Marine park expansion under review again

| 09/07/2018 | 42 Comments

(CNS): Almost six years after a public consultation made it clear that the people of the Cayman Islands wanted to see the local marine parks enhanced, the environment minister has reportedly asked for another review of the proposals. The Department of the Environment has consulted, reviewed and reshaped the original proposals, which were based on extensive scientific research, numerous times in order to accommodate objections from local fishermen and to make the expansion palatable for politicians. Nevertheless, it appears that the current minister wants to consult on the proposals yet again.

Compromised proposals for much-needed enhanced marine protection have been waiting for a green light from Cabinet since 2016. Despite his best efforts to win support from his Cabinet colleagues at the time, the former minister, Wayne Panton, encountered considerable push-back because of pressure on government from a small but vocal number of fishermen, who continue to object to any restrictions at all on their ability to take marine life from local waters.

Cayman’s original marine protections were not easy to steer through but they have ensured that the quality of local reefs stand out in the region. But with increased pressures from both over-fishing, increased coastal development and the myriad threats and challenges from climate change, the original protections are no longer enough.

With only 15% of reefs being fully protected, the mismatch of laws and rules that permit Caymanians, but not residents or visitors, to fish in certain places, rules that allow certain species of a certain size of fish to be take from the oceans at certain times, makes enforcement challenging. The DoE has targeted an increase of 30% of the reefs being ‘no take’, and less complicated rules to make it easier for conservation officers to know when people are poaching.

However, since taking office in May 2018 and being given the environment portfolio in what appears to be nothing more than an afterthought, Minister Dwayne Seymour has signaled to the DoE that he wished to review the proposals again.

It is not clear if the DoE will need to embark on yet another round of public consultation or whether the proposed enhancements will be further watered down at a time when the issue of climate change and the multiple rising threats to the marine environment are at the forefront of public discourse.

The minister has shown little, if any, enthusiasm for enacting the urgently needed enhancement for marine protection, and since his election he has made it clear that he wants to see the National Conservation Law reviewed and some of the powers of the National Conservation Council to protect Cayman’s natural resources diminished.

If there had been any doubt about the minister’s lack of commitment to the mounting environmental challenges facing the Cayman Islands, he made it even clearer last week when, during a debate about appropriations made to buy land for conservation under the NCL, he stated clearly that he was “no conservationist”.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (42)

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  1. Windy says:

    Before Obama left office, he created the largest protected area on the planet. A marine conservation area (Papahanaumokuakea) in Hawaii. Why would he do that? Because he along with many other leaders around the world recognize that the marine environment is invaluable to the planet.

    SO FORGET THE WHAT THE CURRENT MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT OF CAYMAN PERSONALLY THINKS. How do you want the future of Cayman to look? Do you want a country with a thriving marine environment or one with empty, dead reefs?

    Minister Seymor works for every voter on this Island, not only the people who fish for a living. Are we really going to allow a few ‘lobbyist’ to deplete our fisheries for their own personal short term gains? Is that it Cayman? Are we going to let the current Minister of the Environment ignore a very real problem that will affect the country’s economy and future?

    Who’s tried to get any fresh fish in Jamaica lately? Talk to Jamaicans (Kingstonians) and they’ll tell you that they once could eat their fill of massive hog snappers, parrot fish, yellow tail snappers and lobster at Hellshire on weekends. Can that be done anymore. Negative. The pickings are less than slim and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Why? They’ve depleted their fisheries… cause you know, they have zero environmental protection laws (that are enforced) and fishermen had to make a living. Ask those men if they can still make a living today.

    And look, this is not a Department of Environment issue. This is NOT a driftwood issue either. Stop this xenophobic nonsense. This is an issue of maximum importance for every Caymanian, resident or person that cares about this country or depends on it’s economy for survival. Because when we destroy the marine environment, that’s it. We don’t get to build that one back. No, not even Dart can do that. Let me ask you this: does Jamaica have a thriving dive industry that adds $$ to their economy?

    Also, it is a FALLACY that extending the marine park zone will take money away from fishermen. Ensuring there is more protection for Cayman’s invaluable marine areas, so that depleting fish populations can regenerate, will INCREASE Cayman’s fish stock over time. This will be GOOD NEWS for everyone, including fishermen.

