Archive for November 6th, 2012

Mac backs down on port

| 06/11/2012 | 123 Comments

Mckeeva 1_0.jpg(CNS): The premier has finally capitulated to the UK’s insistence that he abandon talks with China Harbour Engineering Company on the cruise berthing facilities for George Town. Despite his defiance yesterday in the Legislative Assembly, on Tuesday evening McKeeva Bush also announced that he would be implementing the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility into local law without any changes to the agreement that he signed in London one year ago. Sources tell Cayman News Service that Bush was put under significant pressure by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to back down on both CHEC and the FFR during a long distance call to London.

See the full statement from the premier below

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Branson does about turn on turtles

| 06/11/2012 | 41 Comments

Branson and Ryan (223x300).jpg(CNS): The owner of the Virgin Group, who claims to be an avid support of conservation and who had been one of the critics of the Cayman Turtle Farm, has done an about turn on his position following his visit to the Cayman Islands. The shift in position by Richard Branson came even though he did not visit the facility. Branson, who was in Cayman for the KPMG sponsored Legend’s tennis tournament and Cayman Alternative Investment Summit, he said he spoke to people and learned that by breeding the turtles on land, Cayman has protected the ones in the ocean. It had, he said, created a tourist attraction while satisfying the “few locals” who continue to eat turtles.

“Obviously for many of us around the world we’d prefer that didn’t happen but in my opinion it’s certainly better than taking them from the sea. I’ve met the Chief Minister about the farm and he agrees there are some improvements that need tobe made,” Branson said in his blog following his visit to the Cayman Islands.

“There are still too many kept in one tank at a time and the farm needs to ensure there are regular checks of the water quality and also monitor the health of the turtles. The local experts assured me changes were happening and the farm also releases a lot into the ocean which is building up the numbers in the wild," he added.

Branson is part of an organisation called the Oceanic Elders which champions the conservation of oceans, and his sudden change of heart is unlikely to sit well with them. In addition, his revised opinion was picked up by the British press, who pitched the idea that he and Paul McCartney would soon be at “loggerheads” because the former Beatle had thrown his weight completely behind the World Society for the Protection of Animals campaign to have the farm become a conservation facility.

Whatever the reason for the Virgin boss's about face while here, he had lots of praise for Cayman’s conservation efforts, which he seemed to think were down mostly down to the courage of the country’s “prime minister”.

Speaking to the former owner of the Ritz-Carlton, Michael Ryan, who was responsible for the removal of more than $370,000sq ft of mangroves on land in Safehaven, Branson said that it was great to see the environmental efforts undertaken by the Cayman Islands Government.

With the backdrop of the DoE currently attempting to drum up support for their plans to protect Cayman’s marine environment for the next 25 years, Branson was impressed by the existing protection for conch, lobster and grouper. Branson said a lot of islands in the Caribbean did not have such protections and as a result conch and lobster had almost disappeared.

Branson told Ryan, who has yet to explain what he now intends to do about the promised mangrove replenishment programme on his former proposed Dragon Bay site given his current difficulties, that it had been a pleasure to be in the Cayman Islands and to meet with “your prime minister” as he had listened to the way Cayman was protecting the oceans around the islands.

The Virgin boss informed the standing room only audience that he was impressed that “the prime minister has been brave enough to protect the grouper. There are certain places in the world where enormous quantities of groupers come to breed and they could have been stamped out without creating that marine park.”

Despite throwing hisbacking behind the Turtle Farm, Branson talked about sharks, none of which are protected in Cayman waters. He said sharks were being decimated as one and a half million are killed each week for their fins so the Chinese can have shark fin soup.

“The Oceanic Elders are going out to campaign to try and get countries to protect sharks and they are trying to get people in China to realise the damage they are doing,” Branson said about the conservation group of which he is a member.

Speaking about manta rays, which are killed for their gills, he said, “It’s absolutely ghastly to see the slaughter of giant manta rays around the world for medicine … Where you do have marine parks created, local fishermen benefit enormously because the breeding that goes on in the marine reserves means the fish spill out. So the local fishermen do benefit from it. Over a few years they gain as well.”

