Port excluded from new marine protections

| 15/03/2021 | 51 Comments
Cayman News Service
George Town Harbour, Grand Cayman

(CNS): One month before Cayman Islands voters go to the polls, four years after the proposed enhancements were ready for implementation and two years after Cabinet approved them, the government has finally gazetted the regulations defining the new marine park designations and rules. The enhanced regulations, which were ready to go in 2017 following public consultation led by the former environment minister, Wayne Panton, appear to have been implemented late Friday night. But although it has taken years to roll them out, the only major change to the proposals is that the George Town port area has been completely excluded from the protections.

The long awaited enhancements were designed to create consolidated areas where people can fish or take marine life to concentrate the protection needed for the dwindling marine resources and help ensure that the species in coastal waters today are still around for the next generation. The new zones increase the marine areas that will be protected to around 48% of coastal waters from around 14% in the past.

The major threats to our marine habitat, namely climate change, sea-level rise and coral disease, are hard to prevent but can be countered by better local management of controllable factors. This includes curtailing coastal development, which government appears to be ignoring. However, another major factor that can be controlled and offer some mitigation against the converging threats is managing what people are allowed to take from the ocean and from where.

This administration has sat on the proposals for several years, though it appears that very few changes have been made to the original recommendations given by the Department of Environment after years of extensive and prolonged consultation. But one major notable change is the removal of a significant part of the George Town Harbour’s marine park designation.

A large part of the harbour is now a port anchorage area, which is also set out in the new port regulations that were also gazetted on Friday.

Even though Premier Alden McLaughlin has stated publicly on several occasions that the PPM-led coalition no longer plans to build a cruise berthing facility and if they form the next government they will focus on stay-over tourism, the government has nevertheless excluded significant parts of the George Town Harbour, extending well beyond the port cargo area and traditional anchorage zones for the cruise ships.

While the PPM leader said at a recent press conference that it was clear the people did not support the cruise berthing project and that cruise tourism needed to be rethought, by cutting the area out of the marine parks protection, the government has left the door open to return to that proposal if and when it suits them, without having to address any legal challenges regarding marine protections.

The rest of the regulations lay out the protected areas where no one can take marine life of any kind at any time, and the designated areas where fishing can happened and certain marine life can be take in season. It also formalises a greater number of no dive zones.

Despite the importance of the roll out of these enhancements, Panton, who has been campaigning for the rollout of the new regulations, said he found it very odd that the gazetting has happened so silently.

See the full details of the marine park regulations and maps as well as the port authority regulations in the CNS Library.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (51)

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  1. SSM345 says:

    Got the referendum out the way. Got the marine park out the way. Any guesses as to what will happen next?

    Funny how MOT and the Kirkbots have been silent since Alden claimed to have seen the light on the pier project….

    I wonder why……

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well… that just changed two votes in my household. I approve of the way this government has handled the pandemic so far and would have voted for the Progressives candidate in my district, but we are so against the cruise port, we’re not going to take a chance that they’ll try to put that back through.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cruise port is dead, not voting for Progressives means that you believe the dead can be resurrected…the last time that, allegedly , happened was over 2000 years ago.

      Back in the real world, a vote for anyone other than progressives is a vote for a MacKeeva run government..

      • Anonymous says:

        How about i vote for a representative that isn’t useless, like the Progressive’s one I have now. McKeeva is a scare tactic, made even more scary when you can actually spell his name correctly.

        • Anonymous says:

          Glad your current progressive representative is not useless.
          Mac,….however you spell his name, is scary, agreed.

      • Anonymous says:

        We really have a short memory don’t we: it’s now a “cargo redevelopment” this time around. They’ll try anything to bury 9 figures into the least transparent ministry. Removing protected Marine Park designations, and folding this illegally into the CI Port’s dark remit is all part of this calculated conspiracy, and that’s exactly the correct term for this. Where do we sign the CPR objection to this illegal rezoning?!?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve done fishing charters in some of the proposed marine park areas for years and the fish were always abundant until red sail and captain marvins started dropping 100’s of snorkelers into the water everyday around them.