    Generations ago, men made a living catching turtle in Cayman waters. Hard to see a turtle in the wild these days, because by the 1930s they were nearly extinct. As a people, we had to adjust. Turtling is no longer a viable industry for obvious reasons. And today, we may have to adjust once again and think carefully about what industries/livelihoods are sustainable for the future. Making a living catching fish in Cayman (if one can even make a living doing that solely these days) will no longer be a viable option if we do not take necessary action right away i.e. protecting Cayman’s reefs and extending the marine park zone. (And we won’t even talk about what the impacts on the dive industry will be if we don’t act fast.)

    Also, do yourself a favor and research Eric Sala and click the link below to listen to solutions rather than the fear mongers sounding off on Cayman’s radios or at the bar rooms.

    https://www.ted.com/talks/enric_sala_let_s_turn_the_high_seas_into_the_world_s_largest_nature_reserve




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  2. Anonymous says:

    The global elite don’t want you to feed yourselves. They cant make any money off of that, now can they? Soon after imposing enhanced marine parks, they will force ridiculous slot/size limmits and seasons upon us. It may not sound like a horrible thing to some, but they will be once again stripping us of our freedoms and god-given right to provide for ourselves. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the country that we strive so hard to be like- the USA (new Babylon).

    Eg:
    -2 week snapper season, while there is absolutely no threat to red snapper
    – No collecting rain water without permission
    – No growing food without permission

    Wake the F up sheeple!!!

    While bohemoth commercial fishing vessels rape our oceans daily, killing anything standing in the path of their irresponsible fishing methods, we choose to concentrate on the small time fisherman because after all, that’s who the contolled/corrupt media has told us the bad guy is.

    Think for yourselves. It is much easier to hold onto our freedoms than to have to take them back once they are gone….




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    • Anonymous says:

      Name one behemoth fishing vessel that is raping Caymans reefs and shallow waters… That’s right you can’t!! So who then is to blame for the blatantly obvious decline in fish, conch and lobster from our reefs and shallow waters? My guess is the greedy small time fishermen/poachers who have no respect for the sea.




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    • Anonymous says:

      enforcement in open water needs to happen but you’re dillusional if you think people don’t want you to feed yourself. It’s conservation not conspiracy!




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  3. Anonymous says:

    Marine parks expansion nah happening, just accept it you bunch of driftwood nah making this call.




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    • borncaymanian says:

      I say it should. The sea is not unlimited in its resources anymore although so many of our people still think it is.




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  4. Tuna says:

    What they need to do is patrol by Spotts dock and many others in the evenings to see how many people are there fishing illegally,it amazes me the size fish they be putting in there buckets. Is it not the same violation if you fish illegally or take conch or lobsters out of season? Why every time I pull into a dock they are just there fishing like they don’t know the law?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Because no one enforces it so no one cares.




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      • Anonymous says:

        That becase there are only few conservation officers and only a couple of them are good. Get the others to work instead of looking after their personal busines interest at gov cost that’s a start. I fed up with seeing poachers strip our seas of marine life and certain expat residents taking undersize fish without any trouble. I report incidents as I see them but action is not seen but not surprizing when I see certain officers in stores or pursuing personal interest instead of doing the job they are paid to do. I on Sandbar everyday and never see a doe boat only one guy on a jet ski sometimes. Conch taken everyday. Police never seen. We need to enforce what we have before expanding parks. I agree expanding is right, but with more and better officers who do the job first.




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        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, take some money and hire expats to patrol. I say expats because if you bring in experts who don’t have family or connections here they can do their job without pissing of aunty teedee or uncle bobo.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Do people need a fishing license to catch fish at spotts dock?




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      • Tuna says:

        If you are not Caymanian you need a license to fish from our shores.




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        • Anonymous says:

          No. There is currently no requirement in Cayman law for anyone to have a fishing licence.

          So there is no need for a fishing licence at Spotts (or any other public) dock. (What the original comment on Spotts dock was suggesting, I believe, is that legal fishers there take undersized fish (less than 8″ generally) so are conducting illegal fishing.




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        • Anonymous says:

          You only need a license if you fish in water you can stand in and keep the catch. So the people netting and taking more than enough in deeper water from boats don’t need licenses. That’s BS and should be changed to all needing licenses. Use the money to hire more DOE who patrol!!




