Task force begins work on 7MB erosion

| 11/08/2021 | 139 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Premier Wayne Panton has committed to developing an action plan that will include short-, medium- and long-term proposals to address the myriad issues surrounding the erosion at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach. Last week Panton and staff from the Department of Environment met with Hermes Cuello, the manager of the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, which is one of the properties with the most beach erosion as well as being one of the structures that is likely adding to the problem.

The current erosion along a more than a mile long stretch of the world famous beach has shocked residents and sparked public calls to take down the concrete structures on the beach and put a freeze on Seven Mile Beach development.

“Everybody has seen the videos and photographs of what has been happening here over sometime now,” Panton said on the visit to what is left of the beach in the area. “It is a significant concern and…. we need to find a longer term solution.” He warned that short-term fixes won’t last because the beach needs to be stabilised. He said the beach is a national asset, not just for tour operators but all Caymanians.

“My approach… is about promoting sustainability,” he said. “We are looking at the erosion issue and our action plan through a lens of sustainability,” Panton stated, as he explained the creation of a task force that will develop the plan.

As minister for sustainability and climate resiliency, Panton chaired a meeting yesterday with Planning Minister Jay Ebanks, Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan and their senior civil service teams, where both the historical and current work to address the issue was discussed. Officials said the group will convene again next Monday to begin mapping out a collaborative approach to developing and implementing solutions.

“It is expected that any approach will focus on sustainable solutions that strive to achieve the ‘triple bottom line’ of environmental, social and economic benefits,” DoE staff said in a social media post. “Climate resilience will also play a role in any considerations.”

The focus is on the significant level of erosion, which technical experts at the DoE say is caused by a combination of factors but that the main issues are development on the beach in the face of rising sea levels, fuelled by climate change.

On Monday the United Nations released a landmark report which indicated that climate change is spiraling out of control. One of the many issues directly related to climate change is sea level rise, which will present an ongoing challenge for the Cayman Islands, already listed in the top 30 countries most vulnerable to sea level rise.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change points out that the deadly heat waves, massive hurricanes and other weather extremes that are already happening will only become more severe. Sea level rise is caused by both the increase in ocean temperatures, which causes the water to expand, and rapidly melting glaciers and ice caps that are flowing into the sea.

Greenland’s sheet of land-ice is “virtually certain” to continue melting and raising the sea level, which will continue to rise for centuries to come as the oceans warm and expand, the report has warned.

The Earth has not been as warm as it is now since the Pliocene Epoch roughly three million years ago, and scientists are now warning things could easily get worse if warming triggers feedback loops that release even more climate-warming carbon emissions, such as the melting of Arctic permafrost or the dieback of global forests.

Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century, the scientists have said.

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Category: Climate Change, Science & Nature

Comments (139)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Okay, so the task force has begun its work

    The question is when will it end?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I propose a new competition: the ugliest new build (say within the past ten years) on the island.

    From the consensus of posts here, I nominate the Baghdad Souk On The Beach and the House of Stairs on South Sound Road. All other nominations welcome.

    Realtors love the term “award-winning” and the industry hands them out out like a war’s just ended. The new Hyatt, for example, is award-winning, presumably in the “best-hole-in-the-ground” category.

    So here’s another opportunity for a proud new homeowner to win a truly meaningful gong. It would be accompanied by a modest sign to hang outside the house proclaiming “Voted Ugliest House in Cayman 2021!” To some, that could be a decisive selling point.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A recent MIT study suggests that part of the answer may be tearing down everything built within reach of the waves and planting sea grass. Sounds like an environmentally friendly solution to me.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Just dont use the same big brain dude who gave us the plastic boardwalk, South Sound Barcadere fiasco. And the junk cars tax waiver too!

    • Anonymous says:

      The South Sound boardwalk is a very popular addition enabling walkers to enjoy a safe seaside walk.
      The material used, unlike timber, will not warp, rot, or need constant painting and staining.
      Suggest you think before you hate .

