DoE raises alarm over abuse of marine animals

| 18/02/2019 | 64 Comments
Cayman News Service

Stingray being lifted out of the water at Stingray City

(CNS): Following a number of reports of people abusing local marine animals in and around some of Grand Cayman’s favourite attractions, the Department of Environment (DoE) is urging people to follow the law in local waters regarding the handling of starfish, stingrays, turtles and other marine life. In the last month the DoE has received reports of a diver grabbing a sea turtle by its carapace, Sandbar visitors lifting stingrays out of the water, and starfish being picking up for significant periods at Starfish Point. All of these activities have the potential to harm the creatures.

The DoE said that any interactions with marine life happening outside of a designated Wildlife Interaction Zones (WIZ), as defined under the National Conservation Law (NCL), are not permitted.

“Elasmobranchs, such as stingray, echinoderms or starfish and sea turtles are resilient creatures but they can still be severely injured by mishandling,” said DoE Deputy Director Tim Austin. “Wildlife Interaction Zones (WIZs) were developed under the NCL specifically to permit individuals to safely interact with wildlife in our wonderful marine environment, not abuse it.”

Under the NCL, local watersports and dive shop operators who take tours to the two WIZ areas at the
Sandbar or Stingray City must obtain an annual permit and display decals with the relevant year on both sides of their vessel. Without this permit, tour operators can be denied access to these areas.

“Safety has always been one of the primary concerns for our marine environment, safety for our
residents and visitors, as well as for our precious marine animals,” said Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour in a press release from the department. “We must treat these animals with care and respect if we want them to stay around.”

Despite these comments, since he took over the environment portfolio the minister has shown no inclination to deal with the pressing need to enhance Cayman’s marine parks to increase the protection of endangered local marine life.

For more information about marine life interactions and best practices, WIZ locations and permit requirements, visit the DoE website here.

Or contact the DoE at 949-8469, email Doe@gov.ky or email DoE Research Officer Bradley Johnson, bradley.johnson@gov.ky.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (64)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    DOE urging the public. What a joke. Lol. Get off your lazy asses and actually prosecute someone for illtreating the animals then people might actually get the message.

  2. And another thing... says:

    Also, to the tour operators that pick up the stingrays and blow into their nostrils so that water shoots our of their mouths onto some giggling tourist….really guy? Really? How about if somebody forcefully blows into YOUR nose? Would that be fun? Idiots.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    We need enforcement on those sites to ensure proper handling of marine life, no littering, no blasting music and especially to ban ill equipped boats with inexperienced staff.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    DOE doesn’t have the teeth to issue spot fines, if it did and actually enforced this would easily pay the salary of a few marine park police.

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    • Anonymous says:

      NCL (2013) Part 6 lists extensive powers of enforcement for conservation officers. Some offenses include fines up to forfeiture value of vessel and vehicles. Part 7 §48 calls for the appointment of specific wardens for things like Stingray City/Sandbar. Wholly ignored it seems.

      http://doe.ky/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/National-Conservation-Law.pdf

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not the lack of laws, it’s the lack of integrity and balls of those who manage enforcement staff and implement the law that’s to blame. If you’ve ever met them you’d understand the total lack of credibility these people have and the dream world they occupy. As for DoE marine officers, most of the ones I’ve met are good, but certainly not all. One guy spends more time running his own business than he does working for DoE.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What ever happened to the no commercial vessels at the sandbar on Sundays rule?

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  6. Anonymous says:

    DoE should have a full time park warden at Sandbar managing the site every day, and handing out tickets to violating boaters and companies (using their registration numbers). It is our #1 eco-tourism interaction zone. Cayman continues to send the wrong message by leaving our most obvious and vulnerable environmental sites entirely unpoliced, even knowing there are documented bad actors showing up there everyday abusing animals and littering up the joint. It doesn’t stop by magic!

