Marine park enhancement back on agenda

| 11/06/2015 | 20 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands coral reef

(CNS): The Department of Environment is back at work on the enhancement of the local marine park system. Having launched a public consultation period at the end of 2012 to gauge community support for the expansion of local marine protection, the project had taken a back seat to the implementation of the National Conservation Law. But following the creation of the National Conservation Council under that law, the marine parks are back on the agenda.

The members of the NCC and the Marine Conservation Board are now engaged in a review of the proposed new marine parks based on the plans revealed in the 2012 consultation and including the feedback given to the DoE during an extensive public engagement.

Answering questions in Finance Committee on Wednesday, Environment Minister Wayne Panton confirmed that the DoE was pressing ahead with the enhancement project based on the 2012 proposals but that there would be further public consultation before the new marine conservation map is enshrined in law.

The minister pointed out the significance of marine protection, and despite expected opposition over fishing access and other issues, Panton explained the need for the enhancement.

He said local and international scientists and researchers who have observed the have effect of marine parks over the last 30 years have documented the significant benefit that the parks have brought. But while the marine environment here has fared better than elsewhere in the region because of the early intervention, it is still in decline.

“There is a view, which is shared by the DoE and other scientists, that these marine parks need enhancing so we can continue to enjoy what we have and ensure the future of our marine environment is better protected. If we do not do it, we are not in a sustainable position, as we are slowing declining,” Panton said. “The marine environment is a tremendous benefit to the country.”

Answering questions about the enlargement of protected areas, Panton confirmed that the proposals expand the marine parks further out to sea. The proposal will create more equal protections from the taking of any life and eliminate the hotchpotch of rules depending on the different zones.

The move by the DoE to create greater protection for the local marine habit comes against the backdrop of the government’s counter-conservation move and plans for a cruise port in the George Town harbour. The publication of the draft Environmental Impact Assessment has revealed that the project would cause massive devastation to the reefs and marine ecology in that location and beyond, as well as serious disruption to life in the capital for as much as three years.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (20)

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  1. David Miller says:

    Why not stop all fishing in the reefs and only allow spear fishing and fishing in deeper waters and allow people to buy spear guns. I bet you find there will be lots of lobsters in shallow water and you solve the problem. I suggest 50 feet deeper.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Two funny things:
    1) The people refering to the big busts, made by DoE officers IIRC the news reports, and in the same breath saying DoE doesn’t enforce???
    2) The ones talking about things like ‘regularly spearfish on weekends at Tiki Beach’, but clearly aren’t calling 911 because they expect the Police to have ESP. (Otherwise theire comment would be “I called 911 at X:XX on Date and waited for 90 minutes and no officer showed up’. Since they dont’ say that they’re clearly part of the problem by not calling 911.)

    • Garfield says:

      I don’t find you funny. As a matter of fact, I did call 911 on two separate occasions on Sunday afternoons over a number of months. On both occasions the answer was quote Sorry we have no vehicles available at this time unquote. Not sure what they are doing on Sunday afternoons. I am no longer going to waste my time calling 911 over Illegal spearfishing on Sunday afternoons off SMB. Any other good suggestions?

  3. Anonymous says:

    The DoE are ban radicals, which have a history shown they’re approach doesn’t not solve any of the problems. Rather, keep pushing expansions and more bans that only reward the poachers and punish the law abiding angler.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Unless they can enforce the currently laws, the expansion if the marine parks will not nothing more than prevent the average guy our there from enjoying the already limited fishing, lobstering and conching one can do around the reefs.

    If you can’t enforce the laws, making new ones won’t solve the issue, in fact probably worsen it as the poaching increases. The guys taking 400 conchs in one day is your problem as seen in the news. Lobsters taken out of season in marine parks by the dozens. I often see the broken half’s of lobsters in the mangroves. I was just out the other day fishing and saw three fish pots in the mangroves.

    These people have no imagination!, make fish havens is one simple example, Lobster havens and protect those! You have plenty of area in the sound to do this and around the island, east end etc.. There are ways of making those that are so effective that it is completely illegal to do in Florida for purposes of harvesting easy collection. You will be amazed what a few cinder blocks, creating deep holes and covering can do for lobsters and fish. You will have hundreds around that structure reproducing.