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CCMI makes plans for Christmas fundraiser

| 06/11/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) is hoping to attract plenty of guests to its annual fundraiser this year in the hope of raising much needed cash to support the operational needs of the Little Cayman Research Centre. The Festival of Trees (FOT) is institute’s most important fundraiser when decorated Christmas trees are sponsored by individuals and business’ and auctioned during a glamorous dinner. CCMI focuses on marine sustainability and also provides up to date education information and environmental/conservation-based courses for primary, secondary and further education students.

This year the Festival of Trees launches on 19 November with a primary school Christmas Carol competition with Christmas Tree viewings throughout the week until Friday 23 November culminating in the Gala Dinner and Auction on 24 November. The dinner will be provided by the restaurants in Camana Bay including   Abacus, KARoo, The Black Trumpet, Ortanique and Michael’s Genuine.

“This year, we are focusing on providing sustainable solutions where possible, giving everyone the opportunity to get involved,” officials said. “The CCMI Lionfish Culling Tournament is being introduced to help provide fresh fish for the Gala Dinner and reduce the numbers of the pesky invasive alien species. Teams (minimum of two, maximum of 10) will be able to enter the tournament, win fantastic prizes and contribute to CCMI’s fundraising goals.”

15th November – Sponsors tree decorating workshop
17th November – Lionfish Culling Tournament – please register your teams asap at
19th-23rd November – Christmas Tree viewings from 5:30pm until 7:30pm
19th November – Primary School Carol Competition – please register your school, open invitation to attend
23rd November – Camana Bay Christmas Tree Lighting, Festival of Trees open to public
24th November – Gala Dinner at the ARC. Tickets are $150 CI per person and the tables seat ten and can be reserved by emailing


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Sir John A Cumber remain undefeated

| 06/11/2012 | 0 Comments

2012pflrally 48 (1) (253x300).jpg(CUC-PFL): The Sir John A. Cumber Primary Under 11s continued their undefeated start to the 2012/2013 CUC PFL season with a convincing 10-2 victory over Truth For Youth this past Saturday at the Annex Field. Four goals from their talismanic midfielder Barry Dre Tibbetts, a hat-trick from Demonte Seymour, two from Jahvion Bodden and a solitary strike from the smallest player on the field, Shonjae Bodden, was enough to see off Truth For Youth. It wasn’t as easy as the score indicated as the Opening Rally champions came from behind after Truth for Youth’s Gabriel Fisher had put his team in front early in the first half.

Young Mr. Fisher found the back of the net for a second time just before half time, which cut the deficit to two leading into the second half. Sir John A. Cumber came out blasting away in the second half as they scored six more to finish the game 10-2. In the earlier game, Sir John A. Cumber’s Under 9 team defeated Truth For Youth 4-1 thanks to two
goals from Daniel Wallace and one each from Rashad Powery and Romeo Thomas. Oscar Hernandez replied for Truth For Youth.

Other results from Group A were Savannah Primary 8 vs. George Town Primary 0 (Under 9); Savannah Primary 2 vs. George Town Primary 6 (Under 11) and the St. Ignatius Prep vs. Grace Academy game was postponed.
In Group B it was South Sound Schools 2 vs. Red Bay Primary 1 (Under 9); South Sound Schools 0 vs. Red Bay Primary 6 (Under 11); NorthEast Schools 3 vs. Bodden Town Primary 3 (Under 9); NorthEast Schools 3 vs. Bodden Town Primary 1 (Under 11); Cayman Prep 12 vs. Cayman Brac 0 (Under 11); and Triple C 1 vs. Prospect Primary 5 (Under 9).

The 2012/2013 CUC PFL regular season continues this Saturday, November 10 with games at various venues across the Island.


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Local watersports pioneers honoured in hall of fame

| 06/11/2012 | 5 Comments

Capt. Marvin (cropped).jpg.jpg(CNS): Capt. Marvin Ebanks who helped establish Stingray City and James Ebanks an early dive operator are to be honoured for their outstanding contributions to the Cayman Islands dive industry during the Scuba Diving Hall of Fame awards on Wednesday. The two respected local pioneers will be acknowledged alongside eight other individuals from the international dive community, the tourism department said in a release this week. Founded in 2000 by Cayman’s tourism ministry and the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF) the gala event recognises those who have dedicated their lives to the positive development of the sport and the industry.