  5. satirony says:

    5.56 pm. The DoE is a department of Government and so cannot sue Government. They have been ring-fenced, ignored and belittled by successive administrations, in spite of the incredible scientific work they do. Blaming them for not suing Gov. is like blaming Fauci for Covid 19.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Critical thinking time! Beach erosion is not caused by buildings or seawalls.

    It is caused by ocean currents, waves and rip tides, and even wind.

    Buildings close to the ocean only make beach erosion more APPARENT.

    If the buildings or seawalls were not in thew way, the beach erosion would just go further into land, until the currents, waves, tides shifted. Then the sand would be moved in a different direction again.

    This phenomenon has been occurring for millions of years on earth.

    Buildings have not created beach erosion.

    Sorry to disappoint the cult of hysterics and climate change.

    Bahamians for example have been familiar with this issue for decades and have some something about it decades ago. Here is the island of Grand Bahama, observe the rock piers on the beaches to block currents and prevent/limits sidewards erosion. It works quite well.


  7. Anonymous says:

    sea level rise

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, and the sky is also falling.

    • Anonymous says:

      Incompetent civil service and refusal to equally apply and enforce laws, seemingly in consequence of questionable “preference” for certain “investors.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    I took a very wet walk this past weekend up there….I once had a chance to buy a condo in Laconia (maybe 20 yrs ago, 15?) and I’ll be honest…right now I’m glad I didn’t despite the increase in values…even that beach could be in trouble…cayman club is clearly starting to be in trouble….sovereigns? Oh my, I could t believe what I was seeing…and then I had to swim around to darts house…I’m truly shocked at this. Nobody south of probably Lacovia is immune and frankly if I was them I’d be selling online to a naive crypto billionaire or someone now and getting the heck out…nearly all these buildings will have to come down/step back…it’s clear

  9. Anonymous says:

    Developer’s objective – profit as much as possible as quickly as possible irrespective of long term consequences and then move on while ensuring that the long term problems they cause are passed on to buyers and the public to deal with/pay for.

    We need new laws to ensure that fixing the problems caused by developers, the ‘negative externalities’ as they are called in the literature, remain the responsibility of the developers in perpetuity.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Having lived right there for years….I can tell all of these drastic changes started from when the Turkish house was started. How can that be a coincidence?

  11. Anonymous says:

    So let me get this straight. It took a guy on a jet ski (thank you) posting a video of the catastrophic 7 mile beach erosion on social media to get CIG/DOE to recognize it is a problem!

    Talk about head in the sand (or now lack of sand) mentality. What, did they think if they ignored it things would get better!

    • Anonymous says:

      9:09 DOE have been aware of it for years and have been warning against the construction of sea walls.. sheesh give them a break!

      • Anonymous says:

        Did they ever sue the government? Bring judicial review of decisions? Challenge policy?

        Or did they just quietly mutter as the wheels came off?

        • Anonymous says:

          They work for governemnt. They are Civil servants. They cant “sue” government. Read the law. it does work like that.. SMH

  12. Anonymous says:

    One cannot help thinking that, miserable for the islands in the short term as it may be, a bloody good, direct hit hurricane would sort out a lot of the issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only if government did not authorise people to build back the same problems.

    • Hubert says:

      Have to reluctantly agree with you 8:51. Major disasters force a total re think by our political masters and the general public.

      I never cease to be amazed how soon we forgot what happened with Hurricane Ivan. It is if we learned absolutely nothing from that event.

      Have to conclude that developers, and the almighty dollar linked to real estate, has helped enhance the memory loss from 2004.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Two steps:

    1. Sanction those on past committees that approved and signed off on prohibited sea walls and beach huts (!) below setback, esp. after the fact.

    2. Order these property owners to demolish and remediate the natural shoreline based on the “new” highwater mark they themselves artificially created.

