Archive for February 5th, 2010

Turtle meat price soars

| 05/02/2010 | 163 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Boatswain's Beach Cayman Turtle Farm(CNS): The new managing director of the Turtle Farm has made his first major decision, which will see the cost of turtle meat triple in price. In a written statement issued on Friday evening, Timothy Adam, who has been in post less than two weeks, said the business now needs to raise the selling price on turtle meat to reflect the true cost of production and maintenance of the Cayman Turtle Farm facilities. From Monday, 8 February, turtle steak will cost CI$27.00 per pound, three times its current price. Recognizing the cultural significance of the meat, the new MD and the board said they were committed to doing what it takes to protect the future of the farm.

According to the statement, the price of the turtle stew will rise from CI$5.40 per pound to CI$16.00 per pound, turtle menavelin will rise from CI$4.00 per pound to CI$12.00 per pound, and the bone from CI$2.00 per pound to CI$6.00.

Calicia Burke, Marketing Manager at the farm, said that farmed turtle meat is one of the rarest forms of food as it is found only in the Cayman Islands and only from the Cayman Turtle Farm. "Our farm avoids the need for any green sea turtles to be taken from the wild by the general public. Our aim is to continue facilitating conservation and preservation of the species through our strategies of commercialization, leading-edge research and technological development of green sea turtle farming,” she said.

Adam pointed out that the sale of turtle meat to restaurants and the general public has always been a very important function of the Farm, but the price was far below the cost to produce it, and the facility was constantly losing money on that portion of the business.   

“One of my first priorities after taking this job was to begin a process of closely examining every aspect of our operations to determine if they were being run efficiently and were commercially viable,” said Adam.   “Looking closely at the farm operations it was immediately clear that the price being charged for turtle meat would not allow the proper operation of the farm.  The supply of turtle meat in Cayman is in jeopardy and could dry up in the very near future without significant re-investment in the turtles, their feeding and care or even the farm facilities.”

Since Hurricane Michelle in 2001, when much of the Farm’s breeding herd disappeared and much of the breeding facility was rendered unusable, the farm has struggled to improve its breeding programme and reverse the issue of declining turtle stock. Adam emphasized that setting a reasonable pricing structure was the first step in being able to properly re-invest in the farm and reverse this unsustainable trend.

The farm has recently reported problems with turtle eggs not hatching, which is impacting the farm’s ability to produce meat,, and is currently engaged in a research project to examine the diet of the turtles at the farm and how that compares to that of wild turtles and the nutritional value.

To ensure the long term sustainability of the Cayman Turtle Farm and the availability of turtle products the MD said there was a need to increase the meat’s selling price and that the meat still compared in price to lobster, which is a similarly scarce meat.

There had been no increase in the price of turtle meat since the mid 1990’s, despite increasing costs and the increased scarcity of supply.

“There is no doubt that our local turtle population would become endangered without the research and conservations efforts of the Turtle Farm," added Adam. “We have a responsibility to ensure that future generations of Caymanians can enjoy the traditions of our islands, and the turtles are an important part of that.”

Adam said this was just the first step in a series of wide ranging changes to be implemented over the coming months at Boatswain’s Beach with the aim of making the entire facility a commercially viable entity.  “The decision in regards to the pricing of the turtle meat was an obvious first place to start” he added.

Ken Hydes, Chairman of the Board, backed his new MD and said more difficult decisions lay ahead. “I can assure the public that these decisions are being made with the long term best interest of the shareholders, the Caymanian people.  This is the reason the board felt it was essential to bring in someone with Tim’s experience and capabilities.  We are extremely confident that he is the right man to turn things around at Boatswains Beach and he has the full support of the board and senior management team,” the chair said.

Continue Reading

Bermuda Premier announces plan for national service

| 05/02/2010 | 1 Comment

(The Royal Gazette): The Premier today announced a detailed national service plan for young adults. The programme is voluntary, but possible incentives including better loan rates and reduced TCD fees have been proposed as a means of getting men and women between the ages of 24 and 30 to commit to complete 16 hours of service a month for two years. Dr. Brown told the House of Assembly this morning: “The recent acts of senseless violence that have rocked Bermuda, together with the release of the Mincy Report highlighting the plight of our young men, have clearly underscored the need for mentoring and other creative strategies to restore Bermuda’s harmony and peace.

Go to article

Continue Reading

Police nab teenage bag snatch suspect

| 05/02/2010 | 30 Comments

(CNS): Police say they have arrested a seventeen year old boy in connection with a bag snatch after a witness ran after the suspect. The incident occurred outside a restaurant at Grand Harbour Shopping Centre last night. According to a police statement, at about about 10:10pm on Thursday, 4 February, a woman was sitting outside at a restaurant when a young male appeared, grabbed her handbag and ran off towards the Maedac Texaco service station.

