EE port a risk to 20 dive sites

| 09/06/2011

(CNS):A local dive expert has revealed that at least twenty dive sites will be at risk if the proposed commercial seaport is allowed to go ahead in East End. Steve Broadbelt, the owner of Ocean Frontiers and CITA board director, has raised a number of concerns about the EIA completed on behalf of Joe Imparato's proposed project as he says the dive industry was not consulted. He warned that not only would at least two important dive sites be completely destroyed, another seven, which are the only sites accessible at certain times of year, are also under threat if the project goes ahead. Broadbelt said the risk to the sites and how that will impact the islands’ dive product has not been considered in the EIA.

He warned that twenty sites are within three miles of the proposed location and they could all be negatively affected or have thier access undermined if the port were to become a reality. Seven of the sites are located in the Half Moon Bay area within less than 800 yards of the proposed port entrance.

“If the EI consultants had consulted with local boat operators in the district, and in particular dive operators, they would have discovered that the seven sites which will be directly impacted by the dredging activities and subsequent commercial activities are the only dive sites that can be accessed at certain times of the year,” Broadbelt said following his review of the EIA.

He explained that when the wind direction is directly from the east with wind speeds in excess of 14 knots, safe diving conditions are confined to the seven sites in the lee of Half Moon Bay. These important dive sites enable local operators to offer year round dive trips.

“Without these sites, dive operators would not be able to offer divers the assurances needed to travel thousands of miles to experience what East End diving has to offer,” the dive expert warned.

Broadbelt pointed out that aside from the complete destruction of two important sites as a direct result of dredging, the other sites would be in jeopardy as currents and tidal flows may well result in silt and sediment reaching the sites during and after the work.

“The coral reefs are already under significant stress and are experiencing significant difficulty adapting,” he stated. “This has been documented by the Department of Environment by demonstrating a reduction in coral coverage due to impact from coral bleaching, coral disease and water run-off.”

The EIA states that additional new dive sites will be added east of impacted dive sites, but Broadbelt pointed out that there is no reef there, which seriously undermines the quality of the assessment which was commissioned by the East End Sea Port developer.

“If the consultants had conducted test dives in the proposed area to the East between the proposed port and the Blow Holes, they would have discovered that there is no reef formation or topography of interest to create a shallow reef dive site,” he said.

“The area east of Iron Shore Gardens (the most easterly impacted site) to the Blow Holes consists of flat 'Hard Pan' substrate which is of little interest for divers. Natural reefs cannot be created by man and take millennia to form, and the notion that the shallow reefs that are suitable for scuba divers are simply continuous anduniform along the entire coastline demonstrates how uninformed the recommendations are.”

The former Cayman Islands Tourism Association president added that the importance of East End diving to the overall tourism product was simply not properly considered in the EIA.

Broadbelt said that East End accounts for fourteen percent of the Licensed Tourism Room Stock and the district supports a significant amount of Grand Cayman’s car rental business. He noted that Cayman has traditionally attracted relatively high volumes of divers and has been particularly popular with affluent divers.

“In the 1990s, Cousteau estimated there to be 240,000 divers visiting the reefs, doing on average ten dives per person —  2.4 million dives per annum. Previous surveys also suggest that divers stay longer on island than other visitors and therefore spend slightly more than average. Diving remains an important tourism driver,” he said.

Broadbelt pointed out that government’s National Tourism Management Policy 2009-2013 had identified a range of excellent natural resources, particularly on the Sister Islands and in the Eastern Districts, which offer the opportunity to diversify the local tourism product but need to be protected.

While it spoke about some development in the Eastern Districts, any development had to be well planned, of high quality and in the context of a new environmental code. It also spoke about being of distinctive Caymanian character and sensitive to the environmental constraints of the site and its terrestrial and marine surroundings.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30pm at the East End Civic Centre.

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Comments (30)

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  1. Call a place paradise then watch it die..... says:

    It is all about risk and reward…… The risks are potential devastation to pristine reefs that are home and balance to our underwater environment and provide a huge source of revenue for the islands…….but mostly provide for something missing in our world…. beauty, diversity of nature and a piece of unspoilt paradise for generations ….. Please someone tell me what reward, what financial price is worth this risk?

  2. Alan Nivia says:

    This is why Libertarian's market based view of environmental protection is nonsense – you can't buy all the land so as to protect the near seas.

