Archive for June 25th, 2010

Private gun ownership under review

| 25/06/2010 | 58 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news(CNS): Thedeputy governor has announced that a review of the law and regulations surrounding the conditions under which private individuals can be licensed to hold guns is currently underway. Donovan Ebanks said that outreach had been made to stakeholders regarding the cost of firearms licences and the commissioner was examining other issues associated with weapons held in private hands. The deputy governor denied any intention by the police to eliminate the rights of people to own firearms under the current law but did not deny the possibility of ballistic testing on privately owned weapons. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

"The whole matter of firearms licensing to private individuals is under much needed review and consideration," Ebanks said in the Legislative Assembly this week. The deputy governor explained that it could include an increase of the licensing fee and a change in the regulations that form part of the law but there was no goal to eliminate all legally held private guns.
"A process is underway for the commissioner to make recommendations to Cabinet," he said. "I know of no such policy being adopted by the portfolio or Cabinet (to eliminate the private guns) … and have no reason to believe it is the policy of the commissioner.”
The question of further limiting private firearms ownership and the possible elimination of the right to own a legally licensed gun was raised by both the independent member for North Side and the opposition member for East End during this week’s session of Finance Committee.
Miller asked Ebanks why there was a zero in the budget documents in the section dealing with the amount of money expected to be collected by government for firearms licenses and queried if that indicated that government did not intend to issue any new licenses this year.
The deputy governor said he could not explain why a zero had appeared in the documents and suspected it was an error as firearms license would be issued. He confirmed that around 24 had recently been renewed.
Miller, who has a number of farmers in his constituency, said that concerns had arisen recently regarding this matter and he wanted reassurances that there were no changes in the policy to allow firearms under license.
Arden McLean questioned the possible increase in the cost of licenses and asked if the police intended to carry out ballistic testing on people’s licensed guns. In response, Ebanks said many things including those raised by McLean were under consideration and the final determinations would be down to the commissioner through the firearms regulations. Ebanks said there were a variety of views about how liberal the firearms law should be but it was in the hands of the commissioner of police.
Miller also asked why it took so long for licenses for owners who had been assessed and vetted to be granted. Miller said constituents were waiting months to receive their licenses when they had made applications to renew them in good time leaving them foul of the law through no fault of their own. Government backbench MLA Cline Glidden also queried the deputy governor over the length of time the licenses were taking to be approved. Ebanks asked the members for details on their constituents’ complaints and said he would try to find out why it was taking so long as the circumstances sounded unacceptable.

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Clock ticks on environment

| 25/06/2010 | 12 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The Department of the Environment is calling on the public to throw its weight behind the proposed National Conservation Bill to ensure that this time the law makes it through the Legislative Assembly. With the clock ticking on the islands’ precarious environmental resources, local experts have pointed out that the law has to be enacted at the earliest opportunity if the Cayman Islands is to have any chance at all of preserving what is left its dwindling natural resources.  From the silver thatch palm and the banana orchid to Cayman’s unique bats and reptiles, few of the islands’ indigenous species currently have any kind of legislative protection. (Photo – Old George in the George Town Forest)