The woman’s boyfriend gave chase and the police were alerted. A short time later police officers arrived and detained the 17-year-old male suspect close to the Lions Club when he was arrested on suspicion of theft. No-one was injured in the incident and the young man remains in police custody at this time.

Continue Reading

Boaters in distress may be booked for safety issues

| 05/02/2010 | 10 Comments

(CNS): Irresponsible boaters who get into trouble at sea and need to be rescued may find themselves in trouble with the law as well if it turns out they did not have all the necessary safety equipment on board. Police say that, despite all previous warnings and information given to the boating public by the RCIPS Marine Unit, some people are still not making sure they have the proper equipment when they head out to sea.

About 8:50 last night, Thursday 4 February, police were called to assist a 17-foot fishing boat off North West Point in West Bay. The boat had three people on board and they were unable to start the boat’s engine. They did have paddles available, but because of the prevailing sea conditions they were unable to make headway. The RCIPS Marine Unit Typhoon was deployed and the boat was towed back to shore. When officers carried out a routine safety check of the boat they discovered that the occupants did not have the necessary safety equipment on board.

Inspector Brad Ebanks of the RCIPS Marine Unit said, “It is difficult for me to accept that boaters are not making good of our advice and warnings and are still going out to sea without the necessary equipment. People have to be more responsible and stop putting people’s lives at risk. It is with good reason why you are required to have these safety items onboard. The mentality of ‘nothing is going to happen’ is far from the truth. The boating public can certainly expect to see an increase in checks for the require safety equipment. If you own a boat and don’t have the required safety equipment you should make good of this time to ensure that you acquire them.”

Continue Reading

No motive yet in Spence murder

| 05/02/2010 | 6 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news(CNS): While police investigating the shooting death of 32-year-old Courtney Spence do not appear to have established a motive for the killing, they say they building a comprehensive picture of the victim’s professional and private lives. When asked if they have any leads, the RCIPS said that enquiries are ongoing, but they are appealing again for the public to come forward with information. Spence was shot at 11:10pm on Thursday, 28 January, as he left work at Progressive Distributors in Sparky Drive, George Town, and police said that a post mortem examination carried out on Wednesday afternoon confirms the death was caused by a gunshot wound.

The officer leading the enquiry, Detective Inspector Lauriston Burton said, “My officers have taken a number of statements from friends, family and workmates of the victim as part of the enquiry. We are now starting to build a comprehensive picture of Mr. Spence, and his professional and private lives, as we strive to find a motive for the killing. We also had officers in the area of Sparky Drive last night – exactly one week from the date of the murder – interviewing people who may have been in the area at the same time last week. “I know we have already made a number of appeals for information and I haveto say that we have been pleased with the public response so far. However, it is absolutely imperative that we speak to everyone who has any information about the victim or the crime as quickly as possible.

If you have any information at all, even if you think it is insignificant, then please get in touch
with us.” Anyone with information can call the murder incident room on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

Continue Reading

Brac cruise stops “not viable”

| 05/02/2010 | 60 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Brac headline news, Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association(CNS): Although Premier McKeeva Bush continues to promise to develop cruise tourism on Cayman Brac, the previous tourism minister, Charles Clifford, told CNS that the PPM looked at all angles of the cruise ship business for the Brac and concluded that the only economically feasible way to develop it at this time wouldbe to offer day trips packages to passengers docking on Grand Cayman, which would include a flight on CAL’s Cayman Express Service and tours of the island. The cost of building berthing facilities, which would run to about $100 million, was not viable, he said.

At the Cayman Business Outlook conference last month, Bush vowed to bring cruise ships to the Brac, repeating a promise he made at the Economic Forum held on the island in August 2009, when he told residents that he intended to approve plans for Salt Water Pond to be dredged and turned into a marina and also for the development of West End Cemetery Pier (Scotts Dock) to accommodate cruise tourism, and would waste no time helping the developers to get it done. “I promise you that when those things come before my desk, as it will come before the Cabinet, it will have my go ahead. Not in the way distant future but as soon as you can do so, we will support it,” he said.

However, Clifford told CNS that during the PPM administration they had many discussions with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), but the feedback was that there were serious issues with bringing cruise tourism to Cayman Brac. Firstly, because of the narrow shape of the island and the way the island lies, at a north-northeast south-southwest angle, and with the winds predominantly from the north east, the weather conditions on both the north and the south sides were challenging more often than not.

“This means that tendering cruise ship passengers is not viable. We then asked if it was feasible to build berthing facilities and we talked to them about that,” Clifford said. However, he said that because of the weather conditions, it would have to be a substantial investment – a deck berthing structure would not work – and they estimated the cost involved to be in the region of $100 million, which the cruise lines were not prepared to invest.

