Still no chairperson for conservation council

| 13/03/2018 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Three months after Christine Rose-Smyth resigned from her position as chair of the National Conservation Council, government officials have still not appointed a replacement. The NCC is scheduled to meet Wednesday for its first meeting of 2018, when it will be dealing with a wide range of issues, from the thorny problems relating to invasive species and the speargun controversies, to the latest developments on the protected areas. But it will do so without a formal chair and against the backdrop of government’s continued threat to overturn the historic legislation that paved the way for the council.

Government officials told CNS that the search for a chairperson was ongoing and the review of the legislation was still on the cards. “The ministry has begun discussions with potential nominees to replace the National Conservation Council chairperson. It also expects the review of the National Conservation Law will begin in the near future,” the ministry stated.

It is still not clear why Rose-Smyth resigned unexpectedly last year but the conservation law had been coming under sustained criticism from government and opposition benches. In addition, demands about speargun use from politicians has placed the council in a difficult legal position (see NCC faces speargun conundrum), which it was struggling to deal with.

Rose-Smyth had also written to the premier and the ministry about the premier’s comments in the Legislative Assembly last year, where he described the conservation law as “ridiculous” and announced a review of the legislation. She has so far not received a response.

The conservation law was steered through the Legislative Assembly by one Cayman’s very few politicians with a genuine interest in and wide knowledge of the environment, Wayne Panton.

There was wide support for the law when it passed after Panton, the environment minister at the time, took the pragmatic approach of making compromises in some areas to ensure its passage. Despite this, politicians on both sides of the aisle have increasingly criticized the law.

Panton recently expressed his disappointment and concern about the turn of events from his former political colleagues and issued a warning about the dangers of watering down the law.

With most politicians paying only lip-service to the issue on the campaign trail, Wayne Panton lost his seat and the portfolio was given to Dwayne Seymour, the current health minister, who appears to have little knowledge of or interest in the subject area and has handed the portfolio largely to his councillor, Captain Eugene Ebanks, who remains largely opposed to the DoE’s plans to expand the marine parks.

According to the agenda for Wednesday, the NCC will be considering issues relating to the continued efforts to place certain areas of Cayman’s unique and endangered habitat under protection through land purchase or management to improve historically poor land conservation. But the threat of a legislative review and the lack of interest coming from the ministry continues to make the existing environmental challenges in the Cayman Islands even more difficult.

See the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting here.

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

Comments (24)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I nominate Wayne Panton.

  2. Anonymous says:

    According to the illustrious DoE marine park conservation brochure, going back at least three decades: “Violation(s) of any of these (marine) laws is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of Cl$500,000 fine and four years in jail. Upon conviction, forfeiture of the vessel or other equipment may also be ordered”.

    Unclear if even Billionaire Paul Allen was fined CI$500,000, and we certainly don’t recall Tatoosh being forfeited. Haven’t heard of anyone loosing their boat or equipment, and rarely any jail time even for repeat offenders. Unfortunately, as with any laws, examples must be made to convince miscreants that following the rules matters.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly right, what’s happening with the derelicts that recently got caught with all those conch and a lobster out of season? As usual depends who you are, or who your daddy is, that’s if you know I guess.
      Disband the NCC, it’s blatantly obvious it was set up just to be window dressing and was never intended to serve a purpose.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That’s because this government doesn’t want anything conserved when there is money to be made. Everything has a price tag.

  4. Anonymous says:

    That headline tells us all we need to know about environmental concerns…hell, we cant even stop people littering the beach.

  5. West bay Premier says:

    I believe that most politicians don’t care about marine ecosystem /environment and just use it as a political football . If they cared they would be suporting the Legislation that is place and building on it .

    I am amazed at the Captain Councilor stance on this topic that he can’t see what has to be done today to make sure that the Marine environment is properly protectd and enforced . I think that he is more scared of losing that vote , rather than doig what is necessary .

    I wonder what are they going to tell their Grandchildren in a few years when they can’t get a fish , lobster , and conch from their own waters/ocean . I remember when all marine species were in abundance around the whole Islands, and that was a good feeling to know we had it .

