World famous diver calls for rational local policy

| 02/10/2011

(CNS): World famous ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau has called on Cayman’s minister with responsibility for the environment not to allow the proposed Emerald Sound coastal development to go ahead in South Sound. The President of Ocean Futures Society and international marine environment advocate has written to Mark Scotland, adding his voice to the opposition to the proposal, pointing out the negative impact the development will have. Cousteau has also implored the minister to come up with a “rational policy without loopholes" that will once and for all define what is and is not appropriate for the future of the islands.

The letter (posted below in full) speaks about the need to look beyond short term gain and what he describes as “the gradual and endless push to sacrifice” the future environment for the economic benefit of a few.

Cousteau has been visiting Cayman for more than thirty years and says in that time he has seen the human impact undermine the natural environment as a result of a failure to have a national policy to protect the islands’ coastlines.

The letter comes at a time when the Department of Environment is reviewing the marine parks law, the only piece of legislation that offers some protection to some parts of the islands' marine resources but at a time when the National Conservation Law seems to have been place once again on the backburner by government. Despite continuous consultation on the law since the UDP administration came to office well over two years ago, it has still not been brought to the Legislative Assembly.

For more informaiton about Cousteaus' work see:

Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society's FaceBook page

Follow Jean-Michel Cousteau on Twitter

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Category: Science and Nature

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Comments (38)

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  1. Pro Sustainable Development says:

    Thank you Mr Cousteau for taking the time to add your experienced and wise voice to this very important issue for us here in Cayman.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Cousteau!

    I would like to share a comment someone left on Compass online about this letter:

    Here's a person rich in the knowledge of the sea and man's impact upon it.
    His father, Jacques, co-inventor of the Aqualung (SCUBA) pioneered the exploration of the underwater world and its creatures.


    They can truly be considered a worldly sea-faring family with far greater insight of man's machinations upon the sea than almost any other humans alive.

    I feel that when he states development will be detrimental both above and below water we should take his advice and concerns seriously; not only locally but with a world-wide perspective.


  3. Anonymous says:

    This Causteau guy needs to also let his voice be known on other important things; ritz mangrove destruction, captive dolphins, turtle farm discharge, cruise ship anchors.  Thank you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The same ignorant minority that support destroying South Sound/Red Bay and everything else we have left environmentally are the same ones I suppose who voted in the ignoramous govt we have now.  Ignorance and greed are destroying us from every angle, environmentally and otherwise, and it is a National disgrace that will probably be the end of our tourism and finance market here.  As I have said before….the cruise ship companies would always come here with or without a port because Cayman used to be naturally beautiful and safe, both of which we are losing fast.  Thank you Mr. Cousteau for caring even though all you have said falls on deaf ears and blind eyes from the minister on down.

    • Here says:

      If they are the minority – how could they have voted in the government? Not sure you quite thought this post through. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    To all those bitching about his efforts, I dont see you doing anything but bitch. Do something and then u may have standing to point a finger. Its so easy to point the finger yet not get your hands dirty. If you have issues or a better solution then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT rather than sit on your couch and bitch about someone who is doing something.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr Cousteau,

    I take my hat off to you. This island needs more people like you to protect our shorelines as opposed to those that are actively trying to destroy them!!


  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your support Jean-Michel Cousteau – we're going to need it!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Since Cousteau has so much money and influence why does he not send over $2-300 million annually to be given to Caymanians in need and to those who will soon have a great environment and no money to live on. Give me a break!!

      • Anonymous says:

        This has nothing to do with the topic. And further more why are you asking a (world famous) conservationist for handouts? He is a marine conservation expert and not a billionaire giving handouts. Get off your coach and go get an education or training or start your own business. What has happened to you people!? Begging, lazy and no shame about it. There is more than enough money and opportunity floating around this island for everyone who puts a bit of effort into it to live comfortably.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why didn't Jean Michel oppose the captive dolphins here?  They are STILL here in case anyone forgot since it's not the news flavour-of-the-week.

