CPR plan action over loss of GT marine protection

| 20/04/2021 | 11 Comments
Cayman News Service
George Town Harbour, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The Unity Government’s removal of marine protections in the George Town Harbour and the creation of a port designation is set to become the grounds for further legal action by Shirley Roulstone of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign, as the activists continue their quest to prevent the development of a cruise berthing facility and protect the reefs. Because of this and other moves by the last administration, Roulstone and her activist colleagues believe that, despite what former premier Alden McLaughlin has said, the port project is by no means dead in the water. Without a referendum on this project, they believe it could easily be resurrected by another PPM administration.

Roulstone’s attorneys have written to the Attorney General’s Chamber ahead of a likely judicial review application challenging the need for the port designation to cover such a significant area of the harbour. The letter expresses concerns that the removal of the protected status of the George Town Harbour is contrary to National Conservation Law and inconsistent with the explicit goals of the law to conserve and protect marine life.

In the letter the lawyers say that the protected areas, species and critical habitats are jeopardised by the new port regulations, which and go way beyond the specific area of reef in the newly demarcated “anchorage zone” but also cover the adjacent reefs, which are at material risk of being adversely affected by allowing anchorage anywhere in that zone.

“We consider that the new anchorage zone will impair life on the entire reef system of which Soto’s Reef and others in the George Town area form a part,” the letter notes. “Anchoring can take place in sandy areas as it has done over the years in a manner which does not damage the reefs and which can be monitored and regulated. We do not accept that the protected status of George Town Harbour needs to be removed.”

Concerns have also been raised by the dive community and conservationists about the Cali Shipwreck being included in the port zone and anchorage site. It will now require tour operators and divers to seek written permission to dive at one of Grand Cayman’s most popular underwater locations. Given that no cruise ships anchor on the Cali (a shallow artificial reef that has evolved into a national cultural heritage site), activists believe it makes no sense to include this area.

The matter of the cruise berthing project remains a central concern for CPR. The lawyers state that their client is very concerned that the rezoning was intended to facilitate potential development of the George Town port, as indicated in an affidavit by the tourism ministry’s chief officer, Stran Bodden, in the recent judicial review proceedings brought by Roulstone in 2019 on behalf of CPR. In those documents Bodden challenges the National Trust’s statement regarding the marine protections afforded the reefs in the George Town Harbour under the National Conservation Law, stating that the “protected area will be changed to accommodate the Project”.

If the government has not amended the regulations to facilitate the redevelopment of the George Town port but merely to regularize the sandy anchorage areas within the previously designated marine park zone, the lawyers ask government to confirm that within the next fourteen days and to reform the port regulations to incorporate only the relevant sandy anchorage area free of coral and to reinstate the marine park protections for the harbour reefs.

“We consider that well-managed anchorage rules can ensure that anchoring can take place as it has done before while George Town Harbour remains a marine park but not jeopardising any of the reefs. Anchoring in that way has been carried out for years in a manner that is sensitive to its surrounding area as a marine park,” the lawyers write, noting that without this confirmation Roulstone will take action.

In a viewpoint published on CNS, Roulstone outlined her concerns further and points to the outgoing government’s failure to honour the people’s referendum. She stressed the point that the port issue is not dead and her intention to go back to court again if she must.

“CPR Cayman is alive and well,” she said. “Times are changing and we are not taking things sitting down quietly anymore.”

In addition to questions relating to the port designation and removal of the marine protections, Roulstone has also raised concerns about the continued existence of a team within the Major Projects Division of the Public Works Department to design a cruise berthing facility for the George Town Port.

CNS contacted the PWD and its director, Troy Whorms, echoed the former premier’s comments that the cruise berthing project was closed, as of March last year, and “there are no instruction issued to any staff of PWD from any stakeholder to continue any works pertaining to the Cruise Berthing Project”.

Whorms added that the future priorities of the government’s major projects will be made by the future government, and asked us to “direct any further questions to the Office of the Premier at the appropriate time and allow the appropriate Ministry to answer accordingly”.

Requests about where the individual civil servant who had been employed to head up this project and who remains with the department is now working were not answered by the director.

CNS has also contacted the port authority, requesting documents that support the director’s position that the port had to be designated this way as a result of international and safety issues. We are awaiting a response regarding those inquiries.

See Roulstone’s VP: The port issue is not dead

See the letter before action in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Intelligent people know that NO port anywhere in the world is in the middle of an environmentally protected marine park. When the marine parks law and protected zone came into force in the 1980s the port should never had been included in the first place because the port had been in its location for almost 300 years since Cayman was first settled. The port and the oil terminal sea berth are in their locations for very obvious reasons.

  2. Dexter Layman Ebanks says:

    Hello Shirley = If there’s any new developments “DON’T HESITATE IN CONTACTING ME” at dextersfantaseatours@gmail.com or 916/0754
    Keep up the Good Fight =

    Dexter Layman Ebanks

  3. Anonymous says:

    PACT will hopefully rip back the velvet curtains on many cushy SAGCs and idle departments and shine the light in. You can almost hear the paper shredders at CI Port Authority. Call the exterminator.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How can the referendum just be forgotten when it had all the signatures you need?

    • Anonymous says:

      The referendum as submitted and the Govts. decision to abandon the port project left two choices:

      a) Vote yes or no on a project that is no longer a project (since the referendum request was specific to the project then proposed), but would not be binding on say a proposal to expand the cargo operations of the GT port; or

      b) Don’t bother to vote because its a non-issue.

      If you somehow feel that there should be a vote on ANY future port works could ever happen in GT under any future circumstances, or not, (or some variation on that theme) that’s a different petition. Because CPR wisely realised that a referendum topic that broad was unlikely to win so that’s not what their petition-signers asked for the vote on.

  5. QAnon says:

    The lies and desperation of the PPM continue to unravel every week.

    The public cannot trust them as they are controlled by the deep state. They do not work in the best interests of the majority based on their track record.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is the National Trust going to be continuing its fight to support Shirley and CPR in its battle? Two are better than one and after all – the NT membership gave their strong support to do so. Has the NT gone to sleep?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CPR and all Rascals!

  8. Johann Moxam says:

    Thank your Shirley Roulstone for your bravery, tenacity, perseverance and patriotism.

    You will aways be a national hero in my eyes.

    Best regards

    Johann Moxam

  9. Anonymous says:

    GO FOR IT SHIRLEY!! They think we are as stupid as they are. Sneaky snakes are sneaky
    We are right back out there with you!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all of the time! Everything touched by the PPM is tainted with ulterior motives! Of course the cruise berthing dock is not dead but we will fight! No longer will we be beholden to these puppet masters! No longer!!!

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