The DoE has begun an all out campaign to raise awareness over the desperate need to enact a law that will finally ensure that the natural environment is given the same consideration as economic and social issues when it comes to the development of the country.
Gina Ebanks-Petrie, the director of the DoE, said that there had to be a way to develop the country and protect the environmental resources as well, as she sent the message out to the community to learn all they could about the law and voice their support to the ministry. Speaking to the media this week at a special presentation, the director detailed the precarious situation facing the country’s natural resources.
Armed with only the Animals Law and the Marine Conservation Law, the director has depended on what she termed a series of “gentlemen’s agreements” with various government departments in order to protect the local environment and green spaces.
However, an opportunity once again has arisen to get the proposed National Conservation Law on to the statute books. Mark Scotland, the minister with responsibility for the environment, has said he is willing to bring the law to the Legislative Assembly this September.
As a result, the consultation period for comment, as well as support, has reopened and will be open until the middle of next month. The director said the DoE team will be doing all it can over the next few weeks to inform people about the law and dispel any myths that have continued to circulate about this piece of legislation that have continued to delay its passage.
Ebanks-Petrie said that a small number of people will always be against any kind of legislation in favour of the natural environment but she believes the vast majority of people in Cayman now want to do something to conserve what is left of what was once an abundant natural environment – which is fast disappearing.
Because the islands have already lost so much of their natural environment, from green spaces to buffer zones, there are no guarantees that this law will secure the future of our natural resources but without it, Ebanks-Petrie said, there is little chance that Cayman’s unique species of flora and fauna will survive the onslaught of a growing population and continuous development.
“Now is the time for people to show their support for this final draft of the law and write to the ministry,” she said, adding that environmental rights had also been added to the Bill of Rights due to come into effect in2012 – another compelling reason for the law.
Despite the misinformation that has been perpetuated, the director explained the law did not enable the seizure people’s private land. The only land that could be preserved for environmental purposes under this law is that belonging to the crown. She said it will not stop development but merely require planning to consider the country’s natural resources when making decisions.
The law will also provide more powers to environmental officers to enforce the marine laws, as well as formalise the work of the DoE, enable compliance with international treaties and offer legal protection to the country’s unique species and their habitats.
Cayman is home to a numberof indigenous bats, butterflies and lizards, and endangered flora, such as the critically endangered ‘Old George’, a bromeliad (pictured above) that grows only in a small selection of the forest in George Town, as well as the country’s national tree, the silver thatch, and its national flower, the banana orchid.
At present around 0.5% of Cayman’s land has any legal protection, which Ebanks-Petrie pointed out was only a fraction of that set aside by other countries in the region. This in turn still had very small amounts in comparison to countries that were pursuing real eco-tourism options, such as Costa Rica, which now has well over 40% of its land designated as protected areas. “It is not possible for us to talk about eco-tourism or sustainable development when so little of our land is protected.”
She also pointed out that even where some protection is afford, such as mangrove buffer zones under the planning regulations, because of its ability to protect the islands from hurricanes, the habitat  is still not safe from the bulldozer. This was recently demonstrated by a decision by the Central Planning Authority to ignore the DoE’s extensive research and recommendations over the buffer recently removed by the Ritz-Carlton developers.
Once the law is enacted, Ebanks-Petrie said she hopes the Department of Environment will be able to conserve Barker’s as a national park, as well as the central mangrove wetlands and the Mastic area, which are both precious natural eco-systems, by designating them special protected areas under the law.
The DoE will begin a series of district meetings starting next month where the team will conduct presentations about the law and answer the public’s questions and ask for their support. A schedule of where and when will be published shortly but the first meeting will take place in North Side on Thursday evening 1 July. A guide to the law has been published and is available at Anyone who would like to organise a presentation, ask about the law, offer their support or a suggestion can call 949 8469.
You can also show support by voting in the CNS poll Are-you-in favour-of the conservation-law
Check back to CNS next week for more stories regarding the pressing need for the National Conservation Law.

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Cayman Islands catches alternative energy firm

| 25/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Catch the Wind Ltd a developer and manufacturer of the Vindicator(R) laser wind sensor and other wind sensing products has completed its corporate re-domestication to the Cayman Islands. Ata time when offshore companies are moving from Cayman the firm said it had chosen Cayman for the purpose of achieving greater flexibility in potential future financings. Catch the Wind firm said that the re-domestication was not completed for any tax-related reasons. The firm is a technology company headquartered in Manassas, Virginia, founded in 2008.