    These scientists have not a single effort as to promoting replenishment except banning this and banning that and they are admitting that its STILL in decline. That’s because what you’re doing ISN’T WORKING!! So stop doing MORE of it and take a new approach!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do a better job of protecting the already closed areas. poachers don’t work 9 till 5. when caught with 150 conch out of season a straightforward prison sentence. There are shows on tv that show officers hanging off the side of cliffs after a 2 day hike to catch someone stealing an abalone.Have our officers watch theses shows. it might show them how seriously these people take there jobs.

  6. Sharkey says:

    I wonder if Mr Panton has thought any thing else but to extend the boundaries further out to sea . He did not say where the boundaries would start, or say anything about the real problems enforcement, which is the biggest problem since the marine parks has been put into law .

  7. Anonymous says:

    The sad truth of the matter is the vast majority of us “native Caymanians” feel that it is our birth right to take whatever we want from the sea with zero regard to whether or not it is in season a protected species or taken from a protected area. It makes me cringe every time I hear “those rules don’t apply to me” or “we don’t have marine parks in ___ district”.

    DOE need to get into the school system and educate the youths on the environment and conservation because the lessons being taught at home by most of the parents are that if you are born and bread native Caymanian you can help your self to whatever you want in the sea.

    These are the facts from a born and bread native Caymanian.

    • SSM345 says:

      And it will be the expats fault or a UK conspiracy when all the conch and lobster runs out in 10yrs time.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ten years time ?? You got to be kidding me !!

        You obviously don’t know much about the North Sound and other locations around the island where conchs and lobsters are caught.

        I give it 2 years or less – for lobsters and conchs to become extinct in the Cayman Islands.

        It doesn’t make sense for the marine parks to be extended when DOE enforcements officers are driving around in their 4 x 4 and doing “absolutely nothing” all day long; except burning out government gas and harassing tourists and watersports operators at Starfish Beach.

        A FOI request for the amount of persons arrested and charged with marine conservation offenses in the last 12 months would be a very interesting read.

        • Anonymous says:

          Because the mentality of DOE management is enforcement can be done by vehicle and not boat. Buy new boats, get more competent staff and change the inept enforcement management.

        • Garfield says:

          And how about the locals who regularly spearfish on weekends on Seven Mile Beach for a couple of miles North of the Tiki Village Restaurant? Wish I could make a citizens arrest but that is not possible in the Cayman Islands.

    • Jamia says:

      I somehow doubt the native Caymanians are the problem.

      • SSM345 says:

        What are you saying, its the Jamaicans taking all the conch and lobster? You can probably count number of Jamaicans living in Cayman who can swim properly on one hand.
        Its our unemployed youth and drug addicts who do 99% of the poaching, you see it on Facebook and Instagram daily and you read it in the court updates, and its our local restaurants that buy the poached conch from said people. FACT. Cut out the demand (start raiding and fining these restaurants) and you will kill the supply.

        • Anonymous says:

          Now you are thinking!

          It should be mandatory that restaurants record and report to DOE who they are buying locally caught seafood from with the quantities. This is will make catching these poachers so much easier. If BoBO from Bodden Town thinks he’s smart by selling 6 lobster to every restaurant on the Seven Mile Beach strip he’ll be caught at the end of the day when DOE compile their figures from all of the restaurants.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why bother expanding marine parks when the existing parks aren’t being enforced? Expanding marine parks will only hurt the few people who actually adhere to the rules. All DOE need to do is look on Instagram to see what a free-for-all it really is out there. I’ve stumbled on countless photo’s of poaching, illegal spear fishing ect…

    • Anonymous says:

      Listen bobo, I hear officer say that they can’t even get a tee shirt, this is disgusting. They spend their money on fleet of new trucks, but no boats, no uniforms, no more good staff.
      This is a difficult job, maybe even dangerous, but how can officers do the job without the right equipment and management.
      Poaching is out of control, damage to marine life is going on, starfish are being pulled from the water and our people just laugh and take photos. Stingrays are still lifted above water, this is wrong and there is no one to stop it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fair points and I don’t disagree with you.

        I would like to add that, I have never in my life had a DOE officer come aboard my vessel during lobster and conch season to check my catch and this is a damn shame! They should be out there in full force doing this during the season.

        I truly hope that this coming conch and lobster season I will be approached by a DOE officer who will ask to board my boat and check my catch limits and size. Please start doing this DOE. And government please give them the means to do so!

  9. Just Sayin' says:

    But Belize is getting a pier so we must too.

    • Anonymous says:

      And Haiti, and the DR, and Honduras. But we’ve got a ‘third world operation’ going on at the minute so we need to follow their example

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