Cayman marine environment worth near $200M

| 27/04/2017 | 32 Comments

(CNS): The minister with responsibility for the environment has said that initial results from work currently underway by local environmental researchers to assess how much the natural environment is worth to the local economy suggests it is reaching almost $200 million a year – and thats just the ocean. Wayne Panton, who made history when he steered through the National Conservation Law after years of controversy, said that he is proud of the legislation that is working to protect the country’s natural resources, and the economic assessments are showing how valuable nature is to the country’s bottom line.

“The environment doesn’t always get the attention it needs because it can seem like a tomorrow problem. But unless we take the necessary measures now it will be too late when it becomes the today problem,” Panton told CNS this week. “It is quite possible for us to continue developing the Cayman Islands in a sustainable way. Technology will play an increasing part in helping us utilize the resources we have to benefit the people and the economy without destroying the environment.”

With research beginning to underscore the monetary value of our natural resources, and work is still to be done to calculate the terrestrial environment’s value, officials from the DoE have said, it becomes increasingly clear why we need to protect those resources

Panton said that while the natural environment has enormous value, he does not believe that being a good custodian means the end of development. “But, as is the case the world over, we have reached the point where protecting our environment must be an important consideration in development decisions. That is why the National Conservation Law remains one of the most important pieces of legislation I steered through this term,” he added.

Panton brought around 80 pieces of legislation over the past four years, much more than any other minister, and mostly to do with the offshore financial sector, which have been fundamental to the country’s fortunes. However, the National Conservation Law is the one he considers as fundamental to the country’s future.

Panton said that once the NCL is fully implemented, he expects that a lot of work will have to be done to ensure clarity between the government agencies interacting with the National Conservation Council. But things are already taking shape.

“In general, things have worked fairly well. But when implementing a new process there is going to be some friction. The success is about managing that and making sure people are aware of what the relevant provisions are. The NCC spent a great deal of time creating guidelines in line with law and practice for interaction with agencies. What tensions existed are being reduced as things become better understood.”

The minister said that the fear mongering about the law was misplaced and it has not had any detrimental economic implications, despite some recent claims on the campaign trial.

“The fear that environmental considerations would somehow unduly impact normal economic considerations were unfounded,” Panton said, as he pointed to the accepted norms now in developed and increasingly in developing countries about a clear recognition of promoting environmental concerns alongside socio-economic ones.

Despite ten years or more of wrangling about the legislation, which Panton said was dubbed the “national conversation law” for years because minister after minister talked about implementing a conservation law but failed to do so, he managed to get a law passed.

In the face of the continued misinformation from various quarters, in the end he achieve the unexpected result of unanimous support when he brought the legislation to the parliament after wide public consultation and amendments to meet the public concerns.

But since then, MLAs on the opposition benches have become less supportive of conservation.

“We have a lot of existing politicians and some seeking to be elected who pay lip service to environmental issues as think they have to,” he said. “But when you drill down to what they are saying, it’s just words without any real comprehension or understanding of the issues.”

Worried about the possible retrograde steps on the environment, he said, “Members of the opposition talk about supporting conservation but their actions show different. Some MLAs recently voted against taking money from Environmental Protection Fund to purchase environmentally sensitive land and for no good reason. They are quite prepared to compromise the environment for their own political agenda, which does not serve the interests of the country and certainly not the children, who we should be the stewards of the environment for.”

Panton believes that the legislation will be under threat under any other government, as many candidates appear to want to revert to the previous position that the consideration of the environment should be on an ad hoc basis again, “when it looks good rather than a consistent rational approach where right decisions are made on the right information at relevant time”.

He said, “This government has demonstrated that it is committed to protecting the environment as it recognizes the immense value it has to people and the economy. The environment is part of our quality of life, it makes us who we are and has huge economic value. Our coastlines in their natural state are the best protection we have from a variety of risks, including the threat of storms and hurricanes as well as climate change concerns. Sustainable development must include protecting them.”

“In the end,” Panton warned, “nature does not need us; we need nature.” But he said the law will not function properly unless there is an appropriate balance of sustainable development tempered with the realities we face.

“We all need to make an extra effort to preserve the unique environmental aspects of the Cayman Islands,” he added.

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Category: Land Habitat, Laws, Politics, Science & Nature

Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    One has to wonder if putting this measly price on our marine environment is a covert sales pitch to Mr. Dart that it’s up for sale. With our environmentallly ignorant politicians at the help it might well be worthless in another decade.

    • Alarmed says:

      A rather long disertation on how valuable the environment is to the islands, when you all give Dart cart blanch blessings to turn the natural environment into what ever he can get richer from.
      Forgot the destruction of the large swath of “beach rock” natural formation / marine habitat that plans to destroy. HIPOCRITS.

