Minister freezes licences for Stingray City

| 06/12/2019 | 55 Comments
Cayman News Service
Stingray City, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour has announced a freeze on licences given to commercial operators selling trips to the Sandbar and Stingray City because of the overcrowding. Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has flagged this issue several times recently but it was Seymour who told the Legislative Assembly on Thursday that constraints on the Department of Environment led them to team up with the new coastguard to uphold the new capping policy and general enforcement at Cayman’s top attraction.

Seymour said there had been several complaints about the problems at the Sandbar, where over 200 boats are already licensed to take paying customers. There are, however, already a significant number of restrictions at the Wild Life Interaction Zone, including a limit of 1,500 people at the location at any one time and only 20 boats.

Each boat is limited to 100 passengers under the licensing rules. Boat operators are barred from taking paying passengers into the Sandbar area after 2pm on weekends and 3pm on public holidays.

Seymour said Caymanian boat operators working in the North Sound were being taken advantage of by the system, where hotels are using only one or two well known watersports operators.

“Then the same operators are trying to grab up the majority business in the North Sound,” Seymour said. “We are taking the necessary steps to curb that practice to ensure that Caymanian boat operators are not disadvantaged. Regulations and rules are being made to enable the necessary changes.”

Seymour said new measures were being put in place giving clear guidelines to the users and a sense of safety and security to the visitors to our shores while creating a better and more intimate experience.

Capt Eugene Ebanks, his ministry councillor, has also been working on boating safety policies, paving the way for training for all boat captains to create new boat captain licences to those who are successful. Ebanks said that the problems in the North Sound go back a long way.

“We can’t continue to allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to do as they choose and continue to push these North Sound operators out of business,” he said.

“They are the ones that created the biggest tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands who are being pushed out of the business because they cannot compete with the multi-million dollar operators who already control Seven Mile Beach businesses,” he added in a rare contribution to the proceedings.

During questions after the speech, Opposition Leader Arden McLean said the main problem with Stingray City is the lack of enforcement in the area, but the government was putting a moratorium on business. Kirkconnell confirmed that the coastguard was going to enforce the law at the attraction in what will now be a joint effort. .

It also provided an opportunity for Speaker McKeeva Bush to again voice his emphatic support for the government’s proposed cruise port project, despite being in a live parliamentary session. The speaker, who is expected to remain a neutral figure, insisted that the problems at Stingray City will not be solved until there is cruise berthing facilities to allow more time to take people to this attraction without crowding it out.


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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Government and the Support The Port group, which the Speaker so obviously supports, has just shot themselves in the foot with this freeze on WIZ licenses due to overcrowding at the WIZ.

    Cant wait to hear the spin of how more tourists on island is a good thing when they they now saying they need to limit the tourists.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That’s just because we have not been shown the master plan the Lodge, Dart, etc. have put together. Yes Stingray City is at or beyond capacity but they don’t connect that to the port project. What they don’t say is we will build many other things, artificial tacky things the rest of the region has, on the little remaining land (Barkers anyone?) in order to accommodate all these tourists. The cruise lines will sell the name Grand Cayman which is meant to be a distinctive stop and give their customers the same crap they give them everywhere else. So there is no need for spin because there is no conflict between overcrowding at current attractions and increasing tourist numbers. This is what they won’t say but is the assumption and plan on which they are operating.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What Coastguard? Two officers and no men. Police Marine Unit are decimated and barely functioning, and none of them want to move over it appears. The big boat never moves because there is no crew. Border protection roles, and then you give them a tourist sandbar. Soemthing has to give here.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Tell me how mega cruise ship passengers are going to fit on the sandbar ?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I feel a lot better knowing that John John and Capt Who Gene are sorting things out.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    This whole country is overcrowded! Can we double down on the amount of work permits we hand out each month as well??

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  6. Anonymous says:

    So this proves exactly what opponents of the port are saying
    Where are we going to put the hundreds of thousands of extra visitors?

    Anyone who votes for the port is a fool

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    • Anonymous says:

      It seems that you don’t understand that there are 365 days in the year (and 366 days when we have a leap year). If we need to find space for 365k more visitors we can add 1k per day to the existing which may cause havoc or we can add 5k to 73 slow or vacant days of the year that are not busy and be able to accommodate the 365k for the year. I will be voting “YES” and I am no fool.

