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TCI National Physical Development Plan closer to implementation says Deputy Premier

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – December 23, 2020 – It has been 33 years since the last National Physical Development Plan was produced and presented to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, informed  Sean Astwood, TCI Deputy Premier and Minister of Infrastructure in the House of Assembly on December 21.

The final report is now received.

“Mr. Speaker, The NPDP final Draft report was submitted to the Department of Planning on November 30, 2020,” said the Minister in his ministerial report in parliament.

An outline of the objectives was a punctuating part of the presentation, which also gave the chronology of physical development plans for Turks and Caicos.  The new plan, which government initially received in the latter part of 2019 will, according to Astwood, “promote and encourage sustained physical, economic and social development while at the same time protecting and enhancing the natural environment which forms the basis for sustaining local livelihood in the islands and attracting foreign investment.”

Other objectives include:

• To secure that physical development occurs in a sustainable manner that protects the environment and ensuring an equitable share of natural resources are protected for future generations.

• To strengthen inter-sector co-ordination of the country’s overall development within a spatial framework and ensuring a balanced mix of land uses, as well as the use of natural resources in an environmentally responsible manner.

• To encourage a more balance development among the islands and bring about a more equitable distribution of the benefits from development.

The guide to growth, development and preservation also haves five key themes, said the Minister.

“Now more than ever, the Turks and Caicos Islands needs an updated, forward-thinking, culturally focused National Plan … A series of recommendations and strategies are included in the plan. They focus on five key themes: (1) Equity: Empowering ALL People of the Turks and Caicos; (2) Resilience, Sustainability, and Multifunctionality: Promoting Economic and Environmental Diversity; (3) Island linkage: Creating Physical, Psychological and Emotional connections across the entire Country; (4) Nature as Beauty: Protecting the Environmental Jewel; and (5) TCI Culture: Preserving the Heritage and Authenticity of TCI.”

A series of rounds of town meetings were held related to the National Physical Development Plan and its ten-year outlook; the Minister told the House of Assembly, the next step is to implement the strategies towards a brighter future that will ensure the Country’s prosperity for many years.”

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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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