    • Anonymous says:

      The Good Captain’s proposal is to ‘switch’ the protected areas with the non protected areas because the protected areas are doing so well and there is much more marine life in the marine parks than the other areas which are fished out dead zones…

      And this is the person we have in CIG leading the charge for conservation – lawd help us!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The DOE is a joke. Im with Capt. Eugene on this one. Expanding the Marine parks is not the answer to everything. We need size and bag limits and dont tell me they dont work here when they work everywhere else. Pretty soon there wont be anywhere we can fish. They must want the whole Island for divers only.

    • Anonymous says:

      The rest of the world has figured out that bag limits etc are not enough and expanding Marine Parks is in fact the better approach!

      If we follow people like you and the capt pretty soon there wont be any fish to catch anywhere and there wont be any divers either!

    • West bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 8:32am , I get what you’re saying . But stop and realize the condition of the marine resources , and the population of the Islands today . Can the marine resorces handle 60 thousand taking bag limits on everything in the condition they are in today ? NO . So then we must take drastic measures to preserve and bring it back for future generations . Those measures should mean making new Laws and more restricted areas to fish any how you can .and strictly enforced . Capt Eugene should know what I’m saying but he’s scared of losing your vote .

      • Anonymous says:

        There are many more people in Florida than Cayman but the fishing is way better Im not saying do away with the marine parks that we have but if the
        DOE has their way there will be practically no where to fish unless you have a large boat. Of course that would mean they would actually have to get out and patrol.

        • West bay Premier says:

          Anonymous 10:51 pm , It sounds like you think that it’s more important to have more places to fish , rather than having fish to fish for . When there’s NO FISH NO LOBSTER NO CONCH to fish for , what are you going to say and do then ? Wish that you had listened to WBP suggestions . Don’t compare Cayman to Florida because Florida has thousands of sq miles for breeding grounds for marine life , Cayman has about 100 sq miles .

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, I guess that’s why we have folk bringing 170 conch in on one boat. Limits have been tried and tested here (conch and lobster) yet just like most of our laws, everyone just abuses them and enforcement is a joke.

  7. Anonymous says:

    According to another media report, those two caught recently with 173 conch were given a “warning” by RCIPS. Not sure why comments were closed on CNS as there was no formal arrest, charge, or prosecution pending. Perhaps CNS, like many of us, would automatically assume there was an arrest, would be a trial, and a public deterrent of some kind made. Nope. There is no political will to protect our environment, or enforce our rules.

    • Anonymous says:

      Reading comprehension is really an asset. Those men were in fact “warned for intended prosecution” which means that they will attend court to answer to the charges against them. I agree that our environmental laws need better enforcement, but lets at least acknowledge the times when this enforcement does occur.

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps the authorities should clarify since 173 conch was particularly galling!

      • Anonymous says:

        Warnings in UK policing mean you don’t go to court but the charge remains on record. Couldn’t say if it’s the same in Cayman but would have thought it would be a similar process?

    • Anonymous says:

      I will NEVER vote for any of the so-called “leaders” who prefer personal gain at the expense of our environment. I would like to see them deported for selling our future to enrich themselves. Greedy lowlife bastards!

      • Anonymous says:

        That is your prerogative to never vote for certain persons but please bear in mind that any environment laws should benefit all of us and not just the rich and famous. The law was too draconian and needs to be amended asap. The past minister is fortunate enough that the draconian law would not effect him so much but not all of us are in that great position. Cayman is for all of us, at least that is how it should be.

        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t follow how it is just for the rich and famous? I see the former minister and he don’t ack like he rich or famous so how it don’t affect him? I believe he did good for all of us but maybe you can show me what is wrong?

        • Anonymous says:

          “Either way, he said the continuation of the project does not hinge on the impasse over the ironshore, which he described as a “sideshow.” ”

          Quotation from Compass article February 2018 relating to Rum Point development.

          I could not agree more that environment laws should benefit all of us and not just the rich and famous. But it is by far and away certain elements of the rich and famous who are hell bent on gutting what environmental protect we do have.

        • Anonymous says:

          “The law was too draconian and needs to be amended”
          Please state specifically, preferably with examples, which parts are too draconian and how you would amend them.

  8. Anonymous says:

    just another day in wonderland…….

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