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Whale Watching Code of Ethics

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#TurksandCaicosIslands, January 29, 2021 – A population of humpback whales migrates from the cold waters of Iceland and Southern Greenland to the Silver Banks and potentially the Turks Bank, where they mate and give birth each winter. During this period and after giving birth, the whales travel around on the Turks, Caicos and Muchoir Banks. The presence of aggregations of humpback whales close to the Turks and Caicos Islands has given rise to opportunities for whale watching.

The advantages of whale watching are wide: it provides an opportunity to teach people to appreciate and understand the value of whales and other cetaceans; it fosters research; it contributes to the conservation of the animals; and helps ensure the economic security of local communities which serve as protectors of marine habitat. It is estimated that from December to April, during the whale migration, Salt Cay and Grand Turk receive 75% of their tourists and operators earn up 70% of their annual income. If conducted appropriately and ethically, whale watching excursions can provide sustainable livelihoods for water sports small business owners throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands.

With increased tourism pressures on whale populations, guidelines governing human/whale interaction are critical in order to protect both human and whale interests. 

In view of the above, the DECR would like to encourage charter and water sports operators, tourism enterprises and the general public to comply with the following voluntary code of ethics for whale watching: 

  1. No more than 20 persons will be on board a whale-watching vessel at any time. (SUBJECT TO COVID 19 PUBLIC HEALTH REGULATIONS)
  2. When a whale is spotted, the vessel’s engines shall be placed in neutral or shall be allowed to idle for a short period before turning it off. 
  3. Noise levels are to be kept to a minimum. No horns, whistles or racing of motors will be permitted.
  4. Passengers are to be instructed to remain calm and quiet. 
  5. Boats should not approach within 50 metres of a whale. This also applies to swimmers in the water. All interaction must be due to whale initiation. Under no circumstances, should boats or swimmers chase after a whale that has indicated it is not interested in interaction.
  6. Do not allow your vessel to cause the whale to change direction or course. Disturbance can drive whales away from critical habitats. 
  7. Never allow a boat or a swimmer to come between a mother and calf. Disruption of parental care may reduce a calf’s chance of survival and may incite aggression by the mother. 
  8. Snorkelers should not engage in free diving near whales, as this can be perceived as aggressive by whales. 
  9. Vessels should approach whales from a direction parallel and slightly to the rear or position the vessel at least 300 metres ahead of the whale and allow it to approach you. Never approach a whale head-on or directly from the rear.
  10. Within 300 metres of a whale, move at a constant slow speed, no faster than the slowest whale or at idle, no-wake speed. 
  11. Avoid sudden or repeated changes in speed or direction. Changes in speed or direction may alary whales. If you need to constantly change direction, they are trying to avoid you. Leave them alone.
  12. Never approach whales closer than 50 metres. If whales approach within 50 metres of the vessel, slowly steer away or place the engines in neutral and let the whales come to you. Do not engage the prop within 100 metres and do not chase the whales when they leave.
  13. Never box in whales, cut off their path and/or prevent them from leaving, particularly when more than one vessel is present. 
  14. Do not attempt to approach mothers with young calves. A whale with a young calf may protect her calf aggressively if she feels threatened.
  15. When leaving, move off slowly at idle, no-wake speed until at least 300 metres from the closest whale before picking up speed. 
  16. No more than three vessels should attempt to watch a whale or group of whales at one time. If several boats are in the area, limit your time to ensure that others get an opportunity to see the whales.
  17. When approaching an area where other vessels are whale watching, establish contact by VHF radio and ensure that all operators are aware of whale watching guidelines. 
  18. Vessels not complying with this code of ethics should be reported to DECR at 338-4170. 

Bahamas News

PM Davis’ Remarks at Wreath Laying Ceremony – Majority Rule Day 2022

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Happy Majority Rule Day to all and thank you for coming

I thank the organizers of this wreath laying ceremony because this auspicious occasion is a symbolic reminder of the significant role the Progressive Liberal Party and the Father of the Nation played in bringing about one of the most consequential and transformational events in our history, eclipsed only by the abolition of slavery in 1834.

With the addition of National Independence on 10th July 1973, these three epic events changed the course of Bahamian history forever and etched in the annals of history the Bahamian national identity and the depth of our indomitable spirit.

We must never grow weary of telling our story lest we lose our identity and heritage as a people.

Further — and more nationally — as a free, modern, democratic and independent state, history must record that Majority Rule Day is also an occasion where all Bahamians come together to reflect on and celebrate the enduring principles of democracy.  Today then, I stand with my Bahamian brothers and sisters from all walks of life in memorializing this day as a seminal moment in the ever-evolving Bahamian story.