    The Public shouldn’t have to contribute a dime to millionaire and billionaire avarice. It’s past time for that culture of mute appeasement to be recalibrated with consequences assessed by the governance team.

    Before someone suggests it, they already quietly trucked in foreign sand and bolstered these spots with night shift teams, and it clearly didn’t last more than a couple months.

  14. Anonymous says:

    God has spoken.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Beach erosion caused by massive coastal development is a problem the world over. Developers in search of a quick buck build on the best sand beaches, sell on to other buyers, and move on to destroy the next beach. Here is a paper that describes the destruction of sand beaches in Vietnam. Half a world away but the same problems with the same cause – greed and wilful destruction of the environment.


  16. Anonymous says:

    The chickens have come come to roost! Those of us with half a brain have seen this coming for years – everyone that is apart from the planning department. The greedy developers have made their buck and moved on leaving the current owners to deal with the problem they created. There are only a couple of solutions to this problem – (i) demolish the offending structures (not going to happen) (ii) replenish the beaches (very impractical) Or a large storm comes in from the north…. (less likely with climate change)…..Not looking very promising for SMB real estate.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Jack and Gabby came to get his beach back cause Jack say Gabby told him the beach was his.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Remediation of past development disasters is welcome. So would prevention of new disasters such what has been proposed for the Marine Reserve on Little Cayman. Hopefully PACT gets its act together on both counts.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Good on Panton for jumping on this so fast after seeing it; I’m not used to our government getting work done so efficiently. However, I fear the damage has already been done. We need to create new laws prohibiting construction so close to the coast.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Ideally such legislation would also prohibit building over Marine Reserves.

      • Anonymous says:

        You would think that existing legislation already prohibits such development. Otherwise WTF is a marine park?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Knock down the buildings from Darts house south to The Marriott and the problem is solved. This is all a result of human greed and concrete.

    • Anonymous says:

      It started with Marnie Turner, take that one down first.

      • Richard Wadd says:

        Marriott’s pool deck 2nd … a Blatant disregard for Planning that the developers should have been forced to remove at the time.
        It really does seem easier to get forgiveness than to get permission.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly for the investors and those living in them, this truly is one of two only resolutions that will provide immediate remedy, and both must equally take place. #1, Knock them down and move them back, and #2, stop messing with Mother Earth (AKA trying to divert the top level matter somewhere else). Sorry, but past Indiscretions will always catch up, even before ice begins melting…

  21. Anonymous says:

    Unless they move the seawalls and other structures back there is no answer. If we continue on the same oath we have been on there will be no more Seven Mile Beach. It will be the World famous Seven mile Seawall with no beach involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly!! Here I am, just a mere high school graduate from the mid sixties and I was thinking the same thing that many of you are saying. They have simply built there houses on water’s edge, then they built their sea walls and thought they could not only keep uninvited visitors out but also keep out the beautiful serene Caribbean Sea. That is until the beautiful serene Caribbean Sea gets angry. That is why we the older Caymanians didn’t build our humble abode on the beach!! Honestly we were not Oxford,, Cambridge or Harvard educated – we were just humble folks with loads of common sense. SO SAD!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Seven Mile Seawall… not a bad name if we have to make lemonade out of lemons. Put up a boardwalk along the seawall with stairs down to the water – Cayman’s version of the Malecon, except with cleaner water. Sand is overrated anyway. It gets in places it shouldn’t be.

      • Anonymous says:

        What are doing involved in Cayman if you don’t like the sand anyway?

        Leave the boardwalks to Atlantic City and the malecones to Puerto Vallarta.

        I’ll take what is left of 7MB any day of the week. Everything else can be accessed departing from ORIA.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile someone has put up a seawall in the South Sound/Prospect area with no planning permission whatsoever. DOE has warned him several times that he’s breaking the law and now hes been advised that they are getting ready to prosecute. The changes to the beach there has been immediate and there’s nothing that can be done not even forcing him to take the wall down. Its been a complete disaster.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pea brained no doubt. We need to do competency tests for foreign settlors!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Try asking the enforcement officer that spends most his time in Saltys or doing his own business, why he isn’t doing his publicly paid job.