Premier Mckeeva Bush who is hosting the gala said the local honourees had “devoted much of their lives to the diving industry in the Cayman Islands and to ensuring that our magnificent underwater environment is accessible to ever increasing numbers of avid watersports and dive enthusiasts.”  Bush went on to say that they had assisted in developing some of Cayman’s unique attractions, and ensured that the Cayman Islands retains its reputation as one of the best diving locations in the world.

Capt. Marvin Ebanks (96) said he remembers fishing as a boy with his father and stopping by a shallow area in the North Sound to clean their catch. They, and other fishermen, noticed that stingrays would congregate and eat the fish scraps that were being discarded overboard. In 1951, Capt. Marvin Ebanks returned to Grand Cayman after serving in the Merchant Marines and started running tours on a borrowed sailboat from a dock in West Bay for visitors to see the stingrays. He is now considered one of the founding members of Stingray City.

James Ebanks (42) learned how to dive at the age of 10 with his father, Clinton Ebanks, and brother, Clinton Ebanks Jr. – both of whom are past ISDHF honourees. It was duringthis time that he realised the ocean, and the dive industry, would become his greatest passions in life. He joined his brother and father in running the family business until 1993 when he acquired his own small craft and began his company which still caters to divers from all over the world today.

The two local nominees will join Lesley Leaney, Clive Cussler, Ron Kipp, Kelly Tarlton, Ric and Do Cammick, Armand and JoAnn Zigahn as the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. The ISDHF Board has also cited three of the dive industry’s earliest pioneers for induction: Maurize Fenzy (France), who developed the first production Buoyancy Compensator (BC); Edward “Ted” Eldred (Australia), who is credited with inventing Porpoise SCUBA gear; and Max “Gene” Nohl (USA), who invented the first Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA).

For more information the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, please visit the website at or contact the Department of Tourism on 949 0623 to purchase tickets.

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Young sailors get competitive at local regatta

| 06/11/2012 | 0 Comments

(Pablo Bertran Optimist championship winner (237x300).jpgCISA): Hosted by the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) the 2012 Scotiabank Youth Sailing Championship was held on 20-21 October in the North Sound. This annual regatta proved to be the most successful one yet in two respects. Firstly the number of sailors was the largest amount on record and secondly the youths proved to be more competitive than in previous years, “This year all the competitors that started on day one also went on to compete on day two which is particularly impressive as the conditions on day two were tough and dinghy racing is a physically demanding sport,” said Peta Adams, the CISC Race Officer.

There were a few standout performances over the weekend, but most notable was that of Pablo Bertran (pictured above) and Trey & Drew Milgate (Optimist championship & RS Feva fleet competitors respectively). Both Mr. Bertran and the Milgate brothers had seven first place finishes in as many races. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Pablo; he faced stiff competition from the three-time champion, Allena Rankine, who was constantly nipping at his transom around the racecourse. But Pablo was just too fast on the day.

In the hotly contested Laser Radial class, the 2010 Youth Olympian, Lizzy Wauchope, and 2014 Youth Olympic hopefuls Jesse Jackson, Shane McDermot and Thomas Bishop all battled for laser supremacy. After a dominant performance in the first two races on day one, it looked like Lizzy was going to sail away with the first place trophy – uncontested.  But a resurgent Jesse came back on day two and fired three bullets, which catapulted him into first place – earning him his first youth championship. There was also a strong challenge from Mr. Bishop who sailed very well and finished the last race of the series with a bullet, which guaranteed him a second place finish, two points ahead of Lizzy.

In the Optimist green fleet, Charles Allen had a field day, dominating both days of sailing and in the end winning quite comfortably by an 18 point margin.

In the Pico class Jonathon Wight, sailed a consistent regatta to hold off competition from Jade Wilkinson & Sam Bailey, and Matthew Hanson & Doug Rowland who finish in second and third place respectively.

The final day of the 2012 Scotiabank Youth Sailing Championship was not one to miss with 10 to 16 knots of north-easterly winds. The youth sailors showed off their prowess in the stronger winds (not to say that there weren’t a few capsizes). For the families and friends watching from the sailing club’s dock it was quite the spectacle.

