Call for wildlife protection

| 20/07/2010

(CNS): At the final public meeting hosted by the Department of Environment(DoE) to discuss the New Conservation Law, Cayman Brac residents asked how soon could the law be passed and raised concerns that it did not go far enough. Brackers wanted to know if small areas, such as nesting places of turtles, would be protected, as well as the shrimp hole on the south side, which, it was noted, was being polluted by runoff from the landfill. A rare cactus found only on Cayman Brac that grows by the side of the road is continually mowed down by Public Works Department, and the rock iguana population, already in decline, is further reduced on a regular basis as many are killed on the road. (Left: DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie – Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

In addition, Hurricane Paloma in November 2008 had taken a toll on wildlife, it was said; bats owls and tropic birds had all but disappeared, and these species needed additional protection. One resident suggested speed bumps on the south side road to reduce road kill.

So far, the owners of land on the Brac where turtle nests have been found have been co-operative, but residents asked, what if they weren’t? The law will protect large areas but Brackers wanted to know if it will also protect smaller but vitally important areas.

DoE Director Gina Petrie-Ebanks explained that small areas would be covered in the provision to protect critical habitats, which are identified and put on a map for anyone to see.

Under the new conservation law, the DoE would make conservation plans for any species they believed needed protection, and the public would have 28 days to comment before they went into effect. Such plans would allow the DoE to make broad recommendations about the preservation of species. As the law now stands, even for wildlife that is protected, such as the native iguanas, this protection is limited in its scope. Under the new law, the DoE would have the flexibility to make holistic protection plans for endangered and endemic species.

Residents bemoaned the fact that sometimes when land is cleared it is stripped bare, and of particular concern were those areas at the base and the edge of the Bluff since the Brown Boobies nest in the face of the Bluff. The DoE director explained that part of the critical habitat provision would identify the Bluff face (which is owned by the crown) as one such area; the land at the base and the top would remain in private ownership but the management requirements to protect the boobies would be controlled under the new law.

Answering a question as to how long an environmental assessment process would take, Ebanks-Petrie said that currently, when the Central Planning Authority or the Development Control Board process planning applications that require input from the DoE, they aim to do so within 14-days. Since the new law would allow the National Conservation Council to delegate functions to the DoE, she said she is hoping that for straight forward cases the department would still be able to deal with applications in the same way, so the council can deal with the big projects, and the DoE could deal with the smaller projects in a couple of weeks.

Concern for wildlife extended to the ocean and there were calls for more marine parks. It was also suggested that if they were named they would be more marketable – as Bloody Bay has been.

Ebanks-Petrie said that with part of the three year grant that the DoE received from the UK government under the Darwin Initiative they would take a comprehensive look at the marine parks and see if some areas should be extended. The DoE would be holding another round of public meetings to discuss this issue, she said.

MLA Moses Kirkconnell thanked the director and her colleagues for the presentation and said he looked forward to the final draft of the bill. He said the exchange had made his job (debating the issue in the House) much easier.

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  1. Caymanian at Heart says:

    I just wanted to commend Gina and her team for all their hard work recently.  They have literally been on a whirlwind tour of the islands in this appeal to pass the Conservation Law.

    I know people may think that this is their job, but they have gone above and beyond and some of the staff has given many many years of their life dedicated to fighting the "good fight."  Thank you!

    I also love the people of the Sister islands, they know the importance of this law and see what their island will become if they follow the ways of GC.  The Sister Islands especially are a mostly unspoiled treasure, I hope more people will visit them and see for themselves what Cayman can be if we have the proper plan in place for the future.


  2. Jason says:

    Some of you people don’t get it!  Whatever they deem protected by law is going to be protected FROM Caymanians indefinitely! You are going to see no Tresspassing Signs barring us from entering on these properties.


    I haven’t heard anything about reserving lands for national parks and more beaches for locals to swim in

    • Anonymous says:

      It has always amazed me that local Caymaniams tolerated Calico Jack being built next to the only public beach on 7 mile beach.

      Many days the spillover of cruise shippers onto the public beach is very noticable.

      Having alcohol sold next to a public beach is also surprising to me. As a foreigner I have no voice but if I had a voice and a vote I would have raised hell.

      I consider Gina to be a national heroine.

    • Bobby Anonymous says:

      Ya swim in de wata not de beach, fool,fool.

    • Caymanian at Heart says:

      what about all of SMB sand being crown land and not privately owned?

  3. Animaliberator says:

    Whether it be the Brac, Little Cayman or Grand Cayman, protection is not only required, it has become mandatory in order to sustain whatever little is left for future generations of people, wildlife and eco systems.

    Reckless driving, land clearing, fishing etc. will only lead to more overall destruction until there are no more resources or even opportunity to re-introduce what has been lost as a result of that.

