Turks and Caicos, March 28, 2017 – Providenciales – The Sandals Foundation has partnered with local environmental advocacy group, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF) to install several new permanent Mooring Buoys at the Princess Alexandra National Park along the Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos (TCI) and the foundation has given a two year commitment to ensure maintenance of the project.
The Sandals Foundation which is the philanthropic arm of the Beaches Resorts in the TCI is investing over USD $10,000 to fund the installation of six new permanent Mooring Buoys for the public to use for dive and snorkel recreational watercrafts. Through the partnership the Sandals Foundation will cover the cost of materials such as rock pins, sand anchors, all hardware, lines, buoys and installation as well as two years of maintenance.
Heidi Clarke, Director of Programme for the Sandals Foundation said that the charitable organization is committed to helping preserve and protect the biodiversity of the marine environment in the Turks & Caicos. “We recognize the beauty and value of our Coral Reef Systems and Sea Grass Beds in the Turks & Caicos and the Caribbean,” she said. “They not only attract visitors to this region, but most importantly they provide habitats for sea life including juvenile fish which impacts fish populations and in turn the livelihoods of thousands of Caribbean Nationals that depend on the fishing industry.”
Clarke explained that the Sandals Foundation chose to work with the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund because of their stellar track record and their extensive knowledge and experience in the TCI with installing mooring buoys. “We are proud to partner with an organization like the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund who recognizes the value of our precious marine environment and has been working for years to preserve it,” Clarke said.
Over the past five years TCRF has installed over 100 permanent mooring buoys throughout Turks and Caicos in locations marine traffic are the heaviest, in an effort to prevent boats from putting down anchors which can disturb sea beds and destroy coral reefs.
Don Stark, Chairman of the TCRF said that addition of six moorings in the National Marine Parks will further eliminate the need for anchoring which can be very destructive to the coral reefs. “ When we started this effort our goal was to provide enough permanent moorings so that no dive boat or snorkel boat or even yachts would ever have to drop anchor on any of the reefs around the Turks & Caicos.” Said Stark, “ We are getting close to that goal and with the support of the Sandals Foundation, we are one step closer to achieving the goal.”
With its turquoise waters, Turks & Caicos is home of the third-largest barrier reef in the world. And with more than a million travelers venturing to the island each year to explore the wonders of the marine world, the Sandals Foundation and the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund are committed to protecting its underwater paradise and the rehabilitation, enhancement and maintenance of the moorings will only reap benefit for the island’s delicate eco-system while protecting for future use. “We look forward to working with the TCRF on future projects as we continue to play our part in protecting our environment,” Clarke concluded.
Building community, economic, and environmental resilience through the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Covid-19 recovery
TCI community survey released as part of a new project launching
#TurksandCaicos, January 25, 2023 – The social, economic, and environmental impact of Covid-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is the focus of a community survey being officially launched today as part of a new European Union funded project: Resilient Community Recovery from Covid-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The TCI Government Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) are working together with key project partners, including the TCI Fishing Co-operative, TCI National Trust, and Invest Turks and Caicos, to identify sustainable livelihood ventures that simultaneously improve the natural environment and provide opportunities for the people of TCI to establish new skills and job opportunities.
This project has been funded through a €939,422 grant from The Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme (RESEMBID), a €40M programme financed by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, the development cooperation agency of France.
The community survey released today will help to inform the development of training programmes to reach at least 150 community members across the islands through a locally led Community Hub established by the project.
The experiences of businesses in TCI will also be collected in a separate survey to understand how different sectors have been affected by the pandemic and to collect ideas for building a more resilient economy. This survey will inform the development of a Natural Capital Investment Plan to signpost opportunities for sustainable investment in TCI.
According to visa service provider Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), TCI experienced a US$452 million loss from tourism revenue during the pandemic, reducing the economy by 23%. Reductions in tourist activity at the start of the pandemic and measures such as social distancing impacted job opportunities in the tourism sector and industries that depend on tourists, including local fisheries that rely on the demand from hotels and restaurants.
Whilst tourism has resumed in 2022, TCI continues to be affected by Covid-19. The tourism and fishing industries are still some of the most vulnerable to future hazards. This project will identify training opportunities to diversify the economy in both new and existing sectors, to help TCI build back from the pandemic in an environmentally conscious and resilient way.
