DoE urges people to join discussion on marine parks

| 03/11/2012

coral_bleaching_250373.jpg(CNS): Following a number of well attended, lively meetings, the Department of Environment is encouraging everyone in Cayman that cares about the future of its marine environment to attend one of its last two public meetings in West Bay and Bodden Town this week. Officials from the department said Friday that while their proposals for the expansion of Cayman’s marine parks were based on research and science as well as a public survey, nothing is set in stone. All of the submissions, comments and alternative proposals for balancing protection with fishing access will be considered before the final parameters of the reserves are finalized.

Deputy Director Tim Austin said that the meetings so far have been lively and people have engaged with the process, and while there has been considerable support there has been opposition too. However, he said thatin most cases, those who oppose have made alternative suggestions and there is now some community coordination about where fishing access should be in the districts and where people are willing to accept the restrictions on taking marine life.

“The one encouraging factor is that everyone that has come to the meetings so far supports the concept of more protection,” Austin said. “While people may not always want that protection in their community, they see the need for it and are engaging in the process of consultation.”

Austin said that with two more meetings on Monday and Tuesday and an open door policy at the library at the DoE offices on North Sound Road until 23 November, the department was keen to ensure that everyone who has something to say contributes.

“We need to ensure that the future boundaries of the marine reserves and the restrictions in them are supported by the entire community for the conservation to work,” he said.
Pointing to the dire circumstances facing reefs around the world and in particular in the Caribbean, Austin said there was still hope in the Cayman Islands of protecting our reefs from the external onslaughts of climate change and bleaching events if the reefs were robust because of the protection from fishing and in some cases diving.

“If we don’t expand the parks and stay with the status quo we know that the fish stocks will begin to fall. The move to introduce protection 25 years ago has made Cayman what some describe as a beacon of hope in the Caribbean, if we make a concerted effort to improve the protection, we may eventually see the tide turn for reefs in a positive direction with greater recovery and therefore greater fish stocks.”

The key issue that the DoE is delivering is that the greater the protection the greater the fish numbers will be outside of those areas as well, which is where local people will see the benefit.

Austin said that the consultation period is about asking people how much they are prepared to support the science as laid out in their proposals and where compromises can be made that can still ensure a future reef.

See dates and locations for remaining meetings below.

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why were the district meetings not publicised better – esp West Bays – NO WORD ALL WEEKEND OR IN PAPERS

  2. Anon says:

    Judging from the lack of comments it is plain to see no one cares about this issue. Very sad indeed

  3. Special Needs Donkey says:

    Not a single comment? Just goes to show where national interests lie. Certainly not in the protection of the environment.

    But silence is not agreement in these matters and what will happen is that a handful of objectors will go to their representatives behind the scenes and any expansion of/improvement to the marine park system will be scuppered for the sake of a few buckets of sprats.