Raph Harvey, the CISC Club Lead Instructor, said, “The turn out, performance and endurance that these youth sailors showed demonstrates that the youth sailing programmes are yielding results and that sailing in the Cayman Islands has a bright future. All of this would not of course have been possible without Scotiabank’s unwavering support for youth sailing in the Cayman Islands and we thank them again for another year of sponsorship.”

While this year’s competition had the biggest turn out ever, the CISC are very excited about an even bigger event next year. For more pictures of the regatta check out the facebook page: Cayman Islands Sailing Club and the National Sailing Center.


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Caymanian ‘Essex boy’ swims to gold in Britain

| 06/11/2012 | 0 Comments

david ebanks (223x300).jpg(CIASA): David Ebanks, whose grandfather Levy Austin Ebanks, was from West Bay, swam to gold at the British Masters Nationals last month in the 50m and 200m breaststroke, pulling in two personal best times (pb’s) of 29.38 and 2:27.19 at the same time, under the Cayman flag. These recent accomplishments have focused him on qualifying for the 2013 Island Games in Bermuda and beyond that the Commonwealth Games. Born in Harold Wood, Essex, England in 1982, David started swimming with the Killerwhales Swimming Club based in Hornchurch, Essex when he was 10 years old.

He continued swimming, working his way up through the team’s squads – winning his first Essex Championships in 1997 in the 100m Breaststroke. In 1998 he won two more titles in the 100m and 200m Breaststroke, qualifying for the British National Championships in Leeds; and that year he also won the Southern Counties Long Course Championships in the 200m breaststroke.

“My swimming career fizzled out when I was about 17 years old, but after returning to the pool in 2010 at 28 years old I realised I could still swim,” Ebanks said. “After 2 months training I beat my lifetime pb in the 50 and 100m Breaststroke at the local Essex Masters Champs – with times of 31.80 and 1:11.7 respectively.”

By the year end – October 2010 – David finished 7th at the British Masters Nationals in the 50m breaststroke in 31.23 a time which qualified him for the Island Games July 2011 – Isle of Wight.  Swimming for the Cayman Islands (his Caymanian Status was confirmed in 2000) David qualified for the 50m final where he swam a pb of 31.09 and finished in 5th place.

Continued training saw a new pb in his 50m Breaststroke to 29.88 and a 2nd place finish in the British Masters Nationals in 2011 and a 4th place finish in the 100m Breaststroke, with a pb of 1:06.42. In May 2012 David competed in the long course British Masters Nationals and finished 2nd in three events – the 50m Breaststroke, 30.90; 100m Breaststroke in 1:10.97 and the 200m Breaststroke in 2:37 in the 200m.

The British Masters Nationals gold medals in the 50m and 200m breaststroke were marred only by a too fast start in the 100m which saw him “struggling” home in 3rd place in 1:06.90 – lessons learned! A bonus swim in the 100IM gave him a 3rd place finish in a time of 1:01.43.

Ian Armiger, the Cayman Islands Technical Director for Swimming was delighted with the news of David’s recent swims.

“He is dropping time each time he swims and is well on his way, if he keeps up this level of training, to qualifying for the Island and Commonwealth Games where he would represent the Cayman Islands. This is great news for David and great news for Cayman Swimming.”

David’s grandfather Levy Austin Ebanks was born in Cayman and was from the West Bay area. David visited Grand Cayman in April of this year, where he spent time with his Uncle Des, who was born and raised in Essex, England with David’s father Michael but now lives in South Sound with his wife and two children. David also met some of his more distant relatives who still live in West Bay, many of whom knew his grandfather Levy (known locally as BB) verywell.

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UK public sector accounts qualified by audit office

| 06/11/2012 | 7 Comments

Bean Counter_0.jpg(CNS): While civil servants in the Cayman Islands are still struggling to produce any meaningful public accounts, auditors in the UK have also qualified the whole of the British government accounts for the second consecutive year. According to a report on Public Finance, a specialist news website, the qualification was due to ‘significant issues’ with the quality and consistency of the data used in the financial statements.  The accounts have also been published quite late with the 2010/11 financial year end accounts coming out more than a year and a half after the period they refer to.