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      • Cheese Face says:

        Disagree with your last sentence.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “And I am no fool” lmfao 😂😂

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      • Anonymous says:

        We should put you in charge, you have the ability to dictate when tourists visit the island? If it was as simple as “we can add 5k to 73 slow or vacant days of the year that are not busy” then don’t you think our tourism industry would be busy year round? Your last sentence is a blatant lie.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Don’t worry though, you know what we need 600,000 more annual visitors

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Great use of a Coast Guard!!!!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Once again, Govt is pushing to bowl over good Caymanian watersports businesses.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds to me it’s politricks taking aim at Red Sail. Shame on them… Red Sail has been a well run gem for decades. The LAST thing we need is 200,000 MORE cruise tourists at the Sandbar?!? Local operators only get $15 per head while the Cruise Ships charge $80- instead we should attract better hotel customers where the Tour Boats get 100%.
      Say NO to Cruise Ship Port! Say NO to Politicians! Say NO to Moses and Mac and greedy tricks.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And yet despite all those years to train and mentor, what percentage of their crews are Caymanian?

        It is a fair question. These guys are not engaged in brain surgery, and their craft was literally invented by Caymanians.

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        • Anonymous says:

          What? Sailing was invented by Caymanians? While I agree it would be nice if more locals worked on these boats I must remind you that the locals would rather work on other boats that are more relaxed with their protocols and their friends are on them too. I live on a canal where many of these boats pass by and they are filled with local crew whom are drinking going out and drinking come back. Red Sail wouldn’t allow that.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Huh?? Red Sails craft invented by Caymanians? Please illustrate how their entire commercial fleet that was built in either Louisiana , Florida or the U.S. Virgin Islands had anything to do with hath being founded on the seas . Sailing boats have been around for +4,000 years , boats that can bow land on a beach slightly less.

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  10. anon says:

    So are the Coastguard going to visit each ship and check their licences. Are they also going to stop them when departing the sandbar and count the passengers to see if the exceed 200. If there are 20 boats on site will they stop others anchoring until boats have left. Also if only 20 boats are allowed at one time each with a limit of 200 passengers (total 2,000) how are they going to enforce the overall limit of 1500 passengers at any one time.
    As for Mr Bush when is he ever going to learn to keep his mouth shut and not express his personal opinion on every matter before the house.

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  11. Concerned says:

    Limit of 1,500 at any one time seems about 1,000 too many!

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  12. Anonymous says:

    So is the Speaker saying that to regulate the traffic in the north sound and sting ray city we will have to forgo C.I. $ 6,000,000 or so (whatever the cost is on day of completion – if that happens) to bring in the mega ships with millions more tourists to slow down the traffic? BTW even though the constitution permits I believe no sitting member of the LA., should simultaneously be the Speaker, especially one who has problems controlling his mouth. Also I am pleased to see that Rip Van Winkle is still alive and well.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Overcrowding of this beautiful gem will be the end of it. The daily limit should be cut in half! These stingrays should not be bombarded with thousands of visitors everyday.

    Pure greed, and the inability to say NO to greedy people, will be the end of Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. Talk about closing the barn door with the fox inside. This should have been properly regulated many many years ago. Traffic in the north sound, mega cruise ships, the wall on seven mile beach, traffic jam from East End to west bay didn’t happen overnight(well except the wall) where has the government been ? I have said it before and I will say it again – the government needs to scrap the port project and all other pie in the sky/ nightmares and try to partner up with businesses and persons locally to come up with some real solutions and amenities to comfortably accommodate the numbers of tourists that we presently attract. Stop fraternizing with foreign entities to make them richer while locally we are all struggling to keep up.

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  14. Sunrise says:

    Every Tom, Dick and Harry is carrying passengers for the cruise ships!!! Put a limit on how many prebookings the cruise ships can book so the smaller operators can survive also. Go by Morgan’s harbour when Royal Caribbean is in and you will see what I am saying. Building piers will only put more power in the cruise ships hands. No thank you, no piers!!!!!!

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Good thing we’re getting a new port so we can get noir tourists here – but where will they go if they can’t go to Stingray City? Oh well, I guess they’ll just have to go to ol’ Moses’ jewelry stores.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Did I read the last sentence right?

