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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. 

Caribbean News

ScotiaBank Turks & Caicos Awarded Best Consumer Digital Bank 2021

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Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Island – September 24, 2021 – Scotiabank TCI has been named the “Best Consumer Digital Bank 2021” by Global Finance (New York), which regularly selects the top performers amongst banks and financial services and is a trusted standard of excellence for the global financial community.

In commenting on the award, Patricia Adams, Managing Director (Acting), Scotiabank TCI said, “Supporting our customers during the ongoing uncertainties remains our top priority and we are thrilled that our significant focus and investments in our digital banking platforms continue to yield positive results.”

“During this period, we have continuously relied on feedback from our customers about their specific personal or business needs and we remain committed to further improvements as we aim to make it easier and safer for them to conduct their banking” Adams concluded.

Some of the most recent investments include the expansion of the capabilities of the Scotiabank Mobile App, upgrades made to the Bank’s ABM network to include intelligent deposit machines and the use of digital analytics to anticipate customer needs and deliver personalized financial solutions.

Winning banks were selected based on the following criteria: strength of strategy  for attracting and servicing digital customers, success in getting clients to use digital  offerings, growth of digital customers, breadth of product offerings, evidence of tangible benefits gained from digital initiatives, and web/mobile site design and functionality. Read more about the awards here.

Scotiabank TCI’s award for “Best Consumer Digital Bank” follows another recent global recognition for innovation in financial services by The Banker’s Global Innovation in Digital Banking Awards 2021. The ‘Most Innovative in Data’ award acknowledges the Bank’s investments in data and analytics, as well as its commitment to delivering a more personalized customer experience.

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Bahamas News

Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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