“The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources’ remit has expanded with the responsibility of Climate Change; and the environmental and climate pressures following the Covid-19 Pandemic have shown considerable impact in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The RESEMBID Resilient Community Recovery from Covid-19 in the Turks and Caicos Islands project is supporting needs for skills training and development within and beyond the Department, to help us recover more sustainably and responsibly from the Pandemic. We look forward to the positive effects and impacts the project will have on those affected by the Pandemic.”
TCI Fishing Cooperative Chair Pastor Oscar Talbot, said:
“We are grateful to be a part of this project, as it highlights the importance of sustaining livelihoods post Covid-19 and beyond of the most vulnerable.”
“JNCC is delighted to support this project with our partners in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This project will assess the impact of Covid-19 to build the resilience of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ communities, economy and environment against future disruption. Crucially, local communities and businesses are invited to share their experiences of the pandemic through surveys launched today to shape their islands’ recovery. We look forward to supporting TCI’s communities in creating novel opportunities for sustainable livelihoods through this work.”
This project provides the people of TCI with a unique opportunity to shape the islands’ economic and environmental recovery from Covid-19 to create a more secure and sustainable future. To find out more or to complete the surveys, please visit the project webpage http://www.jncc.gov.uk/community-resilience-tc or contact TCIcommunity@jncc.gov.uk for more information.
US Coast Guard rescues 55 migrants near Puerto Rico; activity in Mona Passage high
By Sherrica Thompson
#USA, January 25, 2023 – The US Coast Guard is again warning migrants against illegal voyages by sea as 55 migrants were rescued on Thursday, January 19, after being abandoned and stranded by smugglers on an uninhabited natural reserve of Monito Island in Puerto Rico.
US Coast Guard said the survivors consisted of forty-five (45) men and nine (9) women claiming Haitian nationality, and one man who claimed to be a Cuban national. All 55 migrants were transferred to Ramey Sector Border Patrol Agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
The rescue involved efforts and coordination with Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) partner agencies.
According to the US Coast Guard, watch standers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, received a communication from the aircrew of a Coast Guard HC-144 aircraft during a maritime patrol in the Mona Passage Monday night of a group of people stranded on the rocky cliffs of Monito Island located just off Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
“Heavy sea-state conditions of six-to-eight-foot seas and the difficulty of accessing the ocean cliffs prevented rescue efforts from taking place until Thursday morning. Once sea-state and wind conditions improved, the cutter Heriberto Hernandez’s Over the Horizon boat safely approached Monito Island,” the agency explained in a press release.
“The Coast Guard crew provided lifejackets to the group before each migrant took their turns jumping into the water while holding onto a heaving line that was used by the crew to recover them from the water.”
Commander of Coast Guard Sector for San Juan, Captain José E. Díaz, while commenting on the danger of these voyages, urged those thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage not to do so by sea.
“The dangers of illegal voyages in the Mona Passage are exponentially increased when smugglers leave their passengers abandoned for days in austere and dangerous environments like Monito Island,” Díaz said.
Adding that: “Most do not realize the danger they are in until it is too late, as these voyages often take place aboard makeshift and grossly overloaded vessels with no lifesaving equipment. If you are thinking of taking part in an illegal voyage across the Mona Passage, do not take to the sea! It may save your life or the life of your loved ones!”
Since October 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022, the Coast Guard has carried out 14 interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico of illegal voyagers.
The US Coast Guard noted that 419 non-U.S. citizens, including 327 Dominicans, 91 Haitians and one unknown nationality, were interdicted during this period.
Bahamas takes in 396 Haitian migrants; shocking interception
By Sherrica Thompson
#TheBahamas, January 25, 2023 – In what is being described by Bahamian officials as one of the largest human smuggling incidents in the region, 394 Haitian migrants were intercepted by the United States Coast Guard near Cay Sal Island on Saturday, January 21.
According to immigration officials in The Bahamas, the migrants will be processed on the island of Inagua and later repatriated.
US Coast Guard spokeswoman Nicole Groll described the condition of the intercepted boat to the Associated Press on Monday. She said, “it was grossly overloaded and very much unsafe.”
The officials did not provide any further information on the matter.
The recent apprehension brings the total number of Haitian migrants intercepted in Bahamian waters since the start of the year to just over five hundred (500) persons.
Due to the worsening humanitarian, a surge in gang violence and deepening political instability in Haiti, thousands of Haitians are fleeing their country in search of a better life for themselves and family.
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