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Let’s start prosecuting. Big time. Ex-pat AND Caymanian tour operators. Big fines. Confiscate boats. Rip up licences. Ban from running a business for several years….Won’t happen because they all know someone who knows someone and will go bleating to them about how unfair it all is. That’s the Cayman way and that’s how it goes here.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Third world operators, third world Government and you get third world problems at the sand bar being fixed by the third world minister who created the problem in the first place. Cayman. Get used to it. It can not fix itself.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Another boot heel on the necks of lawful Caymanian people. Who soiled the pool?

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    • Anonymous says:

      You’ll need to explain that comment. Are you willing to do that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Who sold it out in the first place? Oh yea, Caymanians!
      The same people who incompetently govern these islands, fail to enforce or observe its laws and who are intent on destroying it for future generations.
      You must be so proud of your achievements.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Great news!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please tell McKeeva that his thoughts and sentiments are irrelevant just like he is. This man is inaptly unqualified to be holding such an honorable position as Speaker. He needs to retreat to his days of pushing lawn mowers at the airport.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva’s statement defies logic- instead he should have said that if they go ahead with the cruise piers to accommodate mega ships more preople would be acessing the north sounds and sting ray city because :

    1. More people would be coming to the Islands
    2. The corals in the Harbour would be destroyed so no scuba / snorkel activities would be
    happening in the there, therefore more people would be crowding the north sound and
    Stingray city.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    100 passengers on a single boat? What kind of experience are we selling?

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  24. Anonymous says:

    How does grandfathering bad actors and eliminating any responsible new competitors, fix the animal abuses? They aren’t lifting them out of the water because of too many people…just too many idiot operators, who have now been rewarded.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    …and when are the known offenders going to be arrested and prosecuted, and have their licenses revoked?

    No enforcement as usual. No wonder people think we are corrupt….

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    • Anonymous says:

      People think we are corrupt because we are corrupt!

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    • Anonymous says:

      An example of criminal neglect on behalf of Caymanian operators.
      Did you know that the guy charged with manslaughter earlier this year for his part in the deaths of two innocent men and the almost fatal injuries to an accompanying woman, is back out operating on the NS?

      This is the kind of negligent behavior that Cayman condones, along with the failure to test vessels for commercial use to US or UK standards, enforce insurance coverage, no requirement for boat captains to have a formally recognized international qualification and no effective enforcement of anything.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    How ironic, save stingray city but dig up George Town Harbour.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    So the Speaker thinks the cruise dock will, ‘allow more time to take people to this attraction without crowding it out’? What next? Open it 24/7? The reason there are time restrictions on Stingray City is that excessive interaction with tourists is harmful to the stingrays. Is he really that dumb? If you lift the cut-offs, which is what he appears to suggest, I can pretty much guarantee that ‘attraction’ will be gone in 12 months.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Better late than never? What they now need to do is shut down all the operators abusing those licences and the WIZ rules.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    It is time for the original people who built picnic lunch and Stingray city who are not part of the diving cartel to have the only place they can do business for them only. How can it be fair for over 100 dive companies to also offer stingray city when they have 150 reefs they can offer to their customers. It’s unfair competition. The North Sound operators have always only worked in the North Sound. Can snorkelers see down to 40-50 ft? Or do a drop off dive snorkeling ? You just can’t see that far. It’s time the Government protect the small businesses that belong to us.

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    • Anonymous says:

      6:26 Interesting point but can you name the dive operators doing Stingray City? The reason I ask is that nobody I dive with puts boats out there and they haven’t done it for a long while. I last did a dive out there in the mid-1990s.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ummm, Stingray city was a dive site that is no longer used. The sandbar is where the stingrays are, and diving has been prohibited there for years.

        • Anonymous says:

          11:53 Do you have any idea about what’s going on out there or are you just posting because you’ve got nothing better to do?

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          • Anonymous says:

            I absolutely know what is going on. I have been feeding stingrays at the sandbar since 1973.

            A different site, closer to the main channel and in deep water was created in the late 1980’s in an attempt to provide a similar experience for scuba divers. That site was marketed as stingray city. The sandbar started to be called stingray city erroneously, but particularly when the whole stingray city project was abandoned, the name transferred to the sandbar.

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