    • Dr,S,K.Mohanty says:

      It is now the time for citizens to act .
      Take out a petition against the owner for building without permits and damaging our coastline .After the petition file a Public Interest Litigation against the owner asking for reparation and damages.
      It is all within our rights !

  23. Anonymous says:

    A task force? Made up of government members and civil servants? God help us all, I’m moving to higher ground.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see Wayne is looking at longstanding environmental problems caused by development.

    Hopefully he will act to prevent new ones such as the proposal to build a development overtop of a Marine Reserve in Little Cayman.

  25. You're Welcome says:

    I know that there is a wealth of older local knowledge that can be tapped to review currents, wave patterns and the shifting of the sands. Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine in London also has a very good wave machine, which can model your beach and the impacts of tides, currents, wind, etc on the movement of beach sands, and explore alternative methods to mitigate these effects – Government should reach out as part of this exercise, so that their solutions will also have a scientific base.

    • Caymanian says:

      The first question that needs answering is:

      Is this shifting sand or increased water level?

      Shifting sand can be mitigated increased water level not as much.

      I am sure most of you have heard of whole Islands going underwater because of the rising sea level. This might be our clearest sign of it happening right here in Grand Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        If it was rising sea levels then the whole beach would be affected….

        It’s pretty obvious that it’s due to the sea walls etc and not due to rising sea levels. Just look at the Marriott when it didn’t have its deck/wall, and look at it now.

        • Anonymous says:

          Duh. They only built the seawall when it was evident that the sea was encroaching the beach.
          In the 90’s the beach was huge. The Marriott was not the initial cause of this. Look at the properties surrounding it…

      • Anonymous says:

        The owner of the house in Prospect put up an illegal artificial beach with illegal seawalls. The impact was immediate to surrounding beachfront. I would say thats proof that the seawalls are disastrous. He could careless. HIs goal is to sell a house with beachfront that he didn’t have before. Sea levels rising dont help. We dont have to make a bad situation worse.

      • Anonymous says:

        If it was increased water level, it would be noticeable around the rest of the island too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes but we have Civil Servants so to hell with all those knowledgeable people, we don’t want them thanks!

  26. Anonymous says:

    It will be waste of time and money. There is nothing we can do as it is end of an era for seven mile beach. 15 years ago beach in some place was 40 to 70 feet depth. Over the years with bad storms and waves taking sand away. Sea level is rising. Look at Barkers beach also it is disappearing and no sea walls, no building at Barkers.

    • Concerned says:

      March 2020 the Marriott had 40 ft of sand in front of it and had four rows of chairs in front. It disappeared during lockdown in a storm. However, south of that, the beach has never really come back since that pile of rocks were put in front of Treasure Island / Sunset Cove. Maybe that’s the problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        I remember clearly – the Mariott property was surveyed when the beach was extraordinarily large and they got a VERY generous setback. Then the beach eroded to natural levels and voila – no beach! no mystery or intrigue. The beach is active and moves in and out. You HAVE to build behind the active line. DUH!

      • Anonymous says:

        Most of the rocks at Sunset Cove were placed there since the original hotel was built. Mid 1980’s. I don’t suspect they are the cause.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I think all taxpayers should really think about this: these developers for years have been getting duty concessions yet we taxpayers are always footing the bill down the road. Example; these places all built to close to the water and allowed sea walls have now destroyed the beach, these same groups also make it very very hard for local people to use the beaches in front of their properties. Now when their is a problem who gets to pay – we the same local people who were not good enough to have beach access when there was a beach. Next is all the apartments/condo’s being allowed without taking into consideration all the new traffic issues. An example is at the Hurley’s round about, there are four new massive properties getting ready to open yet when they go onto the road (which is already a mess with traffic) they will add to the current gridlock. Again who gets to pay for the road improvements – the local taxpayers again – but these same developers were all granted permission and concessions on top of it all. What about on poor old South Church street where the massive FIN development is. How is that little road and all the people in the area going to deal with all the added traffic and congestion? I do not want to beat a dying horse but that developer already owes the taxpayers back duty from the Ritz (granted a different company but the same main person) and got more concessions for that job. It is really looking like these developers come in to the Cayman Islands, get what they want, load up the money and move on and leave all of us to foot there bills. I for one do not feel it is fair at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you’ll win in the comments today 🥇

