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Guests are welcomed, but respect TCI Marine life or face fines says DECR

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#TurksandCaicos, April 5, 2021 – The DECR is hoping a recent appeal will work to reduce the non-natural interactions between some guests on marine excursions and the country’s marine inhabitants.  In a warning notice, the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources takes a firm stance in protection of animals and their habitats.

“The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) are aware of a number of instances where watersports operators have allowed their guests to interact with marine life (in particular marine mammals) in an inappropriate manner.

The Department takes this opportunity to remind all vendors on the water that the Fisheries Protection Ordinance 10.08, and its Regulations, National Parks Ordinance 10.01, and its Regulations, govern all Waters and National Parks in the Turks & Caicos Islands.”

Conservation laws make it illegal for people to feed marine animals or aim to attract them with the enticement of food tossed into the ocean.  When it comes to marine mammals the law is also outlined in the notice:  ‘No personal shall engage in fishing for, molest or otherwise interfere with any marine mammal. Similarly, the following activities are prohibited within all national parks, nature reserves and sanctuaries, and will not be tolerated.’

The activities to which the Department refers are these:

  • The taking of any animal or plant by any method on land or at sea except to the extent permitted in any fishing zone;
  • The destruction of, or damage or injury to, any animal or plant;
  • The removal of sand, rock, coral, coral-rag or any calcareous substance;
  • Anchor damage to coral reef structures living or dead and associated marine plant and animal life.

Breaking this law is not only frowned upon from an environmental perspective but heavily penalized under Turks and Caicos law. 

“As per the regulations, any person who contravenes any provision of these regulations commits and offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of $50, 000 or to a term of imprisonment of twelve months or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

The message is clearly a clarion call for preservation to be paramount and one for a stronger commitment by those who earn a living on the waters to keep TCI’s part of the Atlantic Ocean free of violation or intrusion; the message is to be picked up boat excursion operators.

“We recommend that, for the safety of the wildlife as well as your guests, the promotion of such activities be amended forthwith to align with the legal requirements as set out above.”

Added to the notice were the rules for Whale Watching and Dolphin Spotting.

  • Just FLOAT! When you are near marine mammals the best is to just float. They will come near you if they want to. Show respect by just floating.
  • Do not splash with your arms or legs excessively.
  • Do not try to touch them, under any circumstances. Dolphins, in particular, are very loving and affectionate with each other but that doesn’t mean they want to be touched by a human, any human. No matter how much love you have for them, it is disrespectful to touch them. 
  • Do not free dive into their space: this is for your safety and theirs.
  • Do not dive down towards a resting group of marine mammals. If you dive down towards them and they haven’t noticed you, while resting, they will wake up and get startled. They need to sleep to function right, please don’t dive down towards them.
  • Do not to feed them. Apart from being illegal (Fisheries Protection Ordinance Reg 9(1)(g), this is very dangerous.
  • Do not begin interaction or play games with dolphins. Wild dolphins like to play games with each other. Dolphins do not initiate this game with a human, it is the humans who start the interaction. Let’s be observers and be content with it. 
  • Stay away from pregnant female marine mammals. If there are any pregnant females, there will also be a courageous alpha protector / escort watching nearby and they can get aggressive if they think that there is any threat to those pregnant moms.
  • If a marine mammal charges at you (just like bull would) get out of the water immediately. You have done something that has made the individual aggressive.
  • Do not litter. This means that if you dropped anything (hair tie, snorkel, fins, etc ) you must retrieve it from the bottom and if you can’t reach the bottom you must find someone that can. Protecting their habitat is also protecting the marine life.
  • If you ever see anyone doing anything that could hurt marine mammals, anything on this short list, please speak up and educate the offenders. Take the time to explain to them in a nice way, and why they should change their behavior. 

Bahamas News

Brave presentation in defence of Bahamas’ financial services reputation by PM Davis

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, October 1, 2022 – Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis is again calling for equality in the financial services sector and for the United Nations to leverage its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global anti-money laundering de-risking and tax cooperation matters.

In addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, September 24, Prime Minister Davis said the Bahamas is one of the best-regulated countries in the world, yet it has been under attack by international bodies and placed on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) blacklist while transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

He questioned why this was the case and highlighted some disparities in the financial sector.

“Why is it that European states that operate frameworks akin to that of high-risk or blacklisted countries, are not even eligible for inclusion on these lists? Why are all the countries targeted – all of them – small and vulnerable, and former colonies of European states? We find it astounding that the $2-$3 trillion dollars which is estimated to be laundered each year through the developed countries, are never flagged as causes for concern,” articulated Phillip Davis, addressing the 77th session in New York.