  3. petermilburn says:

    A lot of people in this country forget that it was diving and snorkling trips that put Cayman where it is today.Banking etc.came along at a later date.Once the people got here they realised how friendly the Caymanian people were(are)and the real estate market kicked in.soon after that when it was realised how beautiful and wonderful it would be for people to buy and retire here.The building boom came soon after that and now we find ourselves overwhelmed by projects that could lead to a downturn in our visitor numbers.Once our environment gets further damage the island will become like that old Clint Eastwood movie "The Good The Bad The Ugly"Take your pick as to  which stage we are in nowadays.

  4. big mike says:

    People of Cayman, the great country that I was born and raised in; we are now living in a time where if you do not step up to the plate to make your voices heard people will continue to step on you. Mr Imparato is a businessman and I understand that he has invested alot in these islands over the years and we thank him for that. He has been trying to quarry that land for years and finally he has found the right government that is willing to bend over backwards for his dollar bills.. Yes this country needs some developement, Yes we need to put some kind of business on the eastern side BUT do we really need to destroy a product so delicate as diving? Reefs take hundreds of years to form..No kind of artificial reef can ever replace what the good lord has blessed us with.. GET UP STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHT TO BE HEARD! 

  5. anon says:

    The Dving in the Cayman Islands is not only the best 'Shore-based' diving in the Caribbean, it is also considered one of the Top 5 diving areas in the world.

     I would also venture to say that the MAJORITY of our Stay-over Tourists come here as a DIRECT result of our Diving Industry's Reputation.

     With these islands VERY LIMITED resources, why would we gamble on destroying the most improtant resource we have on a mis-guided project such as the East End Seaport?

    • Paradise Lost says:

      $$$$$$$.  No vision, no long term planning, no concern of the long term implications.  The green trumps the blue once again. 

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you say such an unfounded statement, East end has 15 miles of coast line, that is 15 x 5280 feet of shore-based for  diving, if you reserve 600 feet for other development, we are left with78.600 feet of shore-base diving.

      Are you insinuating we preserve all the coast line for divers…what about our Caymanian fishermen? remember we had to fight the dive industry just a few years ago to maintain our fishing spots.

      Cayman today can't rely only on dive tourist…lets be real, we have more than adequat amount of diving area for the little tourist we are now getting.

      Giving up 600 feet of reef,  will not destroy our dive sites, our dive industry, or our ecology.

      If you people do not want development in the East end district, just say so, but stop playing Scientist,Invironmentalist, Ecologist, and tree huggers, and stop brain washing the Cayman people.

      If sacrificing  our  ecosystem was going to destroy Cayman… from the West bay cementary,all the way up to newland would  be destroyed…wouldn't you say? all these area have been cut down,  ripped up,tore down, and built up…now into   beautiful towns…

    • Lovingcm says:

      My family and I come to GC every year to dive, this kind of destruction would make us think about looking for some place different. We love GC, the diving, the atmosphere, we come to the EE because it is quite, peaceful and has the most beautiful dive spots. Please don’t destroy it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Bright guy that Broadbelt.  I like him.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I really wish our government had an agenda that properly considered the preservation of our natural resources, flora and fauna. I never understood why this port was even under consideration. East End is beautiful as it is and developing a port will only take a way from one of the true relaxation spots our island has to offer. Affecting the dive industry like that is completely unacceptable, regardless of profitability of the port. Cayman is known for their diving and by placing the port here and removing access, you are removing a part of not only Cayman's global reputation but history as well.  Furthermore, you will be displacing tour operators and dive masters by cutting sites and therefore their business. Think of the risk involved as well, the pollution and changing to our natural landscape. Because a report says it's "fine" doesn't mean it will be. Holding everything else constant, okay sure. Make that argument. In reality though there are too many factors that are unforeseen and I seriously worry that allowingthis proposal to go through will be regretted in decades to come. i'm glad the dive industry has shed some light on an area that they failed to address.

    Canada has so many national parks and protection rights and stipulations to ensure that they maintain a balance and preserve. Where is Cayman's long term strategy? Have you ever thought about that? What will we look like in 50years and have to offer the world? We can't rely on our banking industry to keep us afloat what with all the global competitors. You have to sell the life style and standard of living and benefits that aren't just monetary; a balance between business and pleasure. Foreigners want to live on a beach, to be on a tropical island. To experience things they can't at home. And let's not forget about us locals. I want access to these little Cayman treasures. I want my kids to experience them as well.