    Of course I’ll be the one to suffer now. I won’t even be able to offer reef fishing charters because of these regulations and hoards of snorkelers will continue to destroy the environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      “If we can just stop car buying …” = Utopia

      If can just implement Public transportation system, like the one they have in Bermuda…

      Public transport inadequacy, in the Cayman Islands case its complete abcense, is the main cause of traffic congestion in Grand Cayman, followed by difficulties for non-motorized transport – blatant lack of consideration for pedestrians and bicycles in the physical design of infrastructures and facilities.

  4. Anonymous says:

    As it should be.

  5. JTB says:

    This removes the best means of blocking a future cruise port. Hopefully someone will bring a legal challenge.

  6. Nothing is Free in this life Cayman ! says:

    Make no mistake Cayman you re-elect this unity rubbish government it will be interpreted to be a mandate for them to go back at this port rubbish yet again .Already we see legislation to make this happen contrary to the lying tongue of our dear leader and his development at all cost disciples of destructions. Save our Coral Cayman it built this island we stand on Today! It’s time to give it a break remove This so called Covid Free vaccine government using a pandemic to buy Votes how low can one go to get re-elected Cayman!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pathetic. And expected.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not expected, and no CPR action currently to opposite what was an illegal Cabinet rezoning.

  8. Always two steps behind says:

    The long awaited enhancements were designed to create consolidated areas where people can fish or take marine life to concentrate the protection needed for the dwindling marine resources and help ensure that the species in coastal waters today are still around for the next generation.

    What a load of BS! Addressing the over population is what is needed to curb the over fishing of marine life.

    Doesn’t anyone want to discuss this? No backbone at all.

    The real threat isn’t the exclusion of some imaginery marine parks but, the real god damn problem is the over populated, over crowded, packed and teeming Island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bermuda is much smaller and has larger population.

    • Although I agree that population is the root of all our biggest problems including over-fishing, our take from the reef became unsustainable almost as soon as tourism took off in the 1960’s and ’70’s. Our reef fish were visibly declining by 1980. So, to solve over-fishing of what little remains just by changing our population would require going back to 16,000 residents with very little tourism and that is NOT going to be our solution today. I am convinced that the extremely low numbers of our favorite food species on Grand Cayman’s reefs are going to need even more new regulations than just the expansion of the marine park if we hope to restore them to their previous glory. IF we do THAT, over time Caymanians will be able to drop a line and catch a big grouper or snapper in minutes, like it was in the ’60’s. Fail and one species after another may soon be lost. I believe the best solutions after expansion of the parks could include a free Caymanian ONLY fishing license and a reasonable daily catch limit. Tourists and expats can pay for a hook and release license to help fund enhanced enforcement and keep charter fishing alive. Charging visiting divers a parks fee can also help fund enforcement (which everyone agrees needs enhancement).

  9. Anonymous says:

    Not voting since there is nothing good to vote for. Electing new politicians into a system that is corrupt will never change anything.

    When you all get that through your thick skulls then, just maybe we will finally have a fight on our hands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Changing the order of the numbers we are adding, does not change the sum.

      If you want different results, you have to try different approaches.

    • Anon says:

      If you are a registered voter and don’t take the time to vote, you are part of the problem and thus have no grounds to complain. If you don’t like you current MP, then make the effort to speak to whoever is running against them to find out why there platform is. If you sit around complaining and don’t let your voice (vote) be heard, nothing will change

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m in total agreement, let’s close George Town to all boats, wave runners, Cargo, Cruise traffic forever. We will have to shut down all fishing except outside of the drop-off areas. Then we will see how fast the fish, lobster and corals will grow. Let us not forget that divers take things such as lobsters also. Not all divers do it but if we are going this road it has to be across the board. It’s kind of like Covid, everyone has to wear a mask. Since tourism has closed down it has been wonderful. You can enjoy the beaches, the service has been very good at bars and restaurants. If we can just stop car buying the air will not only be cleaner but less repairs to the roads. Imagine if we could get a bus every 5 min. whatever happened to those busses they used with the Cruise ships? Could we use those? We have free bus service in town now. I’ve heard they are full some time of the day.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Let us not forget that divers take things such as lobsters also”
      Pompous idiot. Every single diver I know is highly conscious of NOT taking lobster on air (unfair AND illegal). Not saying there won’t be a few bad apples but your comment is absolute and incredibly wrong. You are obviously NOT a diver.

