CITA backs DoE on marine park plans

| 27/11/2012

25 Years Marine Parks Coral Reef.jpg(CNS): Despite recent indications that Premier McKeeva Bush, who is also minister of tourism, does not support the proposed expansion of the marine parks, the islands' private sector tourism body has publicly embraced the move to develop more secure marine environments for the future. The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has offered its backing for plans outlined by the Department of Environment to protect reefs and fish stocks that are threatened today as never before. CITA said that protecting conch, lobster and grouper is no longer enough; reef fish, stingrays, sharks, transient mammals, pelagics and coral reefs also need protection and without new measures the health of the reefs will continue to decline.

“A healthy environment and coral reef systems are Cayman's biggest asset and why hundreds of thousands of tourists, residents and businesses live in or visit our islands each year. Protecting the environment is not only good for the environment, but very good for all business and tourism in the Cayman Islands,” CITA said in a statement released Monday as the DoE consultation period on their proposals drew to a close.

“CITA believes that most Caymanians are in favour of protecting their future and heritage, but not as many are prepared to take the actions needed today to ensure that there is a tomorrow,” the association said, adding that it was critical that the marine parks do not stay the same as that would be a step backwards.  “The concept that the marine parks is 'taking away' is incorrect; the marine parks are giving back and the expansions proposed will do just that — give back more healthy reefs, more fishing stock and more opportunities to make a livelihood from the seas.”

Although not everyone agrees on the exact details on the proposed new marine parks when asked, most people want to retain the marine park system. The DoE has recently provided extensive evidence that the existing protections and reserves in place have had a positive impact but are no longer sufficient, given the mounting threats to reef health and fish stocks.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie has explained on numerous occasions during the last few months that the threats faced by the marine environment today are far worse than those it faced 25 years ago when the marine zones were created, including continuing development, invasive lionfish, coral bleaching, climate change and much more.

The DoE recently engaged in an extensive consultation process on the plans it has outlined. It will now spend the next few weeks developing a policy recommendation to present to Cabinet that will attempt to strike the delicate balance between the needs of the environment based on scientific research with the wants of the community, especially those who are fishing or make a living in local waters.

CITA said its members are concerned about what the reefs will look like in the year 2037, 25 years from now.  “We all know that time will come, but won't know until then if we protected enough, too much or too little — 2 of these outcomes we will be thanked for, the other held to blame,” the association said in a statement. “More marine park reserves means more fish for divers, for snorkelers, for fishermen, for the health of the reefs. This has been proven by the Department of Environment studies over the last 25 years.”

CITA called for resources to enforce and protect what is at risk under any new expansion of the marine parks to safeguard the environment from poachers and violators.

For more details about the marine park expansion contact the DoE on 949 8469 or visit

See Forum topic: Marine Parks issue … time to speak if you care

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Category: Science and Nature

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Has any one read the ridiculous national conservation law? Mr. Bush is right but perhaps he needs someone to provide analysis for him to present the public for them to see how unworkable it is.

  2. peter milburn says:

    I hate to have to come back on here to voice my utter disgust at the way DOE has been/is being treated by many so called people of the Cayman Islands.Its a shame that none of you on here with your negative attitude can seefurther ahead than today.Do you have children?Do you want them to enjoy what you have been enjoying all these years.If so shut the hell up and look at whats going on here.Our population has gone from 9000 when I first got here in 1965 to what we have today maybe 65,000 .Do any of you nay sayers see the obvious problem?If not let me enlighten you Bo Bo.We cannot continue to take fish,lobster conch or any other species that live in our oceans around these 3 islands forever and the quicker you all learn that fact the better things will be.I am not saying we cannot take BUT we need to look at the root of this problem.IMMIGRATION.There are too many work permit holders that go fishing from shore and take basically anything big enough to swallow a hook.When you take smaller fish then they will not grow into bigger fish.You get my drift?.I have been around these waters longer than most and have seen the damage being done by overfishing on a daily basis and it is starting to ruin our Tourism product and I will say again without a pristine environment these folks will turn their backs on us and go elsewhere.Can we afford that?NO So what can we do about it?I totally agree that more enforcement is needed and badly so BUT when our present Govt does not see the need to support the one thing that will keep hundreds of Caymanians in jobs, how in Gods name can we get anything done?They shuffle back and forth putting band aid solutions in place and HOPE that the problem will go away.It will only get worse until someone WITH BALLS steps up to the plate and says "enough is enough"and makes some tough decisions.The DOE is only doing their job and that is to keep the public informed as to what is going on in our waters.Ask any of the "Older"north sound watersports operators what is going on and they will agree that we cannot continue at this pace and expect our natural resources to be there forever.A blind man can see this, much less someone with all their senses in place.

             Now I am not saying that we must stop line fishing altogether but something MUST be put in place to control what is going on now.Firstly I would not allow any more shore fishing by NON CAYMANIANS(work permit holders).This is where enforcement must be stepped up.This may sound very harsh but it may be the only way to relieve the situation that we now find ourselves in today.Some may say issue a license to these folks but again its not possible to enforce with what we have in place right now.The point is we need to save the marine life for future generations of CAYMANIANS not for the folks that are here on work permits.They will move on and when that happens more will take their places.I have seen some of these folks shore fishing and they are catching fish that are barely bigger than 4-6 inches.This is totally unacceptable and must be stopped.The countries where some come from are fished out for this very reason, so STOP it here NOW.Many people out there will continue to blame the Scuba Diving industry for the state we are in today but if the facts be known divers actually attract fish to many areas both inside and outside the marine park.I will not take sides when it comes to scuba divers either as some are known to be taking marine life while on nite dives whether from shore or on a boat and I will let them know also that I will find out one day who you are and turn you in for what is going on.Caymanians and Residents please educate your children in the proper way to respect and take care of the main thing that brings visitors to our shores OUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.(And you children out there who know how to do this please educate your parents)Its all about YOUR future now not mine.