    • JTB says:

      There is a hearing coming up at CPA on an application by Ergun Berksoy to build a FIN-style development on South Church Street, just over from Palm Springs. A four-storey monster completely out of keeping with anything else in the area, bringing who knows how much additional traffic to an already dangerously over-crowded road.

      We will see from that decision whether the new commitment to sustainable, responsible development means anything more than hot air.

      • After that eyesore of a house says:

        Ergun Berksoy should never be allowed to build anything, anywhere, ever again…

      • Anonymous says:

        Well I heard a wee rumour form a good source that Sunset House owner wants to build a 10 storey behemoth where the exisiting Cathy Church place is. Imagine a monstrosity like that there!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Is he the bloke who owns that hideous house on West Bay Beach which looks like the compound in Pakistan where they found Osama bin Laden?

      • Anonymous says:

        These insensitive developments drafted by unskilled technicians seek to maximize return on investments.
        The massive uninterrupted wall of condominiums opposite Hurley’s is a case in point.
        Look at the concrete encroachment on West Bay road just before Harbour heights.
        Does no one on the planning board have any concern when they blindly accept these applications.
        Aesthetics are abandoned to meet the developers needs at the expense of turning Cayman into communist era East Berlin.

        • Anonymous says:

          No; especially if:
          1) selling loads of building materials or products to the increased consumer base
          2) doing roofing, railings and other building services
          3) engaged in professional services like engineering
          4)political pressure

          a short answer would be that if it has benefits then who cares.

      • Anonymous says:

        It already looks like they’re working on the foundation, a ctivity there right now.

      • Anonymous says:

        North or south of Windsor Village? The site south of it already has the foundation poured, and the site north they started cutting rebar this week. I thought ALT owned the north one?

      • Anonymous says:

        12:14 Every Generation will find, what is Necessary to Survive, it will not be what You and I had, that has been the way forever.

      • Anonymous says:

        Now than FIN is there, nothing is out of keeping with the area. How they got to built that absolute monstrosity is beyond me

    • alaw says:

      11:28 How can a Developer Invest Hundreds of Millions of Dollars “load up the money, move on and leave all of us to foot there bills” there is not an Ounce of Sense in your long Comment!

      • Anonymous says:

        The Marriott is on about its third ownership/management team. The original developer did as described. Built too close (despite being warned against doing so by locals, including the agency that predated the now DoE), sold out, and left someone else holding the bag with no more beach in it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Very easy Alaw; when the developer sells off units in the development then any loans get settled off and the developer gets the balance. Now assuming said developer made a profit, then the developer has the money. Hope this helps you to understand.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Well done so far, Wayne. Keep it up!

    • Anonymous says:

      A bit premature. Well done what? He not hit a lick yet bobo!

    • Anonymous says:

      What exactly has #noplanpanton done? Be specific.

      • Anonymous says:

        More so far than what #alldone did in 16yrs

        • Anonymous says:

          You conveniently neglected to mention that Panton was responsible for the Environment for four of those years.

          • Anonymous says:

            and you will conveniently ignore the fact that he did that national conservation law even though those of us in red bay learned from the campaign that he had members of his own government working against his (their) own agenda!