      Side note – I read the riot act to the odd arsehole diver if I see lion fishing and feeding them to other marine life which is highly frowned upon.

  11. Anonymous says:

    We also need to get the existing officers working instead up holed-up at Cafe del Sol in Country Mart, Savannah!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Alden and Moses are something else ..Do they really believe that by doing this that the people of these islands won’t stand up to them again..

    Alden needs another Christmas miracle on April 14.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Not a big loss. The bottom is barren off town. Now that the dock is dead, the truth can be told. 500+ years of anchoring has taken its toll.

    • JTB says:

      The cruise dock isn’t dead, it’s only sleeping. And the bottom isn’t barren, but it will be, if they get to build their monstrosity.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you ever even dived or snorkeled in town!? I beg to differ. The reef is very much still alive!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Any chance these fools could publish maps that you can actually read?!

  15. Anonymous says:

    The echos of almost two decades of maladministration.

  16. Anonymous says:

    It’s a port.

    Get used to it.

    Should they move it to a pristine location and destroy that too.


  17. Anonymous says:

    In 10 days the movie Seaspiracy premieres on Netflix. In it, Dr. Sylvia Earle, a career deep sea explorer, oceanographer, former head of NOAA, and Mission Blue Founder, talks about the frail state of our oceans and its connection to humanity’s survival. Several years ago Dr Earle was in Grand Cayman for the International Underwater Film Festival where she dove GT Harbour and added it to her list of Mission Blue “Hope Spots”. Sadly, none of our politicians seem to understand the legacy financial benefit to the people of the Cayman Islands of protecting our marine ecology as well as we should. It’s particularly surprising, considering the thousands of resident scuba divers and tourism business that deliver votes. Even more baffling that we should find ourselves to be the (homeless) home of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame – a tourism attraction that these same knuckleheads can’t seem to get behind. Go figure.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would they listen to Silvia Earle when they won’t listen to us.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a bloody working harbor, ships propellers and moving heavy things, has been since Columbus found it.
      If you want to dive and snorkel, there are hundreds of other sites.

    • Anonymous says:

      Knuckleheads? Maybe that explains the lack of co-operation. Very condescending and disrespectful tone.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why should any respect be paid to those who exhibit none? Respect is earned.

      • Anonymous says:

        I thought I was being polite. Knucklehead means stupid: which is a perfect descriptor for the liars who are hell-bent on destroying one of our top five tourism attractions – and one of the few that doesn’t actually cost the paying public millions in artificial subsidies each year. Before you ask, “liars” in this instance, are politicians that promise the “Port redevelopment” is dead, while simultaneously annexing the marine park Mission Blue Hope Spot into an area of CI Port administration. Maybe liar is too kind a word as well.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This deceptive government action led by the Progressives is another reason why we MUST NOT VOTE FOR ANY PPM, PROGRESSIVE,UDP, UNITY, OR ALLIANCE MEMBERS!

    They deceptively give with one hand while taking with the other hand, cannot be trusted.

    Alden, Mac and the other members of the gang are making a promise for no cruise port while at the same time making plans for it to happen.


  19. Anonymous says:

    Standard operating procedure from crooks. Not sure why we should be surprised!

  20. Anonymous says:

    If the amount protected has risen from around 14% to 48%, I’d like to assume that the budget for such protection has also gone up commensurately? So we can have more officers actively monitoring the areas.

    • Anonymous says:

      They can’t even handle the incompetent officers working there now. They sink every boat they get and can’t even get a conviction when a conch gets thrown at their head. Ask about that court case, it was on 27 Jan.
      The Uber expensive patrol boat that they have, and sunk quickly after purchase,was also a huge waste of money. Ask about that too. What a farce. Maybe also ask why one marine officer just left, I think he wrote one hell of a damning resignation letter!

    • Anonymous says:

      Just monitoring is no good, we need an effective action plan which future administrations are forced to follow regardless of their numptyness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep dreaming buddy!

    • Anonymous says:

      5:20 what ever the Government do they will be CRITICIZE!

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