  3. Michael Maes says:

    I was at the WB meeting, sitting in the front row, right before the "microphone".

    After the perfect presentation of the well thoughtfull research that has b
    een done in the last three years, it was time for Q&A.

    Surprisingly (or not), Bush rushed forward to grab the mic out of Miss Petri's hands….

    He congratulated her on her nice presentation and blah blah… and then said "dryly" that he will never let the proposition pass legislation!

    Being a non-native English speaker, I thought I misunderstood Mr. Bush's words, but then I heard the Yay's in the (stacked with fishermen) room and saw the people of DoE lower their heads in despair, their eyes projecting a feeling of a lost battle after three years of hard work.

    So I knew I heard and understood the man well.

    I was baffled…..

    OK, he could not agree on certain points, or maybe he didn't agree with any point, but it is simply discusting to do this in public, to do this in that way, to ruin everything on the final minute of a three year quest to a solution for the future of Cayman.

    He did this in WB because he knew there are many fishermen and he did this only to gain tens, maybe a couple of hundreds of votes.

    That man in his own seriously endangered the future of an entire nation, just because of his own personal gain.

    In Europe he could be impeached for that, maybe even prosecuted.

    He's behavior was shameless, dispicable.

    OK, some will say I have to shut up because I wasn't born here, true…

    But that puts me in the position of giving a non-biased opinion.

    And the only opinion I have is to ensure the children of Cayman of a bright (environmental) future.

    I hope we will reach that goal together!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lack of enforcement is the problem. We have laws and Parks now but there is absolutely no enforcement. More Parks won't necessarily help. I would recommend the following:

    Regarding conchs: 1) require all conchs harvested to be in the shell until the boat reaches land. 2) Stop commercial tourist boats from taking 10 conchs every day of the season, every trip.

    Regarding Lobsters: 1) close access to the dredge cuts in the North Sound. This is a congregation point and given the total lack of enforcement, there is serious overfishing in this area. 

    In general, enforce the laws we have now. I have been fishing, conching, lobstering,  and spearfishing legally in Cayman for over 30 years and I have only been checked one time.


    • Anonymass says:

      You were only checked once because you were legal (by your own admission). Do we really want the police wasting time checking legal people and not focusing on the illegals?

  5. Courtney Platt says:

    I pray that the whole island reads this article.  It is about time that a big group with voting clout spoke up for the true value of our reefs and their continual demise.  Please re-post the article on your Facebook page, Tweet it, or any other means you use to spread it so that the whole island is talking about this issue.  To fail now might well mean the end of our diving and reef fishing product and a lost opportunity for the future income of all Caymanians.  Bravo to the CITA for stepping up to the plate!  I do pray that the Chamber will follow suit.  This article hits the nail squarely on the head.  We must listen to the experts at the DOE now and accept their good advice, given with the best interest of all Caymanians at heart.  Led by a careing Caymanian, most at DOE are also Caymanians, just much better educated at marine sciences and specifically our reefs than most of us are!  That's why we hired them, why they have been trying so hard on our behalf and why we should listen to their advise.  God bless them and bless us all.

  6. Expat Businessman says:

    It is unfortunate that Bush and many Caymanians do not realize the threat to the beautiful waters of the Cayman Islands. Take if from someone who dives everyday, the reefs are dying. Without reefs, you have no fish. No fish = no diving, no fishing. No diving, no fishing = no tourists.

    You do the math.

    • Anonymous says:

      Poster 05:57……We feel we do not have a say in our country so we do not care, i wonder why?

      It will get worse..who cares anymore..its not ours anyway.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well what a suprise they want the whole island to be a dive zone. Dont tell me I bet the chamber of commerce supports it too.

    • Anonymous says:

      22:35 You are right we use to take care of our environment took only what we needed but then the great gods from the sky came and wanted to tell us what was good for us (greed)

      Now we feel we do not have a stake in our country so you know how the saying goes if i have no say in my own house,who cares if it is destroyed, a little late now..the expats want all of the money for themselves and we must have the crumbs, in our own country..try to see where this is leading, where will you run to next?.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Go ahead and implement the new Marine Parks but what about the LION fish that will be int rhe Parks.


    • Shore diver says:

      Let us hope that provisions are made to allow lionfish to be taken in the parks.   During my snorkeling and diving I see many more large concentrations of fish in the parks than outside the parks.  I KNOW the parks are helping to increase the fish population!

      • Anonymass says:

        If you're snorkelling, get a lionfish licence. It allows you to take lionfish from the marine parks. (In response to the first, uninformed, poster.)

      • Anonymous says:

        I support the parks but as a Caymanian I would like to be able to keep up my culture without breaking the law, please consider this!

        • Anonymass says:

          You can still fish (culture). Just outside the parks. In fact, the parks means that the fishing remains sustaianble. Cayman Culture. Anyone who tellsyou that the parks means no fishing or some removal of Cayman culture is lying to you. Parks in one place mean sustainable fishing in the other place. However, as the number of Caymanians (and other residents) keeps increasing some form of management is needed. Take it or have it (the fish) taken from you (by others greedier and stupider than those who went before them).

    • Courtney Platt says:

      The lionfish are certainly a big problem, but a different issue and are being dealt with by the very divers that someone on this forum has poopooed… and so far, at their own expense.   The lionfish arrived long after we got ourselves into this mess and are merely one more nail in the coffin.