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TCI: Collaborative Shorebird Monitoring for Grand Turk and Salt Cay

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#TurksandCaicos, April 6, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos National Trust (TCNT) and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) are collaborating, on the weekend of 26 March 2021, for the Spring National Audubon Society Shorebird Surveys as part of a larger partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Funding from the National Audubon Society will allow for an intensive weekend of shorebird surveys on the salinas and ponds of Grand Turk and Salt Cay. These vital habitats provide crucial resting and feeding points for wintering and traveling migratory shorebirds, many of which fly thousands of miles seasonally.

The DECR will be assisting on training TCNT staff on shorebird identification and techniques, following training given based on international partner BirdsCaribbean’s excellent bird identification training modules and trainings. The TCNT team will be logging data and getting up-close familiarity with the important natural, cultural, and historical wetlands and salinas of the Turks Islands. Shorebirds, including sandpipers and plovers, can be quite difficult to identify, especially in their winter plumage – so team members will be armed with binoculars, spotting scopes, and field guides as well as lots of field experience to log the numbers and species of shorebirds seen.

Shorebirds are considered important indicator species, especially for the long-term effects of climate change as both sea level rise and increased frequency and intensity of severe weather events affect their winter and summer habitats. Surveys will focus on historical salinas such as Town Pond, Red Salina, and Great Salina and natural ponds such as North and South Wells of Grand Turk, and the Balfour Town salinas of Salt Cay. Their shallow, muddy bottoms and both graded and steep entries provide diverse habitats that allow a wide variety of shorebirds to use them – from the tiny least sandpiper to the much larger willet.

The wintering shorebirds also vary from the very common, numerous sanderling, which can appear in flocks of hundreds, to the red knot, a much rarer bird. The bird counts will be logged using the free mobile app eBird, which uses citizen science technology to gather data on birds around the world. The data will be able to be used by scientists around the world, but in TCI will also contribute to the collaborative Darwin Plus funded project Restoring and Safeguarding Wetlands of the Caribbean UKOTs, also involving partners in Montserrat and Anguilla.

The project seeks to protect and restore wetlands in the Territories, while providing public education about the valuable ecosystem services they provide, such as flood control, carbon storage, and high-value ecotourism and birdwatching opportunities.

“The development of restoration and conservation actions that have identified environmentally significant wetland sites has provided the opportunity to engage our communities and promote the cultivation of eco-tourism. Furthermore, we are educating the public about the importance of safeguarding our natural treasures and appreciation of the diverse bird life in the TCI”, said Winema Sanders-Penn, Executive Director, TCNT.

DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “We are blessed in Turks and Caicos Islands to have this incredible free resource for birdwatching opportunities in the historic salinas and ponds of the Turks Islands. Once an economic powerhouse of salt production, they now offer a focal point for the lucrative birding guide industry. Through surveying migratory shorebirds, DECR and the National Trust gather data to demonstrate the natural importance of these sites as well as their income potential. “

The DECR and TCNT welcome interest in birdwatching and encourage anyone passionate about nature to use the eBird app to report observations.

Photo Credit:  MyTurksandCaicosBlog

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

Government committed to swift and successful execution of strategic plans for GB

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#TheBahamas, September 24, 2021 – Newly appointed Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey arrived in Freeport on Friday, September 24, 2021 and spent her first official day in office, at the Office of the Prime Minister.  The Grand Bahama Minister immediately talked about plans to revive the economy of Grand Bahama.

“In commencing this role, I reiterate my pledge to inspire hope, enable opportunities and deliver results for the people of Grand Bahama,” Minister Moxey said during a press conference in her office.

“Our island has been unbelievably challenged by natural disasters and a strained economy for far too long.  However, despite our challenges, Grand Bahamians remain remarkably resilient.  As your Minister, I am excited to journey with you as we recover, rebuild and revolutionize the island of Grand Bahama.”

The Davis Administration, she added, has implemented strategic plans to achieve this goal.  Minister Moxey said that the government is committed to the swift and successful execution of those plans.

“The first thing I wanted to do was to get into office, because there is so much work to do,” said Minister Moxey. “There are so many people hurting in the community and there are so many projects that need to be tackled.

“We have the situation with the airport. We know that the Grand Bahama International Airport was sold to the government, so we have to get the ball rolling with that and develop a master plan for the airport.  Of course there will be a lot of collaboration that’s involved. We have to meet with the private sector and the regulators.

“There is the situation with the Lucayan Resort and that is something that we will look into and try to figure out how to resolve the issues that may exist there.  But we have a plan for the island in general.”

Minister Moxey noted that Grand Bahama had been in the doldrums long before Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 Pandemic, pointing out that the island’s economy began to go downhill from the passing of Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and 2005.

She has vowed to work with diligence to begin delivering immediate social relief to Grand Bahamians and much-needed reconstruction on the island.  It is envisioned that this will, in turn, assist in the government’s mission to stabilize the economy of Grand Bahama and create opportunities for Bahamians to thrive.

“In general, we want to empower Bahamians and to empower Grand Bahamians, because that is what will help us move forward,” Minister Moxey added.   “It’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we would like the entire community to join us as we bring these objectives to pass.

“All that Grand Bahama needs will not happen overnight.  It will take some time to get Grand Bahama to the place where we all would like to see it.  So, we want the public to bear with us as we weed through all that has been going on.

“I’m about creating systems that allow for things to happen. We would like to see results, but we have to know what we need to put in place to get results.  I love the island of Grand Bahama and the people of Grand Bahama.  So, as I settle into this new role as Minister for Grand Bahama, I will do my best and work around the clock to turn things around.”

Minister Moxey said that she was proud to be the first woman to hold the title of Minister for Grand Bahama, and it is her hope that she would be able to inspire the future of women in leadership.

 

PHOTO CAPTION

BIS Photos/Lisa Davis

Header: Newly appointed Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey met with the press in her office at the Ministry of Grand Bahama on Friday, September 24, 2021.

Insert: Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (Grand Bahama), Mr. Harcourt Brown greeted newly appointed Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey upon her arrival at the Office of the Prime Minister on Friday, September 24, 2021, during her first official day as the new minister.

 

 

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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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