Cayman celebrates 25 years of marine conservation

| 14/04/2011

(CNS): It’s 25 years since the Cayman Islands first took steps to formally protect its marine resources with the Marine Parks Law. The parks were established in April 1986 under the slogan “Save Our Tomorrow—Today”. Over the past quarter of a century there has been increasing international recognition of the ecological and economic importance of Marine Protected Areas, and the success of the Marine Parks and the islands’ reputation for healthy reefs draws millions of visitors to support our economy. The Department of Environment (DoE) has now partnered with Bangor University and the Nature Conservancy to conduct a scientific review of the protected areas — evaluating reef health, fish and invertebrate biomass, and fishing pressure inside and outside the parks on all three islands.

In the latest edition of the department’s newsletter the past, present and in particular the future of the parks is examined in detail. Since the parks were established, threats to the marine environment have changed. In addition to increased fishing pressure and habitat destruction, our reefs are now threatened by invasive lionfish and by the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change.

The DoE is collecting sightings of staghorn and elkhorn coral around the islands, species that were once common reef building corals in the Caribbean but are now decimated by multiple threats. Coral bleaching, disease, hurricanes, sedimentation, nutrient enrichment and habitat damage have dramatically reduced these key reef builders.

In order to map the distribution of rare branching corals in the Cayman Islands divers and snorkelers are asked to send pictures and sightings giving the details of the location and when the corals were sighted. The DoE team is asking observers to describe how abundant the coral was and its condition — was it healthy, diseased or bleached? — and contact details for those willing to answer follow-up questions.

See DoE’s Marine Research News below.

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Category: Science and Nature

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  1. Caymanapedia says:

    "Conservation Law" a mythical law which, like the unicorn and the Virgin Mary, appears from time to time to select people only to disappear again for protracted periods.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mac will never allow a Conservation Law until he has all the “deals” locked up with his money friends from around the world. Then once their destruction is grandfathered in he may allow it.

    But only if Mac – In – Cabinet has the right to overrule it.

    • Married to a Caymanian says:

       Save the world, EAT BEEF.

      Just listen to the Cayman Islands National Trust:: = eating  Reef Fish kills our sustainable food-chain, simple.   Eat non-reef fish please.

  3. Anonymous says:

    don’t forget to buy some hammerhead down town too!….zzzzz

  4. petermilburn says:

    My heartfelt thanks and congrats to all who worked(tirelessly)on making the Marine Parks a reality.I remember well the meetings held in the various districts and the abuse(verbal)that was handed down by many but here we are 25 yrs later and most if not all would agree that the Parks are working and doing the job they were set up to do.We have come a long way in the fight to save our marine environment but one last thing needs to be put in place and that is get the Conservation Law passed as well.What an anniversary presnt that would be.Well done to all that worked their butts offf to make this all come to pass.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Milburn, I wanted to record a thumbs-up, but as it happens all too often on this site, the vote feature refused to work. Imagine how Cayman would be now without its marine parks, and after decades of a fishing free-for-all. As it is, the marine life is appallingly depleted,  compared with how it was 20 years ago. We need to do so much more to restore our priceless dive industry.

      Now we can look forward to the Easter camping weekend. A couple of years ago, every single conch was extracted from the waters at Pease Bay by the campers. The impulse to harvest the last remaining edible animal seems to be very strong in Cayman.

      Look at the pressure being brought to bear on the DOE by the fishermen of the Brac, and supported by Julianna, to open up the last remaining grouper-spawning hole. Cayman is  like a man who has inherited a fortune, and can’t discipline himself to live  on the interest, so he spends the capital, imagining, without any evidence, that he has another rich uncle to leave him a further fortune when this one is spent.

      CNS: We do our best to correct any glitches. If the thumbs were grey then someone at your IP address (on the same network) has already voted. If they were blue and you cannot vote please send an email to and explain the problem.

  5. Anonymous says:

    And to celebrate we cut up a hammerhead shark in the middle of Georgetown! Mercury laced meat for everyone!