    • Anonymous says:

      JMC opposed the dolphins big time. He was the designated spokeman via DOT for the diving industry. He told the then Minister of Tourism he could not endorse Cayman if we had captive dolphins. He was terminated.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Cousteau for your help with our efforts to protect South Sound!


    14 yr old, South Sound resident

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is just hilarious.  Cousteau doesn't say a peep on any other environmental issue in Cayman then joins the happy bandwagon against Emerald Bay.  Maybe Emerald Bay should hire Cousteau to do some "ocean futuring" too and have a little children's events with a few pictures.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you read the letter? His letter is as much about protecting ALL of our most important environmental resources with proper conservation legislation as it is about protecting South Sound.

      READ people READ. And THINK before you bark.

      Some seriously vicious people who clearly do not even take the time to read an article fully before attacking its subjects.

      Thank you Mr Cousteau for taking the time to add your experienced and learned voice to our pubilc deliberation on the protection of natural environment.

      And please forgive these angry people who don't think before they blog!


  11. Anonymous says:

    I am all for development in general. But I am not too heads over heels about Emerald Sound Development. lol….I am expecting to see comments made from Burns Conolly on this site soon, trying to convince people that it is a good development. I oppose it because of the number of people in South Sound community who has signed the petition against it. To me, "people" opposing this development, is more important than a handful of developers. And politicians should listen to the people and planning department should follow in sinq.  Now, in the case of removing the George Town dock, I support that 100% and do believe that South Sound would be an ideal location. I believe alot of people will not oppose this move, and unlike Emerald Sound development plan, the dock plan, is more economically needed. It is right in town, and the wild life there, I believe would make an attractive venue for visitors and small businesses alike. Just food for thought.

    • Anonymous says:

      Supporting or objecting to something because "of the number of people" that signed a petition is really not a good reason to object or support anything- Its called "follow fashion" in Jamaica. Get the facts and then make an independent decision, you seem like a very thoughtful and logical person.


      However, I totally support your comments regarding the port in South Sound…we can't risk our Seven Mile Beach at all and the Sea Captains know the dock in GT will impact the sand on the beach. Plus, downtown is far too crowded now anyway.

  12. Anonymous says:

    As I have said many times before, whilst the whole world is moving towards preserving nature and developing with the natural environment in mind, Cayman is always doing things backwards.

    How refreshing to be able to go on vacation where one can enjoy the natural beauty, obviously that is not going to be possible in Cayman anymore as there is nothing but concrete.

    • Anonymous says:

      Which visitors go to South Sound?  NONE  I use that road everyday, sometimes many times a day and I never see a soul out there on the water.  Maybe once in a blue moon a small boat.  They need to put the cruise ships there, they will be displacing no one, except a few rich people's views.

      • Anonymous says:

        And why do you choose SS rather than the by-pass, I've chosen that route to work for 20 years because of the views!

      • Anonymous says:

        How ignorant! Do you really believe that development is one area remains contained to that specific reason? Likely it is going to spill over into other areas as well. The problem is the precedence that is being set. Remember the Ritz at the first 7 story building???? Now look at 7 mile beach. Pretty with all those high rise condo buildings that are half empty all year around, isn't it? NOT!

  13. Anonymous says:

    To add your voice to the thousands who object to Emerald Sound development you can sign the online petition which has 900 signatures! (more than a thousand additional signatures on the paper version of the petition which you can contact Protect South Sound if you would prefer to signing the paper than online version )

  14. Anonymous says:

    Funny how no on is interested in protecting the rest of the Islands environment. I did'nt hear him comment on anything else!

    We must be the only country in the world that pays Environment protection officers for NOT doing their job because of STUPID politics!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      He specifically made a huge point of us protecting everything!

      Read the letter! Read the article!