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    • Anonymous says:

      It won’t happen here. Everybody knows everybody. That is why nothing works.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Paradoxically, the “knowing everyone” ought to reinforce more reserved GOOD behaviour, not the reverse. It seems Cayman has learned to value the kinship of deception, more than honesty. Guilt and consequence don’t exist in a world of recurring acquittal, especially as it simultaneously fans unchecked egos.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great, now turtles and sting rays are gonna twitter #metoo

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Starfish can live out of the water for 3 days at a time and are on no endangered list anywhere in the world. Give me a break.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are mistaken, check your facts with the DoE.

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    • Cheese Face says:

      A human can likely live for 3 days in the ocean and is not on any endangered list, but it probably wouldn’t be that enjoyable for them. You are either extremely misinformed or an idiot, there is a clue in their name “fish”, so I’ll make my own assumptions.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is illegal according to the NCL to ‘take’ Starfish, (read the NCL for the many interpretations of ‘take’).
      It matters not what your personal opinion is, it’s the law in Cayman, period.
      Oh btw, at Biscayne Marine Park in Florida, touching is also illegal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Red Cushion/West Indian Sea Star (Oreaster reticulatus) is a protected species in many parts of the Caribbean and Florida because they are photogenic and people mess with them. They breathe through their tube feet and are reliant upon their water vascular system for life support. Unlike aquarium breeds and Pacific tidal species, they cannot thrive when stressed with hours of continuous airborne exposures and recoveries. It would be like water-boarding: technically, not always fatal, but still unnecessarily unpleasant and cruel.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Where is the DOE or Port Authority in monitoring the actions at Sandbar?

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    • Anonymous says:

      How do you do that in a country where everybody knows/related to everybody?

      “Hey you, in blue bikini, you just lifted stingray out of water? Give me your ID so I could write you a ticket!” “I didn’t know that I shouldn’t be doing that, nobody told me”.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “Great, now you know, tell your friends, here’s your ticket”. Every one of the cruise boat operators already has to pay a licensing fee to go there. They know the rules, or can be told to learn fast.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:49 Probably on one of the Tour Boats for a freebie day.

  10. Anonymous says:

    All of this gripe about touching marine animals but, not a word on tearing up acres of coral home to endangered marine life. Hypocrites.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Lol from the same govt who wants to build a PORT! ….and a fence? We have simple minded locals and foreigners alike now.

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  12. Chris Ware says:

    It’s a matter of Respect over $$$$. As returning Guest who admires the Cayman and its many wonderful features and benefits. If the Cayman is to survive, the cost of disrespect to Her needs to come with severe fines and penalties to those who abuse Her. Boat Captains are responsible for the actions of their customers and guests.
    Without regulations, enforcement, and implementation, the Cayman we all know and love will cease to exist.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I am still confused on this though. The article does not clarify. Can you or can you not hold the starfish at starfish point??

    CNS: No you cannot hold them.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It is most definitely against the law to touch Starfish. But like the Stingrays, totally ineffective DoE management fails them and the public every time.
      Perhaps if DoE managers spent more time doing their damn jobs and stopped the abuse of government assets, time and public money by ensuring certain employees did their jobs, (instead of running private businesses) we might actually see the law enforced.
      I am reliably told that one guy runs a boat maintenance and storage business, a property management business and surveys boats on top of his government job. How is this possible, does he have official permission to do this, has he got T&B licenses for all these businesses and how many CS codes is he currently breaking?
      Where’s the PAC chairman or AG when you need them?

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    • Anonymous says:

      There is a huge sign out at starfish point that says it too.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    always the local guides too never the expat ones….

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    • Anonymous says:

      12:53 Bull, I know one Honduran who got spiked handling a stingray and another who had a very toothy encounter with a green moray some years ago – anyone remember what happened to ‘Psycho’?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh shut up! You are just stirring the pot.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hey Tim. I know picking up marine creatures is a concern, but is it OK to run them over with a police vehicle? Just asking what the expectations are here?

