while many harbours across Abaco have maintained their charm and beauty one in particular has seen better days.
Marsh Harbour’s harbour has certainly seen its fair share of issues in recent years, not the least of which were back-to-back hurricanes in 2011 and 2012 which left in their wake numerous sunken boats and damaged docks.
Some of these docks were damaged in a hurricane prior to 2011 and one was damaged fourteen years ago in Hurricane Floyd. Yet many remain unrepaired or unremoved until today giving the harbour a slum-like look of a run-down neighbourhood.
According to the head of Abaco’s Port Department they have put boat owners on notice to remove the sunken vessels which litter the seascape of Marsh Harbour’s harbour or they will remove them at the owner’s expense.
The Port Department has also received funds and approval to remove a sunken sailboat and an old barge from the harbour. However, it is unclear if the Port Department will extend the same requirements to owners of derelict docks.
Businessmen in Marsh Harbour believe this eyesore has discouraged some regular boaters from returning. One businessman said that the destination is expensive and visitors need to feel they are at least getting value for their dollar.
Similarly, the Marsh Harbour Town Committee has noted and is seeking to take action as the clutter of derelict vehicles can be seen in numerous areas throughout Marsh Harbour and most particularly on the Port Road adjacent to the shanty town known as the Mudd.
Yvonne Key, Chairperson of the Marsh Harbour Town Committee, is seeking to have these vehicles removed in conjunction with the Central Abaco District Council and they are expected to be taken away as early as the first week of December.
Mrs. Key also noted that the Committee sent a letter to the Department of Environmental Health Services six months ago concerning four empty houses to be condemned and torn down. One in Cove Estates has been removed so far.