MAJORITY RULE IS A MAJOR TRIUMPH FOR DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM, HUMANITARIAN PRINCIPLES THAT WE HOLD NEAR AND DEAR TO OUR HEARTS.  THESE PRINCIPLES ARE ALSO THE CHIEF PHILOSOPHICAL CORNER STONES AND PILLARS ON WHICH THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT AND WILL SUSTAIN US FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

We must never allow our detractors to minimize, trivialize or relegate this great day and event to the scrap heap of historical irrelevance. To do so is to dishonour the vision, memory and legacy of those great courageous souls on whose shoulders we stand.

We cannot and must not conveniently disinherit our glorious legacy because our truth is inconvenient to some.

A cause rooted in social justice, freedom fighters courageously stood in the vanguard of change – unyielding in their demand that all were created equal — with God-given rights to human dignity without regard to race, gender, colour or creed. This stand of conscience galvanized a nation, a generation of Bahamians, and in the process significantly reshaped the character and national identity of The Bahamas forever.

I pay tribute to the many unsung heroes and heroines whose endearing and enduring legacies of selflessness and shared sacrifices remain the gold standard of our national culture in both public life and in the way we conduct our personal affairs with one another.

I continue to draw, conviction, inspiration and influence from the passion of the Suffragettes, the labour movement, the church and from countless Bahamians who put it all on the line to secure a more perfect Commonwealth.

Speaking of passion, conviction, inspiration and influence, I wish to take a moment to recount the role the late Sir Sidney Poitier played and the contributions he made during our journey to Majority Rule.

As a Bahamian with dual citizenship, Sir Sidney used his celebrity status in the struggle for civil rights —  fighting racism, bigotry and injustice in both the United States and The Bahamas.

Many Bahamians still recall his speaking to the issue at a reception in his honour to the then United Bahamian Party (UBP) government in recognition of his Academy Award for ‘Lilies of the Field.’

A well-known story in PLP circles is his assistance to the Progressive Liberal Party in the run up to the 1967 general elections. There is an iconic photo of Sir Sidney and Sir Lynden at the back of an open limousine celebrating the 1967 victory.

May he rest in peace.

As a beneficiary of their sacrificial work, I thank them all — Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Milo Butler, Sir Randal Fawkes, Sir Clifford Darling, Dame Doris Johnson and Sir Sidney Poitier — for their passion, faith, perseverance and uncompromising commitment to social justice, democracy, freedom and a sense of fair play.

It is indeed an honour and a privilege to stand on their broad proverbial shoulders to continue their invaluable work in building a stronger and more perfect Commonwealth to positively impact the lives of generations yet unborn.

Our cause is indeed national, inclusive and intergenerational in its nature, range and scope.

On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, my cabinet and parliamentary colleagues, my government, the officers and members of the Progressive Liberal Party, I extend best wishes and highest regards to the people of The Bahamas as we celebrate Fifty-Five years of Majority Rule.

May Almighty God continue to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

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Fulford says TCI’s Judiciary will be Established as a Regional Leader under CJ Agyeman

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#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – The Legal Year 2022 opened on January 4th 2022 in a hybrid fashion, where the Chief Justice, Court of Appeal Judges, Supreme Court Judges, Magistrates and other Official participants hosted the ceremony at the Supreme Court building in person and where Attorneys and other dignitaries attended remotely via zoom link.

The ceremony today marked a welcomed improvement from last year, where covid19 numbers caused the 2021 opening ceremony to be in a strictly virtual fashion for all attendees.

This year’s ceremony saw a cadre of achievements listed by the Chief Justice in her short tenure such as:

  1. New Legal Aid Rules
  2. Establishment of a new Legal Aid Panel
  3. Establishment of a Legal Aid Roster for Civil and Criminal Matters
  4. Implementation of an 18 Month end date for Legal Aid Matters
  5. Establishment of a complaint mechanism for grievances against attorneys
  6. Establishment of Interim Payments
  7. Establishment of Legal Aid for Civil Cases
  8. Waiver of Supreme Court Fees for Civil Cases conducted under legal aid
  9. Establishment of Early Legal Aid from the investigative process.
  10. Establishment of Duty Counsels – where Legal Aid will allow those arrested on suspicion of crimes to have an attorney before charge;
  11. Legal Aid will extend to constitutional rights, habeus corpus, judicial review, domestic violence, contentions probate matters, welfare of Children matters, landlord dispute matters;
  12. Court Connected Mediation Rules
  13. Court to now promote ADR
  14. Establishment of Court mandated Alternative Dispute Resolution
  15. Creation of a Mediation Committee
  16. 42 Mediators are Trained
  17. Creation of a Roster of Mediators -11 are presently on the Roster
  18. Consultation has begun on restorative justice to pay reparation for Offences to promote reconciliation
  19. Establishment of Queens Counsel Selection Panel
  20. Establishment of Alternative Sentencing Guidelines
  21. Establishment of the first ever Bail Ordinance
  22. Establishment of a Sentencing Deadline Committee
  23. Establishment of a Magistrate Rules Committee
  24. Establishment of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee
  25. Establishment of Hybrid Hearings to allow Jury Trials to take place.
  26. Establishment of a Court/Legal Library;
  27. Continuous population of TCILII with judgements
  28. Re-Constitution of the Judicial Education Committee JEI
  29.  JEI three workshops held for Court Staff
  30.  JEI programs to equip Court Clerks with Paralegal training
  31. JEI trained the Bailiffs on Self Defence
  32. JEI armed Bailiffs with body cameras
  33.  Establishment of Registrar of Magistrate Courts
  34. Onboarding of two Judicial Research Assistants
  35.  Establishment of Code of Conduct for the Judiciary
  36. The House of Assembly have voted to provide 3 million dollars toward a state-of-the-art court building for The Judiciary.
  37. Two Buildings have been located and will be retrofitted to be used as Magistrate Courts in South Caicos and North Caicos.