      He spends more than half the letter saying we must enact rational conservation policy so that all precious Cayman Islands environmental areas can be protected!



  15. Anonymous says:

    It's quite fitting for Cousteau to finally say someting in relation to Cayman's environment, but it's unfortunate that he remains silent on many of the other larger problems, specifically relating to his partner here – Ritz Carlton.  Many questions have been directed towards him on this site in the past:



    Go to and let Jean Michel Cousteau know how you feel about his involvement with Ritz/Dragon Bay


    Q1. How should the public (and our children) interpret the silence from Jean Michel Cousteau, Ambassadors of the Environment, National Trust, DOE, and other groups which advocate the preservation of Cayman's marine habitats?  

    Q2. What excuse would you have us relay to them 2-3 years from now?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just as the objectors to Emerald Sound in South Sound are not opposed to all development –  neither I assume is Mr Cousteau.


      There has to be balance struck between economic development and environmental conservation.


      Development which has a net benefit to the Island and its inhabitants which far outweighs the environmental impacts should be considered (such as the Ritz which on a long term basis provides significant ongoing government revenue, jobs, and has improved the quality of our high end tourism product). Development on the other hand which has no benefit to the community, which only brings short term benefit to a very limited number of people and in fact does great harm to the community, development of the country and protected and important marine environment should not even be given serious consideration.


      The North Sound was identifed as the ONLY area where canal development would be allowed and particularly the 7 Mile Beach stretch – to allow for the creation of tourism facilities. 60% of mangroves in this area have already been cleared. There has been a policy to not allow canals outside of the North Sound and Emerald Sound's would be the first thus setting a precedent for allowing canal developments anywhere on GM! We should be protecting our coastline and not further opening it up and increasing the vulnerability of our coastal and inland areas as Emerald Sound would do.


      Mr Cousteau's Ocean Future's Society I believe got involved with Ritz long after the mangroves were cleared.


      Clearly, we as a country decided that this area (7 mile beach) of Grand Cayman would be developed. What is the point of jumping up and down and demanding areas that have been slated for development and mostly cleared decades ago be protected. Whether they were the right decisions, these decisions were made by our statesmen of the past and we live with the consequences. Without this decision we would not have any golf courses, no Hyatt and Brittania (which in the past was a real gem), no Governor's Harbour, Canal Point, Snug Harbour, Camana Bay etc.  We should certainly try to conserve as much as possible of the remaining area and hold developers to the highest environmental standards. And to be clear I do NOT think Ryan should have been allowed to remove the mangrove buffer and I do not think we should allow him to convert his land from lease to freehold.


      The fact Mr Cousteau would object to Emerald Sound development in South Sound and allow the Ritz Carlton Cayman to host his Ocean Future's Society program to teach children about the importance of marine conservation is not problematic to most rational thoughtful individuals who spend more thana few minutes to weigh the facts.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think your comments are a bit misguided and stretching the facts of the situations to suit your argument.  The Ritz Carlton mangrove area was hundreds of acres as was Camana Bay.  These are HUGE impacts to our North Sound.  I can't see how this can compare to South Sound where I can't even see a ONE mangrove.  Invasive Casuarinas can't count.

        I do agree with you though that we do need to create developments and projects in such a way that benefit multitudes of people going forward.  I feel the Government should stop Emerald Sound and acquire this area to be used for the Cruise Berthing facility that has been discussed heavily as of lately.  Finally, there seems to be concensus amongst Cayman that red bay is the right location and we should quit fooling around and get that project going STAT.  We need to get the cruise ships back.

        • Anonymous says:

          What have you been smoking?

          The only concensus on the cruise port being in South Sound is that this proposal is insanity and a laughable suggestion.

          The only people I've heard agree to this are Choppy Delaphena and the 3 or 4 Captains (who came up with the idea decades ago – when it might have made sense to consider it. That day is long gone).

          Not one other person has voiced thier support for this ludicris proposal.