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        • Anonymous says:

          No you don’t.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    With no bag or size limits you would have to make the whole island a marine park which is their aim




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  6. Anonymous says:

    The following needs to be done immediately.

    1. Double or triple the amount of DoE enforcement officers and give them the tools to do their jobs.
    2. Expand marine parks.
    3. Ban all expats from harvesting any marine life. They should be allowed to partake in catch and release fishing only.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Or try a fishing license and you can only take so much. I don’t want to be punished because Rasta man can’t keep it together.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Nah – You got no right to harvest any of our limited supply marine life.




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        • Anonymous says:

          Much more is taken by Caymanian poachers, its small fish dat Rasta man and phillipino take.




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          • Anonymous says:

            Those sprats the Rasta takes are over fishes. Doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s taken all the time it’s going to be gone soon. And yes, the poaching by locals is a huge problem! Go driving deep in barkers and you’ll see all the conch shells just thrown out after they’ve got the meat and fled.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    Expansion of the marine park, and more poor folk have to buy their fish from fosters, hurleys, kirks, etc … Where will we be able to catch fish if these laws are designed to keep us out ??




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    • Anonymous says:

      Where will you catch fish when they are all gone. Put in place sensible marine parks and replenishment zones and enforce them. Generational fishermen should be licenced and have quotas. No depletion of spawning aggregations.




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  8. The Prognosticator says:

    It is as simple as A-B-C, folks…… When you continue taking more than can be reproduced, you run out!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Yep. Like we will run out of trees and water




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      • Anonymous says:

        When was the last time anyone in George Town or West Bay drank well water? Oh, right, we ran out.

        Groundwater contamination in the western half of Grand Cayman due, in part, to overuse drawing the fresh water down and leading to salt water intrusion. Plus of course septic pollution. Now we have more stringent rules about extraction rates in eastern Grand Cayman to protect the groundwater resources there. So thanks for making the point that conservation matters.




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        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, all because impotent Water Authority has no will or balls to enforce it’s own laws. They don’t even have enough staff to spot check drilling companies and ensure wells are drilled to proper depth and adequately grouted. This is what you get things run amuck.




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      • Anonymous says:

        You will, smart ass. Better yet, keep sucking and cutting and let your precious kids run out.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The iguana problem should be easy to rectify then if it’s just a matter of culling them without any limits.




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      • Anonymous says:

        If people ate them like in Honduras they wouldn’t be a problem. With how some people talk about how destitute they are maybe they should try it.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    Which Ministry of the CIG is responsible for the Blue Economy?




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Hold a referendum to get rid of this numpty and put Wayne back or all our coastal marine and terrestrial environment will be depleted in 10 years or less.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    I’d support a voter-led no confidence motion in this conflicted gov’t and the calling of a by-election. Our great grandchildren will never forgive the short-sightedness we chronically enable in silence.




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  12. West Bay Premier says:

    I think that a blind man could see what needs to be done in Cayman marine parks . Can some organize a boat trip to take all the politicians on so that they can see how few fish and conch and lobsters are left in the water around Cayman, then they will be able to see and understand what they have to do to preserve the resources for the future .

    Some years ago I had lunch with Gene Michael Cousteau and he told us a story about how politicians wanted to dredge the reef in Mexico , and the people didn’t want them to and him Gene was on the peoples side , and what him Gene did was he thought a few of the politicians how to scuba dive and took down on the reef , and someone put fire coral into one of the politician swim suite and he learned fast that the coral is alive , and after that the dredging of the reef was aborted .




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  13. Anonymous says:

    All Governing crap. What destroyed those reefs and all in the sounds is the governing way back when they cut these channels destroying sealife and blame blame blame u kno wah go blame urself every mouth must b fed or get fed up. Correct the past mistakes make dem rite let Paul Allen stopper up those reefs so there can b replenishment a new beginning repopulate the sea start a fish farm lobster farm give people the opportunity to do so and charge a fee from it gor ur revenue




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    • West Bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 10:26 am , did you know that all the channels around the Islands are all natural and not man made ? Unless recently they were dug deeper and wider . Then if so then blame Bush , McLaughlin , and Miller for it




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    • Anonymous says:

      You do realize there was a fish farm here but it went belly up in the 70’s I believe it was. Someone should start/re-start one mainly for the purpose of restocking the parks. Fish, lobster and conch. Don’t know how feasible it is, maybe even sell conch and lobster as well.




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