    As menttioned in another article, a good portion of us seems to be living strictly in the now and do not care what may happen tomorrow not realizing that tomorrow is what one will need in order to live the day after that which includes of course all those species that we consider non-human.

    A lot of those non-human species are considered by too many people either a pest or is in the way of development once again failing to realize that these non-human species are vital to our own survival in the long run.

    Until we the people realize that tomorrow and onwards is more important then what is happening today, ecological disaster is eminent to the point of no return.

    Is that really what we want?  If not, we are certainly asking for it!

  4. anonymous says:

    Think it is a great idea to heavily protect Cayman Brac and fully protect Little Cayman with this law. In fact, lets make Little Cayman completely ECO and completely limit all development there from this point on. We can slow down development on the Brac as well by removing the incentives and subsidies to develop there.

    • Anonymous says:

      I certainly hope this posting is a joke. (Because it is.) You gotta be just messin’ with us here.

      But to be on the safe side I am going to proceed with a response as if they are serious:

      This is the type of response typical of a lizard-loving tree-hugger who does not have to worry about making a living in the Sister Islands and does not give a hoot about those who do.

      A thinking person would suggest controlling and planning development with a view to achieving a prudent balance between the natural environment and the built environment.

      Only an idiot would want to slow down development on Cayman Brac any slower than it already is! People in the Sister Islands are suffering from the island’s under-development and government is having to inject an inordinate amount of funds to keep the economy alive at it is. Any slower and the island will be in reverse.

      Isn’t it just a simply rosy idea to make development in the Sister Islands more difficult and expensive than it already is? Good-oh, Gina! Why not just make 100% of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman national parks, move all the bad old humans from the islands and let the boobies and iguanas have free reign?

      I am all for protection of the environment but when that protection steps so far over the line that it threatens human beings’ ability  to make a living and a life, then the point of protecting the environment is rendered virtually pointless.

      Who are we protecting the environment for anyway?

      He Who "hath founded it upon the seas" decreed that the earth was made for the use of and enjoyment by mankind . We are to have godhood (dominion) over the earth and live happily here. Ok, yes, with the dominion also comes responsibility to be good stewards of the earth and its resources. That we are having some problems with no doubt because you have the greedy irresponsible developers and entrepreneurs on one side saying "Bulldoze it all down and build high-rises". On the other side are the bat-lovers, tree-huggers and lizard-kissers who would love it if blue iguanas would take over the earth. There does not seem to be a middle ground between Mac saying "dredge the Sound, remove the mangroves, and build deeper channels into ritzy subdivisions", and Gina and her disciples trying to make development so difficult that soon we will all be living in tents. (Hell, when she finally gets her way and no more building are allowed to be built we would not even be able to live in the caves because that would disturb the bats!)

      Sadly, government has proven itself absolutely ineffective at implementing  prudent and thoughtful development models for any of the islands. Grand Cayman is rife with poor physical planning, and lack of social planning has rendered it barely fit for human habitation. God only knows what will happen to the Sister Islands when development starts to happen.

      Hey Brackers! Listen up! The Sister Islands populace needs to awaken from sleepy-island slumber and begin to take steps to produce and implement a development model for the island; a model which takes into account the type and pace of development Brackers are comfortable with, and one which encompasses social and economic planning as well as physical planning. If you truly care about your island then NOW is the time to begin!  Do not be lazy or complacent about this. If you do not wake the hell up and do this yourselves, (and SOON!) someone else will do it for you and I can guarantee that you will not like the results! (Re-read the posting I am responding to and you will get the idea!)


      • Anonymous says:

        You’ve contradicted yourself too many times for me toeven count!

  5. Caymanians against nonsense says:

    Surely the “Bluff Face” in the Brac cannot be “owned” by the Crown. It is clear that the Lands & Survey system does not identify it as a parcel. We need to stop making up this stuff.

    The next thing you will here is that the Pedro bluff face, or the bluff face in Cayman Kai,or the vertical rock faces inland around natural cisterns, etc is no longer owned by the land owners but by the crown. Total nonsense. Someone needs to seriously look into this issue.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would think that as a geologic feature the face of the bluff in the Brac can be "owned" by The Crown.  Simply because it cannot be subdivided and sold does not mean that it does not exist and does not have value – a value which may need protecting.

      It is my understanding that all shoreline up to the high tide mark is considered Crown land and therefore open to the public.  Certainly, Lands and Survey does not consider that a parcel either.

      Someone should also seriously look into your head.

    • Anonymous says:

      The face of the Bluff IS OWNED by the Crown and we in the Brac know and accept that as a fact.

    • anonymous says:

      Just look at a land registry map – it even has a series of parcel numbers for the cliff face, which are in Crown ownership. Fact.  Just enough slope to show it in a vertical plan.