          • Anonymous says:

            name a single politician that achieved more for the environment than has Panton in the last 20 years..or maybe ever

          • Anonymous says:

            Yea, and Wayne was the one that pushed the National Conservation Malawian that Alden tore apart the minute Wayne was no longer there. Thank God and thank Newlands voters for bringing Wayne back.

  29. A. Nopheles says:

    The beach issue can be solved for $6. That can buy a gallon of diesel to run the backhoe that knocks down the seawalls in the affected area.

    Next. How about a task force to fix MRCU?

  30. Anonymous says:

    This is not necessarily a matter of climate change or rising water levels. It’s a matter of simple physics. Without any impedance, the waves natural motion take them up the beach until their dynamic energy is expended.

    With obstacles in the way (retainer walls, pool decks, foundations), the energy cannot be dissipated so it is consumed by taking the sand back out into the sea when the waves ebb.

    Replacing the sand is pointless. Unless any remediation is approached from the understanding and accommodation of dynamic wave action, it will not succeed.

    Having said that, the best solution is to remove the offending obstacles, whatever they may be. Will that happen? Doubt it!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep 💯%. Can’t remove the developers out of the equation either.

      • Anonymous says:

        We can also take them to court, throw them in jail, confiscate the properties, and add them to a global blacklist registry, if they brazenly step out of line.

        Being found in breach of the law or guilty of poor environmental management has sadly become only a good happy hour tale to tell at the bar. They simply do not care, folks. The money talks and everything else including educated judgement, fades into the background.

        Moral of the story: enact and enforce. We appear to be learning the former, but we still need serious work on the latter.

        For decades, international developers take us for driftwood(idiots) in our ‘all bark, no bite’ approach. Unfortunately, they cannot self-govern amongst themselves, so we will have to take matters into our own hands. They have simply blown their chance.

        Convictions and serious fines on shoddy construction jobs never go out of style. Maybe then will they avoid breaking the rules like coronavirus. Just saying.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ 11:18 Every now and again we get an intellectual post made on these forums. This is one of those times. It was a pleasure reading this whilst having my lentil and vegetable soup today. Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      You would be correct about the seawalls but it’s also removal of natural vegetation. This applies to lakes but the same physics are at play with the ocean. There should be a ban on removal of any more Mangroves or natural beach vegetation.

      According to the Michigan Shoreline Partnership, the “two most destructive actions” that lead to shoreline erosion are removing natural vegetation and building seawalls or “hardening of the shoreline” in any way (Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership, 2019).

      Vegetation Removal
      Plant roots create a natural barrier to shoreline erosion by protecting the soil and holding it in place. When property owners remove this vegetation and replace it with a grass lawn, they are destroying that barrier and causing accelerated erosion to occur. Aquatic plant removal can have the same effect. Shallow lakes tend to have more aquatic plants near the shore. These plants help protect the shoreline from erosion by reducing a wave’s energy before it comes in contact with the shore. When too many aquatic plants are removed, the ecosystem in the lake is not only damaged, but the full erosive force of waves is able to hit the shoreline and cause damage there too.

      How Seawalls Make Erosion Worse
      A “seawall” is any type of hard “wall” installed along the shore that is intended to prevent waves from hitting the shore. Seawalls can be constructed from materials like concrete, rock, or wood. When property owners install these walls hoping to control the erosion of their beaches, they actually cause more problems. Seawalls create barriers for wildlife like turtles, which disturbs the ecosystem. Ecosystem disturbances are not only issues for wildlife, but can cause the entire lake to have issues and become less enjoyable for lakefront residents too.

      Source: https://www.superiorgroundcover.com/shoreline-erosion-a-complete-guide/

      Video showing how mangroves stop excess erosion:


    • Chris Johnson says:

      I notice in many countries that the sea walls are curved. Surely this is to take the energy out of the waves. If not can the experts explain the reason.
      Having lived on SMB for over 40 years I have seen the sand come and go. What is very noticeable is that we have so very few Northwesters these days which may a part explanation as to what is taking place with the sand movement.

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