  2. Anonymous says:

    1.) I beg to differ and would actually value our environment as priceless.

    2.) Our environment is our natural and national resource(s).

    Never let another tell you we have none ever again. Been saying this for a while now but unfortunately, unless the typical processes of manufacturing are being applied, many fail to understand the concept as it concerns our island nation.

    Yet another great reason why we would do so much better by ignoring the never ending drip-drop of naysaying experts and critics.

    – Whodatis

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you, Who.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you.

        Now for us to instill these concepts in our people and students.

        All my school life I was taught that Cayman has no natural resources. One can only assume the official curriculum hasn’t changed much in this regard.

        – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      Manufacturing in Cayman? Are you on acid?

    • Anonymous says:

      That is whats wrong with these government officials. Always putting a price on something without seeing it’s true value.

      • Yo Yard says:

        I think most of you stopped reading at the headline. What I read was that about $200 million of income was due to our natural environment, that is a lot different than the value of the natural environment.

        Think of it this way, if you have a property that you rent out the monthly income from the tenant is much less than what it is worth. It also needs upkeep and care-taking, so unless you want the 3 Islands to become run-down tenements take better care of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is not a nation, just sayin’.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is a pity Wayne did not have an explanation as to why his Government allowed Dart to dig up Seven Mile Beach on the promise that he might build a hotel that we do not need at this time.

  4. Michel says:

    And let’s protect the Caymanian people…

  5. Anonymous says:

    PPM is ironically the same government to bring us the NCL as well as bring us the plans to dredge acres of our protected marine environment to build cruise berthing facilities and the same government which allowed the removal of the bedrock at Long Point, another protected marine/beach environment.
    Will people respect the NCL when it appears that the government owning it is the one also ignoring it?

    • Anonymous says:

      There isn’t any enforcement of the NCL, not at Sandbar or anywhere else. Seems government got plenty of money but don’t want to spend it on the officers or equipment to enforce the laws they passed.

  6. Anonymous says:

    More efforts to catch poachers and prosecute them along with ensuring that development is done in a sustainable manner would be good!

  7. Anonymous says:

    What happened to the permanent yacht moorings that were going to be installed in West Bay bight so we would get no more reef damage from anchoring superyachts? How much did Paul Allen settle with the goverment for? How much was spent on reef restoration? Is there anything left over for the moorings. These things are all the peoples business. They should be kept informed.

    • Harley Smythe says:

      No way, 12:20… The people can’t be informed. They might not vote “correctly”!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman must adopt protective and sustainable measures now or spend much larger sums in the future for restoration when our children are dealing with the consequences of lack of foresight.

  9. Al Catraz says:

    Good. Now sell it to the highest bidder and be done with it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wonder how much did we pay to learn that one? Ahhh… they really don’t think we can see through haze.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Guy Harvey has said it, and it’s worth repeating: consider that we have less than 20 female Stingrays at the Sandbar that bring in hundreds of millions a year in cruise and air tourism dollars. Think about how precious those things are to our economy and the lifetime value of each of those slippery girls the next time you see some jackass lifting them out of the water and suffocating them. We should have DoE officers at the Sandbar every day during the peak afternoon window protecting these national treasures. We need to start adopting these attitudes if we are to preserve what is important, not only culturally, but economically.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jamaicans and Caymans built this place(with other peoples money), they deserve to destroy and dumb down its culture.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmm I thought it was Guy but could have been the Department of whatevvs, but who the H thought it was a good idea to remove their barbs??? Their only protection from their predators???
      Cruel too.

      • Anonymous says:

        Uh the Stingrays at sandbar have barbs…wtf are you talking about?!? Have you ever been there?

    • Anonymous says:

      Tell GH to spend some of his money and buy boats and equipment to enforce the rules. No money in government coffers apparently for enforcing the existing laws. Sandbar is lawless and in danger of total loss to irresponsible commercial boats.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why should it be Guy Harvey’s special duty to pay for your privilege?!? So many Caymanian operators so quick to acquit themselves of any responsibility! Speaking up is free and everyone’s collective duty!

        • Anonymous says:

          I not saying that GH pay for every thing. I just saying that if he so damn righteous, why he not make grants to enforce like they do to research.

      • Anonymous says:

        We already pay the DoE staff, and have equipped them with boats, uniforms, badges and radios. There is also a $50+mln Environmental Protection Fund for this purpose.

        • Anonymous says:

          NCL does not mention enforcement as a priority for Env Fund.
          Look around, uniforms don’t catch poachers or enforce laws, people do and there’s not enough of them. The boats are crap, easily out run by some bobo in a south seas.
          No man, you got it so wrong.

        • Anonymous says:

          Have you seen the idiots in charge?

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