Catch the Wind serves the commercial market sector for laser based wind sensor systems, recognized as the "gold standard" in wind measurement. The company says it is focused on becoming a major contributor in making clean, renewable wind energy more affordable and profitable.
With the re-domestication the "s" designation on the Company’s existing trading symbol will be removed as of the opening of trading on 28 June 28. The Company’s common shares will trade under a new CUSIP number. The re-domestication was not completed for any tax-related reasons.
Registered shareholders will receive a Letter of Transmittal advising them as to how to exchange their certificates representing pre-re-domestication shares for certificates representing post-re-domestication shares of the Company if they wish to do so. Shareholders will not be required to obtain new share certificates to evidence the shares of the Company owned by them, but may do so if they wish. Each holder will be responsible for ensuring that any exchange of their existing shares complies with all applicable laws.
Full details of the Company’s re-domestication are available in the Company’s continuous disclosure materials located at For more information on the firm visit

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DoE investigates mystery of dead fish

| 25/06/2010 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The cause of a large number of dead juvenile fish along the waterline on Seven Mile Beach is unknown, according to the Department of Environment, and appears to be confined to a single species. The fish, which were reported to the DoE Wednesday 23 June, appeared to all be filefish fry about 2-3cm long, possibly white-spotted filefish, but because of their young stage of development the department is unable to identify the species with certainly. “Despite the large number of dead fish observed over several miles on southern and central Seven Mile Beach we do not suspect that there is a systemic environmental problem at this time,” said John Bothwell, Senior Research Officer with the Department of Environment.

“Though we do not yet know what caused this die-off, we haven’t found any other marine species that have been affected and so it is more likely some temporary environmental change that killed the large school of juvenile fish. Because of their extreme juvenile stage even a small natural change could have caused the die-off and we will probably never know its source,” he explained.
Sample fish were taken and have been preserved for possible future examination. The Department has also posted a request for information on possible causes and assistance with identification of the species on the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute.

Department staff have checked other coastlines around the Cayman Islands and seen no other incidences of a fish die-off but the public can report any new sightings of large numbers of dead fish to the department at 949-8469 or


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Armed robbers hit pizza shop

| 25/06/2010 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed there was an armed robbery at Domino’s Pizza parlour on Mary Street last night (24 June) at around 22:50. Three men who appeared to be armed with handguns and machetes stormed the store during the robbery and smashed the restaurant door.  The robbers threatened staff and escaped the scene with an undisclosed sum of cash but no one was hurt during the incident. The robbery occurred on what turned out to be a busy night for police, following a shooting in a West Bay bar around two hours earlier. This is the second time in a few weeks that a Domino’s parlour has been hit by robbers. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Earlier this month three teenage girls entered the Savannah location with machetes and threatened staff. Four suspects have since been charged with that crime.
Detective Constable Reid of George Town CID is appealing for anyone who was in the area around the relevant time and witnessed the robbery or saw the suspects fleeing the scene to come forward.

Anyone with information should call George Town police station on 949-4222 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS)

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Man shot in West Bay bar

| 25/06/2010 | 29 Comments

(CNS): Police say an 18-year-old man is in custody following a shooting  at Kelly’s Bar in West Bay. Although officers were unable to reveal the full details, a police spokesperson from George Town said a man had been taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound in the leg following an incident which happened around 8:40pm this evening (Thursday 24 June). Police said there were no suspects at this time but detectives were still at the scene and an investigation was now underway. Other CNS sources have revealed that the shooting appears to have connections with previous shootings in the West Bay area. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Anyone who has any information about the incident, or who was in the area of Kelly’s Bar at the relevant time and witnessed the shooting, is asked to contact West Bay police station on 949-3999 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Opposition registers co-ordinated no vote on budget

| 25/06/2010 | 19 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The four opposition members present in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday afternoon all voted an emphatic ‘no’ to the government’s budget as the appropriation’s bill was given its third and final reading. The leader of the opposition, Kurt Tibbetts, and his three colleagues, Anthony Eden, Arden McLean and Moses Kirkconnell, opted not to abstain but to register their objections with a no vote. Ezzard Miller, the independent representative, abstained from the vote, indicating that while he was not directly opposing the entire bill he had reservations about its passage. As the government has a majority, however, the four ‘no’ opposition votes counted for nothing more than a protest as the government was able to bring eight votes in favour of the appropriations bill, ensuring the passage of the budget. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