In addition, when they considered the size of the population, which is about 1,800, against the average size of the cruise ships, this would not work. “Most cruise ships have 2,000 plus passengers. This would be like 80,000 passengers arriving on Grand Cayman. The population could not cope.”

The next step, Clifford said, was to consider the smaller cruise ships with 250 to 350 passengers. “There are not a lot operating and typically they have two to three week trips,” he said. “If a ship puts a destination on its itinerary, it is important that they deliver what they sell. If they can’t deliver on a consistent basis, they are not going to do it.”

Having established that tendering was not feasible, the PPM then looked at whether berthing facilities for the smaller cruise ships could work. However, because of the infrequency of the visits, they also ruled this out. “We also considered how beneficial it was to Cayman Brac and how many business people would invest in an occasional visit with only a couple of hundred passengers passing through a month,” he said.

“The whole issue required considerable thought,” Clifford noted, and said their conclusions were that having cruise ships stop at Cayman Brac was not feasible.

However, the former tourism minister said they did look at day trips to the Brac, in which passengers docking at Grand Cayman would be sold deluxe day-trip packages, which would include flight on the Cayman Express. The Cayman Airways Twin Otters have the capacity to fly more frequently – which might mean hiring more crew – and the planes could bring as many as 40 passengers in a day, Clifford said, adding that the PPM believed that this idea (which was originally proposed by the previous UDP government) offered the best opportunities for Cayman Brac businesses.

“Up to the time we left office, we were looking at how to make that work and that was the direction we were heading,” he said, noting that when the company who was leasing the Twin Otters to CAL decided not to renew, they suddenly had to look for alternatives, which had ended with them purchasing the two planes now in use. This had set plans back but, he said, that was the way the PPM believed that the Brac people would benefit the most from cruise tourism, and the FCCA had like the idea.

However, he said it needed to be developed while the Investment Bureau was helping the people prepare in terms of building the businesses for the services required, like transportation and shops, so that everyone could benefit.

Offering a note of caution, Clifford said that the premier might announce that a particular cruise line is willing to invest but that the Brac people should be wary of such a proposal, since it would likely mean that the cruise line would also have all the concessions for the businesses that profit from the cruise ship – as had happened in places like Grand Turk – and the local population would have no control.

“A handful of Brackers might get jobs but there would be very little economic value for the locals,” he said.

Continue Reading

Rising crime takes Antigua off cruise routes

| 05/02/2010 | 19 Comments

(The Telegraph): A leading cruise line has cancelled all calls at Antigua following the murder on the island of one of its passengers last month. The move by Star Clippers came 10 days after the body of a 30-year-old American woman was discovered near Pigeon Point Beach, an area popular with tourists. Nina Nilssen, 30, from San Francisco, had wandered away from a nearby barbecue during an onshore break. A 24-year-old man has been arrested and charged with her murder. Carnival Cruise Lines removed Antigua from its Caribbean itineraries in January after several of its passengers were involved in an altercation with local police.

There were 13 murders in Antigua in 2009, a rate of around 17 per 100,000 people – more than five times that of Britain, but low compared with some Caribbean countries. There were around 1,660 murders in Jamaica in 2009, at a per capita rate of 61 per 100,000 people and 490 murders in Trinidad and Tobago last year, at a rate of 36 per 100,000 people.

Go to article

CNS note: There were six fatal shootings on Grand Cayman in 2009: Fabian Powell, Jerome Russell, Omar Samuels, Marcus Ebanks, Carlo Webster and Fabian Reid. Sabrina Schirn was also murdered and the death of Sherman Bodden, aka DJ Jazzy B, resulted in a manslaughter conviction.


Continue Reading

Government wants property in exchange for welfare

| 05/02/2010 | 66 Comments

(CNS): An elderly resident of George Town who says she needs financial assistance to live is not willing to give up the property that she says she has worked hard for in exchange for welfare from government. Seventy eight year old Evalee Pars, who lives alone, told News 27 that when she went to government for money, officials said they can only give her the $550 per month poor persons allowance if she signs her property over. According to the Department and Family Services, over 900 people received government assistance and if they have property government is supposed to take a lien on it. Director Deanna Look Loy said the department has been criticized for not enforcing this policy.

Look Loy said that the application of the Poor People’s Relief Law is a very unpopular issue but she has no choice but to apply the law, which means that people wanting assistance will have to give up their property assets before they can get the money.

“We have come under fire from the audit department for not placing liens on people’s property,” she said, admitting they have not applied any liens yet.

She added that families of the elderly should assist their relatives. “We know they have children that are fairly well off that can afford to help them, but they don’t and that doesn’t speak well about our society.”