    Let's talk long term strategy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Our governments agenda for the ecology is to put off the much needed conservation law as long as possible so that they can push through all their get rich off their rich investors projects.  Then and only then would they pass something that might make sense.

      They can pass a much flawed Planning Bill ( which is still not straightened out) almost overnight.  But claim the Conservation law needs more review.

      I wonder who they are lookiing out for.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Pilar Bush should be ashamed of herself.

    She was the Director for Tourism for how many years? She knows first hand that the East Enders, North Siders, and Bodden Towners do NOT want this type of development! She was there when the people voiced their opinions during the GO East public consultations. She advocated for the small scale type of developments then. Now she is the owner of AtWater which represents Joe Imparato and the EE Seaport.

    P.S. She also represents Dart and was there at the WB community meetings regarding the Beach Access and Moving of the WB Rd.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If you ever wanted additional confirmation that the the dive industry is the "red headed stepson" to Caymanians and the readers of CNS the lack of interest in this issue is appalling.

    That the people of the Cayman Islands and the government do not appreciate the importance of the local dive industry to the economy of this country is outrageous.

    All these tourist divers are stay over guests of the country and many if not most are REPEAT, I say REPEAT, stayover guests in this country.

    One can only wonder what goes on in the minds of those people in the department of tourism.

    • Anonymous says:

      The people in the Department of Tourisme are ruled by McKeeva and are not allowed to have an opinion on anything.

      • Anonymous says:

        Every Minister of Tourism since Tom Jefferson has micro managed and run the DOT. The Premier is no different and the DOT performance since 1998 has been in the toliet. Shomari cannot use the restroom without asking Pilar. The entire DOT should simply be closed. Worse than useless.

        • Anonymous says:

          Close the DOT, are you crazy? DOT is one of McKeeva's biggest slush funds for trips overseas. Look for an increase in their funding when the budget is presented.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct. The Cayman Islands was built by tourism and diving was a very largepart of that program. Not today. The CIG, under the direction of the Chuckster and Pilar changed the diving emphasis from a core market to a niche market. They offered no replacement except a boxing match.

      Also folks, wheether you want to admit it or not, the Cayman Islands was built on foreign investment.

  10. 3rd CLASS CITIZEN says:

    UDP has become TOXIC to our way of living. They don't care about anything but to get their way on destroying our environment. Please stop them before it's to late.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Exactly. It also demonstrates how insignificant the Government & the CITA consider the diving industry to the tourism product of Cayman.When offshore finance has finally died here, diving may be one of the last things that draws tourists here. The CITA claims the Kittiwake is going to be the big tourist draw for the future, but what about the pristine diving at East End? I know which one I would prefer to see, if I was coming here as a tourist diver.I'd go to the wreck once, but I would return to the East End sites continually. 

    • NotSoFast says:

      We're told that a country as small as we are "must" have more golf courses so that golfers don't get bored on only one course – but all our divers are to go to the Kittywake and "done"???  Cayman is famous as a dive destination partly because we have no rivers, so our waters are clear with great visibility – we've already ruined the Eden Rock area, the reef is fighting climate-change, lion-fish, the demise of the sea urchins, over-fishing … and now we're thowing away some of the best sites we have? Really? You cannot "move" a dive site! 

       

  12. Michrl says:

    Of course it will do a lot a damage to many dive sites and totally unbalance the ecology of so many things. Mr. Imparato we know that you are not doing this from the goodness of your heart. The way I see it you are a taker and keep trying to make more money at our future detriment, stop kidding those of us who know you. If you really want to help, help all of those who could use it right now starting with the elderly and the sick Michel Lemay

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well if that doesnt end the debate nothing will!

  14. petermilburn says:

    I wanted to add to what Steve Broadbelt has said in that this area is very pristine and is one of the few areas that have survived the rigors of so much development compared to say the western side of Grand Cayman which is much more heavily dived due to weather conditions etc.Also taking into account that the natural "through"island movement of water makes for far more damage due to siltration etc. on the western side.Ever since the advent of the deep drains common all along the 7 mile rd corridor the reefs on the west side are showing the effects of two much "fresh"water being forced into the reef areas.In other words very much like islands that have rivers flowing into the sea but on a smaller scale.