The opposition had made it clear during the debate that it would not be supporting this year’s budget as a result of the fuel duty increase of 25 cents per gallon. Tibbetts had also questioned the revenue predictions in the financial plan and stated that the opposition benches had concerns that once again the government was being overly optimistic about the revenue figures.
During the debate that followed which addressed the increase in fuel tax that government intends to bring into effect by 1 July, the premier hit out at the opposition benches for their criticisms of the 2010/11 budget and their lack of support for the fuel tax. He was particularly critical of the first elected member for Cayman Brac, Moses Kirkconnell, as the premier pointed out the Brac was exempt from the increase.
During the budget debate the exemption of Cayman Brac had been raised by Miller, who said he could see no justification for such an exemption and had been almost inclined to support the fuel rise had it not been for that exclusion. He pointed out that he represented constituents who faced a fifty mile round trip to work which was considerably more than those living on the Brac were likely to have to face.

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Mac asks CUC to absorb tax

| 25/06/2010 | 105 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The country’s premier has asked CUC and the pump operators not to pass on government’s 25 cent increase in gas tax to customers. McKeeva Bush told the Legislative Assembly on Thursday that the suppliers made enough profit on a gallon of fuel to absorb the new duty and pleaded with them not to make the people pay. He criticized the opposition for not supporting the levy, which he said was still small given the circumstances. Bush said they should be backing him in the plea to the fuel suppliers instead of criticising as, he warned, it could have been a property or income tax if he had not worked so hard to find an alternative.

During an extremely heated presentation of the bill to amend the Custom’s Tariff Law to increase government’s take on fuel from 50 cents to 75 cents a gallon for gas and from 60 cents to 85 cents on diesel, the premier said he did not want to do it but had been forced to find revenue from somewhere.
“Something had to be done to address the fiscal problem and we have chosen not to chicken out,” he said, referring to the difficult decision he made compared to what he said was the opposition’s inaction when the economic problems first appeared. “The fact is leadership requires prudence and I have made the tough decisions in the interest of the community.”
The mark up on fuel provided more than enough room, Bush indicated, for the suppliers to reduce that rather than increase their prices to the people and he asked them to help government with this situation. Bush told the Legislative Assembly (LA) that, when the UK government said the Cayman government could not borrow all it needed to get through this financial year, they told him he had to find the rest of it somewhere else.
The premier pointed out that he could have been standing up in the LA presenting a bill for property or income tax, and berated the opposition benches for criticising the fuel duty increase. He said their opposition to it was merely a political ploy and they were criticising without all the facts.
It did not suit them, he said, to support him and accept that the duty increase was a much more preferable alternative, as they would all prefer to make it look as though he had done nothing good for the country.
He said the decision to choose fuel was far less of an impact on everyone than the licensing increases proposed by the independent member Ezzard Miller. Bush claimed the duty would only equal a 5% increase on fuel bills and would be more equitable. He explained that this increase would vary with the amounts people consumed, whereas Miller’s suggestion would see people with small cars still paying as much as those with large SUVs.
Listing all of the ‘could have beens’ if government had introduce property or income tax, Bush said no matter how low these type of taxes started, they would always increase and everyone would have been paying a lot more than they will with this small increase.  He gave the comparison that just a 1% tax on a modest property of $200,000 would see owners pay $1000 per year. His fuel duty increase, however, would equate to only $120 per year on an average monthly bill of $200.
Becoming increasingly angry during his presentation as a result of the criticisms railed against the tax increase, Bush hit out at the opposition benches, saying he had been forced to go to the UK cap in hand and beg for money because of the mess they had left.
The premier said he had to take the licks over the fuel increase but it was the preferable option. “We couldn’t get out of doing something and it is the best thing to do,” Bush said. “You think this is what I wanted?” he asked the House rhetorically.
He said the opposition was misleading the country over this increase and the press were helping them. Bush criticised the Compass and CNS, which he said was rubbish, as well as the talk-shows and said he turned off the radio when the opposition were on as it was using the media to mislead the public.
Called up by the speaker, who told the premier to stickto the subject of the debate, Bush pointed out that he was speaking about what had been said about it on the radio, the blogs and in the press and was entitled to raise the issues as it was related. However, the speaker disagreed and adjourned the House before the premier had completed his presentation.
The debate is now scheduled to resume at 10:30am on Friday.

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