The 2010/11 Whole Government Accounts were published last week and the UK’s National Audit Office qualified the accounts on six grounds, including the valuation basis used for local authority infrastructure assets, the quality and consistency of the data provided by the health and education sectors among other issues.

The accounts were also late as they were completed 19 months after the end of the financial year. Experts in the UK advised that faster production of figures would allow the WGA to be more widely used for financial planning in Whitehall.

While the UK public sector bean counters may also be struggling with the timeliness and quality of accounts, the UK has a far larger and more complex public sector than Cayman and despite being over a year late, by comparison at this stage Cayman is now eight years late with its entire public sector accounts or the EPS which is equivalent to the UK’s WGA.

In addition, although the UK accounts were qualified, the Cayman Islands has in some cases not even reached the point where the accounts can actually be properly audited and when the Cayman government’s entire accounts for 2010/11 accounts are finally published the auditor general will be issuing a disclaimer which means that nothing in the accounts or reports can be relied upon.

See article on UK government accounts here

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Personal responsibility

| 06/11/2012 | 16 Comments

Our country is now at a crossroads as our premier faces, basically, an ultimatum from the UK on the FFR and the CHEC deal.  He has been told that he needs to pass the FFR as agreed upon and signed by him over a year ago, and that due process must be shown with the dock fiasco.  This, along with many other problems over his leadership and ongoing investigations, has produced overwhelming  support for him to step down and, if he fails to do so, for the UDP elected members to remove him as they can constitutionally can do.

The problem is there is a lack of people taking personal responsibility for their action – first and foremost the premier, who is claiming that he signed “under duress”.  It must be remembered that he gave not just his word but, as our leader, the word of the Cayman people that he would carry through on the undertaking.  He is now backing down on that, breaking not just his word but, by default, the word of the Cayman people.

Our elected UDP members, who are turning a deaf ear to the desires of the people who elected them, are not taking personal responsibility. They were elected, not to do what is best for the premier, but for the people.  They are not doing so and will be held responsible by the people for blindly following the premier’s lead with no consideration for what is best to save our country.

The Cayman public is also not taking personal responsibility. In the comment section here on CNS and comments on the Compass website we have hundreds of people giving their opinions of what should be done.  People are calling for the premier to step down, for the UK to take over, for the UDP members to deal with it, and all the while doing it under the guise of “Anonymous” and other hide-behind-names.  How can we expect to be taken seriously if we are not willing to take personal responsibility for our beliefs and comments?

Maybe I can start a trend.

I, Len Layman, believe that the premier should step aside.  I believe that if he doesn’t, the other UDP members should force it. If neither of these things happens, we should not blame the UK for the outcome.  I believe a large majority of Caymanians believe as I do.

Agree with me or disagree with me but please stand up and do it openly.  We can make a difference if we do.

I believe if we all take personal responsibly we can change things for the better.

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7th dengue case identified as local transmission

| 06/11/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Public health officials have now confirmed that results so far from the 32 recent suspected cases of Dengue fever under investigation by the Health Service Authority seven of the victims contracted the mosquito borne disease locally.  A further eight cases had travel history to endemic countries where they are believed to have picked up the disease. In five cases the people were ill enough to be admitted to hospital, three other admissions are awaiting results and two patients believed to have dengue were found to be negative.With Dengue at epidemic levels in other parts of the region, the MCRU is working flat out to keep levels of the aedes aegypti down in particular West Bay where all of those who have caught the disease locally lived.

However, officials are hammering home the message for people to do what they can to protect themselves from the disease by wearing repellent staying indoors during the peak times such as sunrise and sunset, preventing water collection in empty vessels in local yards such as buckets, coconut shells, wheel barrows, flower pot saucers, trash containers, empty bottles and tyres.

Dengue fever is an acute illness, caused by a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pains, pain behind the eyes, and rash. Some cases can be very mild, while others can show disorders in blood clotting, which can result in internal bleeding. This is the severe form of dengue, also called the haemorrhagic form. The haemorrhagic dengue fever is associated with loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever, headache and abdominal pain.

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