DoE warns of hefty penalties

| 23/08/2009

(CNS): The recent appearance of pictures on the social networking site ‘Facebook’ of guides lifting stingrays from the water at the sandbar has prompted the Department of  Environment to remind people that mishandling these creatures could see them incurring fines ofup to CI$½ million and even a year’s prison sentence. The marine conservation law prohibits anyone from taking the stingrays out of the water and there is now a dedicated enforcement officer from the DoE stationed at Stingray City and the Sandbar to keep an eye on the welfare of the marine creatures.

Tim Austin for the DoE told CNS that lifting the rays from the water (as shown above) is not only very stressful for the creatures but can put people at risk as the rays are more likely to sting when they are under that kind of stress.

“Although they would have to be out of the water for significant period for their lives to be at risk, researchers have said that continually lifting the rays, even for a short period, causes them immunological stress,” he said. “We are also very concerned about the danger it poses to humans as the rays can sting. While the guides know how to handle the rays when they do this they could encourage people who don’t know how to handle them to try, which can be very dangerous.”

Austin warned that they DoE will seek to prosecute people who put people and the rays at risk and said that since July a dedicated officer has been allocated to the popular tourist attraction and he will be making sure that people refrain from taking the creatures out of the water.

“There is no need for guides to do this type of thing. No one gains from it,” Austin added. “Stingray City already offers visitors a unique experience swimming with the rays in the water where they belong.”

The Southern Atlantic Stingrays which populate the sandbar and Stingray City take their name from the barbed spine(s) at the base of their long, whip-like tail which protects them from danger. They are not aggressive creatures and when swimming they are unable to direct their tails so they rarely attack while they are in perpetual motion in the water.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I read this article in an Australian newspaper. This is issue is gianing international interest.

    We really need to protect the stingrays from the overzealous tourists.



    • Bling Bling says:

      Oh my gosh……

      This is as foolish as it gets…Conservationist talking from two sides of their mouth.

      Don’t you guys have anything better to do! How aboutwe just stop feeding stingrays period and let them die because they dependant on people for food….Like in the US where they say don’t feed wildlife because they loose natural instincts. I think this is a waste of government money…It would be more worthwhile catching a poacher or performing recycling operations at the dump…Lets sell this stupid boat that burns gasoline all day while it pollutes the enviroment enforcing stupid regs like not touching the stingrays…get real people and lets hire some people to reduce the amount of CO2 by recycling and try to slow down the coral destruction by the acidification of our oceans…..DOE Please stop wasting our money on foolishness catch some poachers or sell your boats and go try to shrink Mt.Trashmore…..Please I know you like to parade around in nice boats with nice badges to be visible to the public but you are doing a disservice by this act……GET REAL!

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps "Bling Bling" should be educated first to know the difference between the DOA and DEH, until then, please be silent!

        Try to locate some love in your life for animals please!

        • Anonymous says:


          In reply to Bling Bling –
          You raise an important issue – the feeding of wildlife (except under very specific circumstances) is generally not a good idea. In the case of the stingrays, artificial feeding unnaturally influences their behavior, their population size, and detrimentally impacts their immune systems. So, you make a very good point here.
          Unfortunately your good point is undermined by your energetic criticism of DoE… all of whom would probably share your point of view, that feeding of wildlife is not a good idea. It may come as surprise to you, but “conservationists” are not the only people involved in this issue… a major stakeholderis the numerous tour operators whose livelihoods depend upon the attraction. If you were to consider this fact, perhaps the current arrangement would become less frustrating for you.
          Regarding recycling and garbage, that is the remit of DEH, not DoE – though of course, we can all do our bit to help, as I am sure you do yourself, in between sharing your unique commentary on the subject.
  2. Anonymous says:

    It seems for some time now that people simply refuse to be educated to a point where they actually understand why it is necessary to impose fines and/or jail time for offences such as this.

    In addition to the above named penalties, just like with reckless car drivers, remove their operating licence for a period of time or forever if the offence justifies the need.

    Cruelty to animals manifests itself in many forms and ways and too many are ignored by the keepers of the applicable laws.

    It is more then high time that changes, don’t you think?

  3. Mindy says:

    I see pictures like that all the time on facebook!



  4. Anonymous says:

    One of the behind the scenes problems the DoE must deal with is constantly being trumped by other departments and Ministries such as Tourism and Planning.

    The former government really regrets not getting the updated conservation passed in 4 years. Don’t fool yourself that everyone doesn’t know that there were pressures against strengthing the hand of the DoE.

    There will always be those who are against conservation because it stands in the way of the almighty dollar.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A little off thread, but similarly, I doubt many recreational offenders know where the DOE building is, let alone this year’s latest marine law revisions ( 

    It would be great if the DOE posted reminder sheets of the all the latest marine park laws, areas, shoreline speed limits, and penalties on every marine-access gas pump on the island.  Boaters have to refuel… 

    Certainly the pumps at Morgan’s Harbour, Kaibo, Barcadere, and Harbour House where the renegade waverunner community congregate for the weekend racing runs through 5mph environmental zones and swimming areas; and the various Esso/Texaco stations where fishermen regularly fuel with jerry cans.  One has to assume they have no clue.

    For those operators that can’t read…have someone read it to you.  We all have to be united in regard to ensuring safety and the protection of the environment for future generations. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Stop talking DOE take action now set an example instead of warnings how many warnings have these guys have?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Shame on any person working on the sand bar who chooses to abuse the stingrays for the enjoyment of the tourists. They should know better. Perhaps some stiff fines are in order for them and for the company that they work for.

  8. Kev says:

    About time.!! I suspect though that a period of ‘education’ will be the initial action. For persistent offenders let’s hope the DoE do enforce this legislation and not be pressured by the influential tour operators. The sooner the new Conservation Law comes in, the better.! Soon come though..!

    Tim and his crew have a hard enough task. The fact that an enforcement officer has to be virtually resident at the sandbar is a sad indictment on the trust afforded to the boat/tour operators. Let’s hope the message gets through.. leave nature alone.!