#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.
Medical Council of Jamaica Announces more CME hours for Doctors
KINGSTON, September 19, 2023 (JIS) – Medical doctors will be required to complete two additional hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) specifically dedicated to mental health and wellness in order to renew their practising certificates come January 2024.
The Medical Council of Jamaica (MCJ) noted that this critical update forms part of its commitment to advancing the healthcare system and ensuring doctors are well-equipped to meet the prevailing mental health demands.
“This increase moves the total required CME hours from 20 to 22, enhancing doctors’ ability to address the mental health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The decision to introduce these additional CME hours is driven by the Medical Council of Jamaica’s commitment to prioritise the well-being of both patients and healthcare professionals,” the MCJ stated.
The Council reasoned that COVID-19 has highlighted the pressing need for mental health support, with healthcare workers facing unprecedented challenges, experiencing increased stress and witnessing the emotional toll the pandemic has taken on patients.
To support doctors in meeting the new CME requirement, MCJ Registrar, Professor Howard Spencer, shared that the Council will provide access to a range of accredited providers and resources offering relevant mental health and wellness courses.
“The Medical Council of Jamaica encourages all doctors to proactively engage in these additional CME hours well in advance of the renewal deadline in early 2024, to ensure a seamless continuation of their practice,” he emphasised.
The Council added that the focus on mental health and wellness will empower doctors with the knowledge and skills to provide comprehensive and compassionate care to patients experiencing challenges in this area.
Commenting on the new requirement, Consultant Psychiatrist and Public Health Specialist, Dr. Earl Wright, underscored that the additional CME hours are a win-win for doctors.
“It’s not only enhancing the doctors’ care of the patient but doctors need to take care of themselves also. This will help to prevent doctor burnout. Doctors are sometimes under severe stress for long periods of time. So enhancing the doctors’ ability to take care of themselves, they’re also enhancing their ability to take care of all their patients,” he remarked.
For more information about the new CME requirement, visit www.jamaicamedicalcouncil.org.
Prime Minister Holness opens Maypen to Williamsfield Leg of Southern Coastal Highway
#Kingston, September 19, 2023 – The May Pen to Williamsfield leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) was officially opened by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Thursday (September 14).
The thoroughfare, which represents part A of the SCHIP, now significantly reduced travel time between the parishes of Clarendon and Manchester and will offer a multitude of economic and social benefits to users.
Speaking during the segment’s opening ceremony, Prime Minister Holness hailed the development as “a step in improving the general quality of life for all Jamaicans”.
“[It is] a step in improving the productivity of all Jamaicans. You can easily measure the productivity gained of this road by the productivity lost in traffic, discomfort and the aggression it creates in driving on some of the other bad roads,” he said.
Mr. Holness noted that some of the anticipated benefits of the new roadway include connecting workers to jobs, improving the response time of the security forces, and improving and lowering the cost for delivering agricultural outputs to market.
“In so many ways, building your infrastructure improves well-being,” he emphasised.
The Prime Minister also announced that the highway’s usage will be at no cost to motorists until the end of the calendar year, on December 31, 2023. After this period, toll rates will be applied.
Mr. Holness further pointed out that the scope of work for the highway included a new four-lane bridge across the Rio Minho to increase the area’s resilience to weather events.
The project also features a two-year defects liability phase, the Prime Minister said, while noting that, “during this phase, the contractor will have to fix any project-related defects”.
It was implemented by the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC), under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
For his part, NROCC Managing Director, Stephen Edwards, described the highway’s opening as “a momentous occasion in infrastructure development in Jamaica”.
Dubbing the project as a “giant leap forward for the parishes of Clarendon and Manchester and for all Jamaicans”, Mr. Edwards informed that the contract’s implementation commenced in 2019.
He detailed that the development features a 23-kilometre four-lane highway with adiamond interchange and Florida-T at May Pen, a separated interchange at Toll Gate, an interchange at Melrose, four bridges, 17 concrete box crossings, upgrading of approximately five kilometres of roadway along the Melrose Bypass to a four-lane dual carriageway, a police post at Toll Gate, safety fences, concrete median barriers, and the installation and expansion of fibre optics.
“We believe… we have delivered a modern highway that the people of Jamaica can be proud of,” Mr. Edwards added.
Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in his remarks, said the highway’s opening is “a pivotal junction in our nation’s transportation history”.
“This remarkable highway will undoubtedly reshape this side of the island and its network and elevate collective journeys towards progress. This occasion is also a testament to the dedication in providing safer roads and enhanced connectivity for all Jamaicans,” Mr. Vaz stated.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Everald Warmington, also spoke highly of the road development.
He expressed that the new leg of the country’s highway network represents “more than just concrete, steel and asphalt”.
“It signifies development, connectivity, and the promise of a brighter future for all those who traverse the south coast of this country,” Mr. Warmington said.
He added that a well-planned, efficient transportation network is the backbone of any thriving nation, as it connects people, fosters economic growth and enhances the quality of life for citizens.
Multi Pronged Approach in St. Ann to Tackle Dengue
Montego Bay September 19 (JIS) – The St. Ann Health Department has adopted a multipronged approach in the fight against dengue fever as the parish reports an increase in suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease.
Addressing the monthly meeting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation on September 14, Medical Officer of Health for St. Ann, Dr. Tamika Henry, said although the country is not currently in outbreak mode, the parish is on high alert due to the endemic nature of dengue in Jamaica.
She explained that the multipronged strategy includes surveillance, case management, health education, human resource reinforcement, larvicidal and adulticidal activities, source reduction, external stakeholder engagement, and continuous monitoring and evaluation.
Active and passive surveillance methods are being employed to detect suspected cases early. This involves healthcare personnel actively searching for symptoms at hospitals and health centres, ensuring prompt intervention when necessary.
“We have a nurse that is stationed at the hospital; she’s our hospital active surveillance nurse. She goes from ward to ward, as well as in the outpatient department, accident and emergency, looking to see if there’s anybody who matches the case definition for dengue because, of course, we want to pick up things very early,” Dr. Henry said.
She noted that the health department has bolstered its human resources, employing 26 permanent vector control workers across its five health districts.
To manage the situation effectively, high-risk communities have been identified and targeted for intervention by workers, including larvicidal activities aimed at mosquito breeding sites.
Dr. Henry outlined that health education and promotion efforts are widespread, involving various public health nurses, public health inspectors and community health aides.
“We have public health nurses going out. Public health inspectors are in their zonal areas on a day-to-day basis; they, too, do health education. We have our Community Health Aides, who have been doing house-to-house visits, reminding persons about searching and destroying,” she said.
Dr. Henry noted that the Ministry of Education and Youth is also engaged, with dengue lesson plans being implemented in schools.
“One of our age groups of concern is five to 14. So, we engage with them [Ministry] and they have again rolled out their dengue lesson plan in the schools, and the children are doing their search-and-destroy activity during their activity session,” she added.
Since the start of 2023, St. Ann has received 17 notifications of suspected dengue cases. One case has been confirmed that involves a 13-year-old male who presented with fever, headache, eye pain, and nausea.
Dr. Henry disclosed that nearly half of these cases, approximately 48 per cent, match the case definition for dengue, a significant increase compared to 2022.
In 2022, the parish had 10 reported cases with only one being confirmed as dengue fever.
“More males are being reported than females in 2023, and we recognise that there are two particular age groups of concern – 5 to 14 age group, that is our primary school going up to our high school, as well as our 24 to 44 age group,” Dr. Henry shared.
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