Chief Justice Agyeman laid out other initiatives of the Judiciary and other Strategic priorities are as follows for 2022:

  1. The E-Judiciary initiatives will continue, that will provide paperless access to the digital platform.
  2. A dedicated space for ADR, being a center for parties to undertake mediation
  3. Legislation to bring clarity to Judicial officers is underway.
  4. Ethics and Integrity Training for Court Staff.
  5. Extensive electronic infrastructure is being implemented to improve virtual proceedings
  6. Ongoing work addressing gaps in treatment of Mental Health Issues  and Juveniles in criminal justice
  7. A CJSG which is a collaboration of all stakeholders of justice that serves the public and is striving to provide a multi-level approach to provide access to quality criminal justice.
  8. The CJSG will also be publishing a calendar of community initiatives it will undertake to bring its work to the people they exist to serve.

Fulford views Chief Justice Mabel Agyeman in her role as Head of the Judiciary, as a Judge who sets goals and achieves them despite arduous challenges. The way in which the Chief Justice relentlessly pursues the Judiciary’s goals bodes well for the jurisdiction and no doubt her record of achievement in her short tenue will cause the TCI Judiciary to become known as a regional leader.

Fulford noted that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Judiciary continues to grow from strength to strength because of the Chief Justice’s resourcefulness, perseverance and commitment to modernization and improvement.

Chief Justice Agyeman thanked the DPP personally and his office for assisting in the many Judiciary reforms. Further thanks were given to the Attorney General and the Bar Association through its President who was on hand to give and receive the remarks.  Many thanks were Given to the Governor, Deputy Governor, Premier, Cabinet and Parliament for the support to the Judiciary.

Chief Justice Agyeman specially thanked the Acting Court Administrator Mrs Barbara Jervis, Her Registrar Ms Renee McLean and her Judicial Assistant Ms. Aisha DeFour.

In closing, The Hon. Chief Justice renewed her commitment and that of the entire Judiciary to continue to improve access to quality justice for all in TCI and to be untiring in their efforts to follow through on the plans outlined for 2022, and continue to strive to position the Judiciary to attain the stature of a resilient, and accountable institution.

Fulford indicated, it’s an opportune time to be serving the public in the legal profession.

 

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Oil fund could repair crumbling infrastructure, improve health, education systems

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By Kemol King

Guyana DPI

 

#Guyana, January 15, 2022 – Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, said the public school and healthcare systems, along with the country’s infrastructure network, could benefit from the development that will come from Guyana’s oil money.

He made the comments during a virtual interview with Globespan on Wednesday.

“Our government has been clear that… oil and gas will be used – there are some infrastructural issues.

Look at some of the infrastructure that we were left with. Look at some of the ports and the harbours, the roads, the bridges, look at them. A lot of them are dilapidated. Now, we are starting to build them.

We have health systems; we have educational systems that need help. It’s the poor people that have to go to the hospital. It’s the poor people that go to the public schools…”

He added that investments can also be made into reducing the costs of certain services like electricity, or into building the capacity of law enforcement to fight crime.

The minister said these sectors are where some of the major problems are, and act as bugbears for the country.

Already, the government has started rolling out an extensive infrastructure plan, building and repairing roads and highways across the country. The government has initiated processes for the construction of major infrastructural projects such as the Demerara River Crossing.

Investments are being made into upgrading healthcare facilities into modern sustainable providers for the poorest citizens.

In education, the government has provided 6,000 scholarships for ordinary Guyanese, and there are thousands more to come.

Minister Indar reminded that all the work government has done so far since taking up office in August 2020, have been done without using the oil money.

Some US$607 million sits in the Natural Resource Fund. The government has maintained that it would not spend a cent until a new Natural Resource Fund Act is in place. This was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in December.

The Act allows the government to withdraw the total balance of the Fund in the first year. The Ministry of Finance explained that it is important for Guyana to use its resources to fund its development agenda, instead of burdening Guyana with unsustainable debt. Even then, Minister Indar explained that the withdrawal rule moving forward will allow significant sums to be saved and be accrued, given expected ramp-ups in offshore oil production.

 

 

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