Port marine life still protected, say officials

| 24/03/2021 | 14 Comments
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(CNS): The George Town Harbour, which is now an anchorage zone and no longer a marine park after new regulations were implemented, is still protected because it remains a no-take zone, officials from the Port Authority and the Department of Environment have said. The new zoning also means that in future, divers will need to get permission from the port to dive famous sites, such as the Wreck of the Cali. There has been public concern about the re-designation of the harbour, but with the port adopting the regulations and the overall increase in protected areas, the marine life in Cayman waters is still facing a more hopeful future.

Speaking at a government press briefing on Friday about the implementation of the new marine park enhancements, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said the important point about the change in the George Town Harbour, which resulted in setting aside the anchorage zone, is that marine life will still be protected.

“The species protections that are in the Marine Reserve Regulations have been mirrored in the Port Authority Regulations, so there will still be no fishing allowed and no taking of marine life within the designated port anchorage area. So, from the perspective of the species protections, we haven’t lost anything,” Ebanks-Petrie stated.

Port Director Joseph Woods explained that the formal designated zone in place now is smaller than the previous area that was treated as such before these new regulations were rolled out. He said the anchorage area used to run from shore to drop-off, between Eden Rock almost to the former Treasure Island Resort. But now the formal Marine Park Zone takes over Eden Rock and the coastline down towards Seven Mile Beach. “What we have is a practical anchorage area that is more into the white sand bottom,” he noted.

Encouraged to explain why the anchorage zone has been formally included by Premier Alden McLaughlin, Woods said that the main reason why the port anchorage area has been removed from the Marine Park Zone is for both safety reasons and to remove the ambiguity for captains of vessels who may be concerned about anchoring in a marine park.

Ebanks-Petrie also confirmed that, despite the long wait on these regulations, which were ready almost four years ago with the exception of a slight addition to fishing areas and the creation of the port anchorage zone, there were no other changes to the recommendations that had been made by her department.

The DoE began the consultation on the need to expand marine protections more than a decade ago, based on the science and data the department’s experts have collected since the marine parks were first introduced in the 1980s.

The new regulations significantly increase species protection and go some way to halt the evident decline in marine resources due to growing threats. Ebanks-Petrie explained that, in addition to wider global challenges, fishing was having a greater adverse effect than had been thought.

“During the course of our work we discovered that local fishing pressure is higher than previously believed,” she said. “It was evident that climate change, national population growth, development trajectory will continue to apply pressures on our marine environment.” She explained that fishing resources must be managed if Cayman is to preserve resources for the future, and that marine parks and no-take regulations are proven to work.

With the rollout of the new zones and rules, Ebanks-Petrie said that in the first six months DoE enforcement officers will be concentrating on educating people using the water in areas where the rules have changed rather than enforcement to give fisherfolk and divers a chance to get used to the new rules. But there will be no free passes for people breaking the existing rules in previously protected areas, she warned.

The new rules largely affect the fishing community but divers are also impacted. They are no longer able to dive in the port and new no-dive zones have also been carved out in the new marine regulations. But by and large the rules are much simpler, as no one is supposed to take any marine life from marine park designated areas at any time except for catch and release fishing and the collection of fries. This should make enforcement much easier since it will be clear whether or not a person is breaching the rules.

Fishing and marine take is now confined to specific areas where existing seasonal, catch quantity, size and species limitations all still apply.

See the full regulations and new maps here and in the CNS Library.

For more information visit the DoE website, email doe@gov.ky or call 949 8469.

Brochures and maps are also now in circulation showing the new designations and outlining the new rules.

See the press conference below on CIGTV:

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

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands are a little territory in the NW Caribbean.

    It imports 99% of what it consumes.

    Unless some smart person comes up with an alternative location for the GT port then we are stuck anchoring in GT harbour.

    Christ, it is a port, it is what it is.

    Ships have to anchor and destroy what is left out there (particularly because we don’t have proper port docking capabilities) and we are not smart enough to create permanent moorings.

  2. Anonymous says:


    19 new faces!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree but for the sake of sanity leave the new batch of insincere bottom feeders under water.

      Never heard so much pandering to the environmental lobby in my life.

  3. Richard Wadd says:

    Gina Petrie is a Civil Servant, she is not a MLA. She cannot make Laws or change them, she can only try and steer the MLA’s through suggestion. Compared to what out Govt. wanted to do, I think it is only fair to say that she has done VERY well to get any sort of compromise from Govt. and we should be showing our gratitude for her efforts.
    So who really is to blame? Look in the mirror, for these MLA’s are elected by the people, to do the bidding of the people.

  4. Anonymous says:

    They can make the whole island a marine park it wont help because there is no habitat for juvenile fish left.

  5. Anonymous says:

    They make rules for expats. They don’t enforce rules for Caymanians. This has worked for generations. It still works now. Do whatever you want. Nothing will change.

  6. JTB says:

    The protection that has been lost is the protection against Government building a cruise berth and in the process destroying the critically endangered coral in GT harbour

    The dishonesty of this government is sickening, and the complicity of the DOE in this process is appalling.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only way that a cruise port will be built is if Mac is the next Premier , and invites the Chinese to carry on where his last administration left off.
      Vote carefully, you know his lust for power will have to involve the new “independents” who will be flattered by his offers of ministerial positions.

    • Anonymous says:

      What specific protection do you think has been lost?

  7. Anonymous says:

    A matter of months ago, we had a variety of Cayman-specific activities from scuba diving, snorkeling, and snuba operators, to glass-bottom boat, and submarine businesses – all running their eco-tourism businesses/tours within the unique and species diverse attractions now open for general CI Port Anchorage. Over a quarter of Cayman’s registered voters opposed this type of high-handed action via petition less than 2 years ago. Gina Petrie Ebanks is not fit to be head of DOE if she is willing to disregard all of these voter’s wishes, and gift away all that will be lost forever via 30,000lb cruise ship anchors and chain by privately conceding this deal without any public consultation period. It’s disgusting, it’s embarrassing, and it’s wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is pure ignorance. Gina is doing the best she can without any support from Government.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean you object to the port anchorage where the ships have been anchoring remaining a port anchorage? If so take it up with someone other than Gina. If anything she got some of the reef out from under the port anchorage so I can see how she might see that as a win.

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