          • Anonymous says:

            Clearly you don't live in Cayman or don't get out much.  Over 50 people were at the meeting they had last week supporting it.

            • biker says:

              Over 50 people!!!

              That's like……. ALMOST A TENTH OF ONE PERCENT of our population! 

              This surely shows 'the tremendous support' that those of us who "don't get out much" didn't hear about!


  16. Anonymous says:

    I am sure his jet drive boats and disruptive dives into the fish habitats do more harm than anything Emerald Sound would do. It is clear from this letter that he speaks without knowledge of what is being proposed. When he visits his rich friends at Ritz Carlton next time someone should give him a tour so he will know where South Sound is.

  17. david miller says:

    How wonderful. But did anybody ask him where we should put a dock? He may think that the cruise ships should continue to destroy the reef in georgetown. Maybe no one has given him all the facts. I believe that the cruise ships should be in south sound : (1) It opens up the island more . (2) Its about time the east gets some of the business. (3) The reefs in georgetown are the best for all the divers who come to cayman (4) Go on a glass bottom boat so that you can see the damage to all the reefs in town.(5)The cruise and cargo ships have hit every reef from Eden's rock to Treasure island. (6) When we put the shipwreck Kittiwake didn't we give up some environment? (7) Should approximately 20 dive companies have more rights then 2000 families who depend on cruise ship business? (8) This is the problem we will have if we don't start thinking about changing some of our laws. Lets try some Bermuda laws. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Which is exactly why we should protect South Sound which has been protected as  a replinishment zone and recovering for over 25 years and is a far more pristine environment than George Town which you point out has already been trashed by cargo and cruiseships (3, 4,5). And GT is a deep water port unlike SS which would have to be blasted the heck out of and enormous amounts of dredging to get cruiseships in. This proposal is a joke.


      1) We should not be opening up the land more! We need to be protecting it! Both in terms of protecting from storm surge and also as pristine natural environments. We are already massively over capacity with houses and house lots and canal lots.


      2) How is having the cruiseship port in South Sound going to bring more business to the EAST? That is 5 minute drive from GT  my friend. Have you never been to Cayman?


      All the infrastructure already exists in GT and it would all have to be replicated in SS (billions of dollars and dozens of buildings, walkways, shops, cafes, restaurants, bus and tax areas etc). Leaving GT as a ghost town! The final nail in the coffin for GT after Camana Bay. This would devastate businesses in the downtown GT area who have invested billions into building this area up and employ thousands of people. 


      Agreed our laws need to change and someone with some sense needs to come up with a plan for rational development strategy, including key infrastructure,  for Cayman for the next 5, 10 and 25 years. And not every Tom, Dick and Choppy.


      • Anonymous says:

        Billions?  Certainly you don't care about facts.  There was a study done a few years ago that said there was roughly 100,000sft of retail space (not office space, which tourists don't want to see anyway) in town.  If you use a square foot price of $300 (really high!!!) That would be $30,000,000 to recreate this somewhere else.  But hey, who cares about facts. 

        The captains are not proposing to recreate George Town though!  They would bus the people there and wherever else they are going – they just want the dock to go in the right spot, which Red Bay is.  However, the fact that this bothers you is unfortunate but sometimes you have to give a little to get a little!

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes billions is not what it would cost to recreate the most basic of facilities for tourists in South Sound. But billions have been spent building downtown GT up to what it is today (tourism, finance, retail facilities combined). 

          And further more, $30 million dollars, to recreate something we already have just down the road, is still a lot of money for a country that is broke. 

          Plus, who is going to compensate those who have invested heavily in tourism in GT??!

          This would be the most embarassing white elephant project in the REGION!

  18. Anonymous says:

    A voice of sense and reason. Thank you!!

    Please Cayman listen up…..

  19. Anonymous says:

    Fabulous letter!  Thank you Mr. Cousteau.  The world is certainly watching.