         Any digging of a channel,forming of a breakwater area for storm purposes will in time cause major damage to East Ends reefs.Silt etc.will not only flow down the south coast but also flow towards the east as well and along the northern side as well causing even more damage to these beautiful reef areas. In addition to this there will be a large amount of sand moving along the coastal areas so someone will end up with a lot of sand while another area will be denuded of what sand they currently have.All these things must be taken into consideration. in the overall bigger picture.We cannot just say that this is the only area that could be affected. One only has to look at pictures of dredging done in the north sound over the years and you will see that silt travels in both directions east and west and this will have far reaching effects to much of the surrounding barrier reefs as well as deep reefs throughout Grand Cayman.The point is can we afford to take that chance and allow for such a massive operation to be carried out and combining it with dredging that will  also take place in the GT area for the new deep water pier?Many people will say how do I know this will happen?Well my argument right back at you is can we AFFORD to take that chance for once its done you CANNOT go fill it all in again if the damage becomes apparent which it will over time.Short term gain (for some)but long term pain (for most).I have said this over and over many times when you mess with Mother nature she WILL find a way to bite you in the ass BIG time.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Peter, let's face the facts, you and Broadbelt are making a damn good living from these dive sites….of course you don't want them touched, but remember many  Caymanians need some sort of development to sustain their existance also.

      Everytime we plan to do anything within the ocean, you guys are against it.

      The Scott brothers build a break water on the west end of Cayman Brac, with large bolders,  all the way out,to the what we call the white holes, there is  no silt built up, the fish, welks and seafood, are in abundance .

      The Government cut into the Iron shore ( lime stone ) at Spot bay to create a channel so  the people could launch their boats, there is no silt built up, the welks and fish are in abundance.

      Because of such currents we have around our shoreline, it drags away any impurities that appears.

      Yes we will get silt sidiments within some of our barrier reefs, especially the north sound where we have a mud bottom, but most of the reef around the East end areas  are sand bottom, therefore, you won't be getting any mud sidiments, reason is, the strong current that flows out of there.

      Our current is our savior, it keeps all our shore line clean.

      Please stop misleading the people.

       Mother nature takes care of herself, she won't bite us in the ass 

      • petermilburn says:

        That is certainly your opinion and I respect that but why hide your name? I dont normally reply to someone like yourself who hides their identity but you mention me directly so here I am.I am not afraid to put my name where my mouth is but then again I am not thinking about myself.Its my kids your kids and future generations that could well suffer because of the greed of people that have come before them and the people who only worship the almighty dollar.Maybe I will be proved wrong but until then I will continue to fight for what I believe in and with all the years that I have been in the water sports business I have learned to listen to what the older generation have to say and respect their opinions and advice..I am certainly not against development but sensible sustainable development is what we need and MUST have.You have a nice day and lets hope that your children my children will be able to enjoy a good and bright future but that depends on us doesnt it?

      • Anonymous says:

        I think you are ignorant to the fact that the coral reefs are dying. I dive them every day and see the damage overdevelpment has done. Without the reefs, you have no fish. Mother nature will certainly take care of herself by making it impossible for anyone to dive, fish and earn a living off the ocean and supporting business. 

        Caymanians do not realise how much business diving/fishing brings to this island. And it is the stayover guests that contribute the most. Not all of them dive by they usually accompany someone who does. And they return every year – sometimes mutiple times a year. Rental units, cars, restaurants, taxis, grocery stores all benefit greatly from our stayover guests. And as a dive operators, we spend just as much as any other business here to contribute to the local economy. 

        The cruise ships contribute a small fraction to the economy as the DOT well knows. They do fill the government coffers with port fees but when you look at the big picture, they do more harm than good.

        Without a sustaniable and healthy ocean/reefs, Cayman Islands will become a  third world country.

  15. Whodatis says:

    Frankly, for this "big hole / quarry / port" to be given the green light would be the height of insanity on this tiny island.

    We would literally be the laughing stock – or pitied stock – of the world.

    Honestly, can this dude be serious with this ridiculous proposal?

    This entire episode is so hole-riddled it is almost laughable.

  16. nauticalone says:

    No to the "Big Hole" at East End!

    This proposal is selfish and not in the overall best interests of Cayman.

    The EIA shows the negative and permanent damage. As does most learned people whom i've talked with (including the DoE)!

  17. Jason says:

    The EIA report was just 1 point of view.  That the dive experts were excluded from the report, tells you alot.

    • Anonymous says:

      Imparato got what he paid for .  An Independent bias report.

      Just like expert witness in court.  They are padi to defend the posistion of the people paying them.