NCL to be in force January

| 18/12/2013

(CNS): The environment minister has said that the National Conservation Law passed in the Legislative Assembly on Friday with the unanimous support of the parliament should be implemented in January. Wayne Panton said that because the new legislation repeals the old Marine Conservation Law, regulations will have to be drafted to ensure that all of the species that were protected under that slide over to be protected under the new legislation. He said that officials should be able to complete that work and the amendments to the draft legislation in the New Year and pass the final law to Cabinet to approve the start day before the end of January.

The changes made to the bill by the minister as well as those proposed and accepted by the independent members have also been released (see below) so the public can see where the draft, which was published prior to the debate, has been changed as a result of input from the public and from MLAs.

From the introduction of mandated open meetings, which was proposed by Panton, to the requirement for the Conservation Council to consult with the adjoining landowners wherever it designates conservation areas, which was put forward by the North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, there were more than 30 amendments put forward during the committee stage on Friday, which led to the minister achieving the full backing of the Legislative Assembly for the long awaited bill.

Some of the amendments were administrative, others more significant and some were made to give comfort to members and reassure them that the bill was not a 'land grab', as had been suggested during the debate. 

The word "acquired" was change to "purchase" in relation to government buying land to set aside as a conservation area, which was of particular concern to Miller, who had challenged the minister to back his position that government would not use the acquisitions law to force land sales by changing the word — a challenge which Panton met.

Controversy has arisen, however, over two changes to the law. Efforts by the minister to reduce the use of spear guns were thwarted by a back-bench rebellion on the importation of parts for existing spear gun licence holders. This, however, will not only delay the eventual ban on spear guns in local waters, it will also clash with the customs law, which prevents the importation of spear gun parts, even by Caymanian license holders.

The removal of the clause that required someone caught in a marine park with conch and lobster to explain where they got them will continue to tie the hands of enforcement officers as they will still not be able to arrest people unless they catch them in the water with the catch in their hands. This is now at odds with a major concern raised by the public, not just during the recent round of public meetings but for years, that enforcement officers need to catch poachers.

However, regardless of the two issues which may cause problems down the line, Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie, who has been pressing for the law almost as long as she has been working for the department, was pleased that the legislation was now passed. The minister too expressed his delight at the support he was able to gain from the House.

See all of the amendments below, along with thedraft legislation for ease of reference.

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  1. noname says:

    Kinda like the traffic laws are inforced?  CIG will do the same old soon come some day thing.

  2. Vinyard Whines says:

    Oh nooooo! This country is surely ruined now.

    Note to self. Remember to wear bright orange “angry trousers” in protest!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate DOE's attempt at transparency here.  Most people won't bother to read the NCL or the amendments, but I did.  I have to say, it was a challenge at times to match up the DOE's summary of amendments with the clauses in my recent copy of the NCL from Nov 12, 2013.  It begs the question, was there another subsequent version of the NCL published that was not circulated publicly?  Take a look for yourselves.

    Most of the guts of the amendments appear to either stiffle public participation/notice of meetings and/or increase Cabinet control of the Environmental Conservation Council – which has now grown to 14 members with meaningless District participation requirement, and who's Chairperson is cherry-picked by Cabinet.  

    Pity this autocratic thinking is still what it takes to get unanimous support in the house these days.  The Council will have even less authority than it originally imagined.  Disappointed, but not surprised. 

  4. anonymous says:

    Still waiting to see the Regulations and the maps….should still continue to be interesting.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It may come into force next month but knowing CIG it won't be enforced until January 2020!