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Barbados: Preserving paradise
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Marine Trust

James Blades
Hotelier James Blades is secretary of the Barbados Marine Trust.

He says the island's marine environment is "under serious pressure", particularly from pollution and development - much of it tourist-related.

"A big hotel creates a lot of sewage," he said.

"We're a limestone island. The limestone is supposed to act as a filter, but everything that goes into the well eventually makes its way into the ocean."

Mr Blades is also concerned about the impact of the cruise industry. A number of companies have been fined in recent years for dumping wastes such as fuel, sewage and rubbish into the ocean, he said.

They also dispose of rubbish on islands that are already concerned about their own landfills.

"You think a cruise ship leaves Miami for a week and takes all of its garbage back to Miami?" Mr Blades asks. "It gets to island ports and dumps it there. And we're going to pay for it in the long run."

But he points to the protection of the island's endangered leatherback and hawksbill turtles as an example of effective ecological management.

"There are turtles all over the place now," he said

"But there are still serious problems," he said, explaining that a 25 year-old female hawksbill turtle will return to a spot within 10 metres of her birth site to lay her first eggs.

"In many cases, when she comes back, there's a big hotel there," he said.

Bright, beachfront security lights also affect the newly-hatched baby turtles, which find their way to the sea by heading for the moonlight shining on the sea's surface.

"I've actually seen a photograph of a bonfire on a beach with 200 baby turtles in it, dead. They had been drawn to it and crawled in," he said.

Several hotels, including the one Mr Blades also runs have opted for low-level, "turtle-friendly" lighting systems.

However profit-motivated tourism is, Mr Blades knows the industry is here to stay: "We need tourism to survive - it is all we have," he said.

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