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  16. Anonymous says:

    The sheer lack of comments here and other news pieces on urgent environmental issues displays just how much residents care about the local environment. I challenge any reader of this article to just go back and compare the number of comments on articles pertaining to the environment to the number of comments on issues like same-sex marriage.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Your comment seems to indicate that you do not think Human Rights are important in Cayman? I think you commented on another article too-you must be so outraged. Let me give you a clue, if you care about wildlife and about kids at school then you are one of us, which means you ought to support same sex marriage too. Or are you one of those dog walkers that lets their dogs free on the beach to bound up to anyone and everyone saying “its alright, he’s friendly”? I don’t give a shit if he’s friendly, you are obliged by law to have him on a lead….

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  17. say it like it is says:

    All this is a storm in a seacup, we should concentrate on our local poachers who KILL our marine animals by the thousands in defiance of the law.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No, we should concentrate on all Law-breakers without fear or favor, something our law enforcement authorities repeatedly appear to prove themselves incapable of.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Check EE
      And Restaurants. . . as the rich get richer.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Its only illegal if you catch us!

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      • Anonymous says:

        That would be especially true for Little Cayman. Where is our Marine Officer?Restaurants buying illegal goods are never checked. What does the Marine Officer do all day?

        • Anonymous says:

          The Brac Marine officer use to do the work for the Marine officer over in Little Cayman he is no longer working for DOE. DOE don’t have the funds to keep boats in the water for the officers to do their jobs don’t worry the Brac will soon have another non Caymanian Marine Officer probably a friend of the Higher up. Wont need one after this season wont be anything left.

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    • Anonymous says:

      11:34 But Restaurants need lots of Conch and Lobster year round to honor their Social Media Advertised Menus…
      EE needs an MLA desperately, and has for years.

  18. Anonymous says:

    All DoE need to do is look through sites like Facebook and YouTube to identify breaches of the rules. There are plenty of photos on Facebook and videos on YouTube showing illegal handling of a stingrays and they all quite clearly identify not only the boats involved but also the guides doing it.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they should try pretty please because it seems like they dont intend to do anything about all this. There are hardly anymore starfish left at starfish point. I used to see plenty of conch at the sandbar at rum point but I havent seen any in a long time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Same with the conch at Breakers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dart needs to take more responsibility for those who utilise his land to access the Starfish. Nothing has been done about the beach parties, businesses or hoardes of tourists that walk though and use his land.
      Whilst it’s true that boat visits do contribute to the overall numbers visiting Starfish Point, the vast majority, not all, captains and crews are respectful of the creatures and the environment.
      The same cannot be said of the unguided groups that descend on the government parking lot and act out of total ignorance or without any regard for their irresponsible behaviour.
      Starfish Point is being destroyed by irresponsible tourism and entertainment, the Starfish are definitely fewer in numbers now and will probably be gone all together within a very short time.
      Where is CITA on this matter?

  20. Anonymous says:

    There are too many tour operators visiting the sandbar. Start banning the ones who violate the laws and abuse the animals and make the experience better for everyone.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    terrible!

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Where is the actual oversight? I thought DOE was supposed to have someone at the sandbar to enforce the regulations. On Saturday morning there were at least 25 boats and close to 300 people in the water, what is capacity at the sandbar?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do cruise ships passengers go to sting ray city to frolic. If so I guess once the piers are built we should expect a whole lot more abuse of the rays.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like a real enjoyable experience….limit the number of people at one time!

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    • Anonymous says:

      As many people as possible. Gotta make that money!

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    • Anonymous says:

      10:42 It’s whatever they can pack in. I’ve been out there when it was so crowded you had to be borderline insane (or a cruise shipper?) to risk getting off the boats.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Add in a few jetskis from Rum Point, piloted by unskilled tourists, and private boats with newbie owners and people who cannot swim, and you have near collisions happening routinely.

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        • Anonymous says:

          3:44 Or in other words it’s a complete clusterf*** out there?

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        • Anonymous says:

          3:44 Drunk tourists aplenty.
          Hungover/Drunk Tour Operators who you can find drinking at local bars nightly.
          And they sell alcohol on some Tours.

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    • Anonymous says:

      20 boats and 1000 people apparently.

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