Prime Minister Davis further noted that there are elements of racism in the decision-making when it comes to regulating black-governed countries in the financial services sector. He also declared that black-governed countries matter as well.

And yet my country, which is widely recognized as one of the best-regulated countries in the world, and other countries like The Bahamas, are singled-out for such reputational attacks? The robust regulatory regimes of our Central Bank, Securities Commission, and Insurance Commission, are chastised on minor details of technical process, while much bigger transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

The evidence is mounting, that the considerations behind these decisions have less to do with compliance, and more to do with darker issues of pre-judged, discriminatory perceptions. Black-governed countries also matter.”

 Davis also highlighted the need for reforms that apply to all in the global financial system.

“Mr. President: We support the call for reforms in the global financial system to make it more relevant to the needs of today. But those reforms need ambition. They need to go beyond the incremental. And they need to apply to all. For example, the community of international financial institutions are in a position to forgive the debt incurred by the economic shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. They should do so.”

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Caribbean News

Hurricane Ian impact on Cayman Islands

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, October 1, 2022 – The Cayman Islands experienced fierce winds and high seas from Hurricane Ian on Monday, as the storm passed offshore, causing little lasting damage.

Some areas on the island experienced flooding as low-lying condo complexes and some residential back roads were inundated with water. Almost 4,000 homes were without power on Monday; however, most had electricity restored by the evening.

There were also no reports of any injuries, deaths, or serious structural damage.  The country started its restoration process on Monday afternoon, clearing debris from the roads, surveying the damage and providing support to residents where needed.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Premier of the Cayman Islands Wayne Panton said he was pleased with how residents handled the situation.

“While we have been very fortunate to have been spared the worst of a potentially very serious storm, I’m extremely pleased to have seen the efforts made by the Caymanian public to prepare for ‘the worst, while praying for the best. In this situation, this is simply the safest, most strategic thing to do,” the Premier said

Despite the all-clear being issued on Monday evening, the Ministry of Education announced that government schools will remain closed to students until Wednesday, 28 September.

Meanwhile, in Cuba, authorities have declared emergencies in six areas, with forecasters warning of storm surges on the coast along with flash floods and mudslides.

Tens of thousands of people were told to leave their homes and seek shelter. Cuba could see up to 12 inches of rain from Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian dramatically intensified and is blamed for at least two dozen deaths in Florida; where the storm struck with near category five force winds and a near 20 foot storm surge.

Over 700 rescue operations were activated in Florida in the aftermath of the storm, which is still wreaking havoc in the U.S.

 

Cayman photo credit:  RC Cord

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Caribbean News

Soca Boss honoured as Trinidad & Tobago marks 50 Years

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad&Tobago, October 1, 2022 – Machel Montano, the Soca Boss, was on Saturday, September 24, awarded the Hummingbird Gold National Award as Trinidad and Tobago celebrated its 46th anniversary of becoming a republic.

The Hummingbird medal is awarded for loyal and devoted service beneficial to the state in any field or acts of conspicuous gallantry or other outstanding humane action.

Montano, who is celebrating 40 years in soca music, expressed his gratitude for the award in a statement on his social media pages.

The Soca Monarch expressed gratitude to his family, who he said have always supported him throughout his journey.

“I am humbled and wish to dedicate this honor to my family, my parents, Elizabeth and Winston Montano, who set me on this path and without whom I would not stand proud here in this moment. Their love, guidance and support throughout the years have absolutely been my foundation,” Montano said.

Adding that: “My brother Marcus for igniting my musical spark and always being there up to this day, someone I can call on anytime for any task. My wife, my children, in-laws, sister-in-law, nieces, aunts, cousins and loved ones who have all steered and cheered me on.”

He also expressed heartfelt gratitude to his musical family, friends and fans.

“Over my 40-year journey in music my family has grown into a Famalay…sprawling all over the globe, all my musical friends; writers, producers, musicians, managers, dancers, collaborators, creators, techs, teachers, assistants, dedicated staff, friends and FANS 🙌… everyone who has ever contributed to anything I’ve done, it’s always been fun and I thank you all,” he said.

Montano said he hopes his award will inspire other entertainers and encourage them to keep working hard and aspiring.

Congratulations to the Soca Monarch and Boss on this major milestone.

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