Go to News 27 video

Continue Reading

Da Silva missing from board

| 05/02/2010 | 3 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman business news, Cayman Finance(CNS): After six years of service at the head of the organisation, former president of Cayman Finance (formerly Cayman Islands Financial Service Association) Eduardo Da Silva has not been re-appointed to the board during the latest general meeting. Eric Crutchley, another long standing senior member, is also missing from the new line-up. On 20 January Cayman Finance said significant structural changes within the association were agreed and implemented and a new group of people have been appointed to the body’s leadership team. Anthony Travers was reappointed as chairman, and Cayman Finance said the new board now represents the key businesses and professional associations in Cayman.

Chairman Anthony Travers offered thanks to Eduardo D’Angelo P. Silva, a founding member of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association and leader.  “We would like to thank the outgoing board members for their generous contributions of time, talent and passion on behalf of Cayman’s financial services industry,” said Travers.  “Special thanks must go to Eduardo Silva, whose shared vision with Eric Crutchley was the driving force behind the creation of this association.  Their tireless efforts and vision have provided our industry with the platform for a strong, central voice necessary to effectively promote and protect itself from the international threats we face today.”

Denise Gower has been appointed Head of Marketing to manage the plans of the association.  Gower’s previous post was with offshore legal and fiduciary services company Ogier as Senior Manager, Business Development and Marketing. “The latest developments in Cayman Finance are exciting and very important to the future success of Cayman’s financial services industry,” said Gower.  “It is essential that Cayman Finance continue to deliver the right messages to overseas governments and educate both the media and the general public about the benefits that quality offshore financial centres like Cayman provide to the global economy and I am delighted to be working with this energetic and committed Board of Directors.” 

The new board comprises:  Dan Scott (Ernst & Young), Roy McTaggart (KPMG), James Bergstrom (Ogier), Ian Wight (Deloitte), Nick Freeland (PWC), Conor O’Dea (Butterfield Bank), Gonzalo Jalles (HSBC), Stuart Dack (Cayman National Bank), Mark Lewis (Walkers), Gary Linford (representing the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA), David Roberts (representing the Cayman Islands Company Managers Association (CICMA), Michael Gibbs (representing the Insurance Managers of Cayman (IMAC), Paul Harris (representing the Cayman Islands Directors Association (CIDA), and Justin Appleyard (representing Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

Continue Reading

HSA defends staffing record

| 05/02/2010 | 55 Comments

(CNS): Following recent remarks made by Ezzard Miller that the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Greg Hoeksema (left), has had his contract renewed despite the fact that there is a Caymanian willing and able to do the job, the HSA Board and the Ministry of Health released a joint statement on Thursday stating that the hospital was committed to employing Caymanians. Although the official statement did not answer the allegations made by Miller on Wednesday or even mention Dr Hoeksema, there seemed no other explanation for the cryptic statement which said 32 Caymanians had been hired to both clinical and non-clinical positions in the last year.

Miller had said publicly that he believed there is a suitably qualified Caymanian doctor who could take the hospital’s top job but the Health Services Authority (HSA)  renewed Dr Hoeksema’s contract without advertising the post.

In the joint statement the HSA said it was committed to creating opportunities for Caymanians, which was being done through succession planning, staff development and active recruitment of qualified Caymanians for both clinical and non-clinical positions.

“It has always been the HSA’s policy to accommodate and hire suitably qualified and experienced Caymanians,” the board and ministry said. “Within the last year alone, the HSA has appointed 32 Caymanians to both clinical and non-clinical positions. These included an obstetrician/ gynaecologist, an emergency medical technician, a forensics analyst, a paramedic, a phlebotomist, an account assistant, a human resources officer, an executive secretary, several nurses and IT technicians.”

It went on to say that many Caymanians working in the HSA began their careers through work experience programmes, which the HSA continues to encourage. “The hospital also pays special attention to attracting and retaining Caymanians with clinical qualifications,” the statement read.

It said the hospital employs approximately 741 employees from 29 different countries and over the past 3 years had employed an average of 388 Caymanians, which represents approximately 52% of all employees in both clinical and non-clinical positions. “37% of the clinical positions and 69% on the non clinical positions are occupiedby Caymanians.  Additionally, over 50% of the HSA’s management team is Caymanian,” the board stated. However, there was no comment about the circumstances surrounding the re-hiring of Dr Hoeksema or whether in fact Miller was correct in his allegations that a Caymanian was available.

The statement did acknowledge that while the HSA is always committed to giving Caymanians first choice when hiring, it is also mindful of the diverse and specialized skills that are required to meet the needs of the population. “Therefore in some instances there will be a need to either recruit non-Caymanians or renew contracts of non-Caymanians in certain key positions in order that the level of service and patient care is not compromised,” it said.

Continue Reading