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TCRF Reports Successful Trial in Treating Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease

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#TurksandCaicos, April 8, 2021 – Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is a highly deadly, fast moving disease that affects approximately 30 species of hard corals on the reefs of the TCI.  First observed on the reefs of South Caicos and West Caicos in early 2019, the disease spread quickly to reefs off NW Point, Grace Bay and continues to spread eastward past Pine Cay recently being observed on the reefs off North, Middle and East Caicos.

Scientists in Florida have been dealing with this disease since 2014 and through extensive research identified the antibiotic, amoxicillin, mixed with a specially developed, proprietary ointment base was the most effective option for stopping the progression of this disease.  The antibiotic paste is pressed into the coral tissue at the edge of a disease lesion.  The ointment base expands in sea water to fill the ridges and valleys of the coral skeleton slowly releasing the antibiotic into the coral tissue and minimizing the amount of antibiotic leaching into sea water. 

This is an incredibly labour-intensive, time-consuming and expensive way to deal with the disease but with Florida still seeing infection spread 7 years later, doing nothing is not an option. This disease has the power to severely reduce the populations of live stony coral cover. A recent paper from the School for Field Studies on South Caicos reports an approximate 60% reduction in live coral coverage since the disease outbreak in early 2019[1]. In 2020 TCRF were granted a permit by the TCI Government to test this treatment to determine its effectiveness on TCI reefs and to watch for any untoward effects on the marine environment.  TCRF began trials of the antibiotic treatment and recently completed and filed its final report of those treatment trials with DECR.

The treatment trials were conducted at six locations around the TCI – 3 on the reefs of Providenciales, 2 on those of Grand Turk and 1 on the reefs of Salt Cay. With up to 8 months of monitoring on 122 assessed colonies we are seeing a 93% success rate. Most of the control colonies that were not treated died within a few days or weeks, some of them continue to display slow disease progression. Species specific efficacy ranged from 50% to 100% with most species seeing 67%++ efficacy. To this date no untoward effects have been observed – fish would occasionally nibble on the ointment during treatment, but seemed to ignore it after the first nibble. There are more studies on this happening regionally and TCRF hope to help the studies in any capacity that we can.

“We are very excited to see such a high efficacy rate for our treatment program,” said Alizée Zimmermann, Executive Director of the TCRF.  “Our results are consistent to slightly better than seen in other parts of the Caribbean where this treatment is being used.  It is now considered to be the standard of care for treating SCTLD by the scientists studying the disease.”

These results are very encouraging and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources has recently granted TCRF a research permit to expand the treatment effort.  The treatment effort with the antibiotic ointment will continue and will target large colonies.  They will be tagged with special tags instructing any divers observing these colonies to take photos of the colony and send them to TCRF at SCTLD@tcreef.org.  This will assist in our ongoing monitoring effort of the treatment program. The goal with the expanded treatment effort is to target and save old, reproductive colonies of the most susceptible species so as to preserve the reef’s genetic diversity and ability to repopulate.

In addition, TCRF is teaming up with Ocean Alchemists, the company that developed the special ointment base for the amoxicillin, to test a new, non-antibiotic treatment.  This treatment option utilizes a proprietary formulation of naturally occurring products and it is impregnated into hemp rope which is then applied around the edge of a lesion.  TCRF will be comparing the effectiveness of this new treatment option to the current standard of care, the amoxicillin ointment.  Testing of the new treatment should begin within the next month.

“None of us want to use antibiotics in the marine environment, but the alternative would result in the loss of many decades to hundreds of years old coral colonies on the reefs that protect our islands from storm surge and wave action,” said Mrs. Zimmermann. “So we are excited to be involved in conducting research on potential alternative therapies that don’t involve antibiotics.”

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is the only active environmental advocacy organization in the TCI. It is an organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. Visitors can also support TCRF by purchasing a $40 spf50 rash guard designed each year by a different local artist. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.

Caribbean News

Rich Nations told to pay for Climate Change, Mia Mottley bring another charged speech to World Leaders

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By Shanieka Smith

Features Writer

 

#Barbados, June 25, 2022 – Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, unapologetically laid the blame for the climate crisis on wealthy nations.  She said it is long past time for them to compensate countries undergoing the effects of climate change.  Motley expressed her thoughts and made the request in New York, where she joined a panel on sustainable development at the Global Citizen NOW summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Nye.

“We’ve been carrying the costs on our balance sheet of your behaviour…”We’re not asking for the world.  We’re saying:  Look, put some money down and help us,” she said.

Barbados is battling rising sea levels, which threaten the water supply and encroach on coastal communities.  The World Health Organization has also warned that sea-level rise and changing weather could put immense pressure on freshwater resources.  However, this has not been a result of Barbados, which accounted for less than 0.01 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2020.

Mottley expressed that the reason for the issues of climate change is the G20 nations, including the US, UK, China, Russia and the EU.  The countries that have released the vast majority of the emissions heating the planet.

“That’s what”s put us in this position,” she said.

To emphasize the effects of climate change on the island, she added, “Can you imagine going to a restaurant next to a place full of sargassum seaweed smelling?”  “You’re not gonna go!”

Meanwhile, the heavy polluters are better equipped to deal with the consequences of climate change, and smaller developing nations in the Caribbean are forced to battle climate extremes with very few resources.

“It would be not so bad if we had 25, 30 years to adapt.  Instead, we’ve got 12-13 years, according to everyone,” she said.  This is approximately 144 months.

Motley said that mitigating the issue is not simple and that it comes with obstacles like Covid-19 and Russia-Ukraine. She said, however, that we have to “push past the pain.”

She added, “the issue is, will we get there fast enough to save those of us on the front line?”

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Why Jonquel & WNBA Ladies get LESS PAY than Klay & NBA Guys; its forcing ladies into risks abroad

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, June 25, 2022 – Being a player in the NBA is probably one of the most lucrative jobs that one can imagine.  Though better players get better salaries those salaries range between 900 thousand dollars for the lowest-paid players to up to 45 million for the highest-paid players but it is the NBA that ultimately decides how high salaries can go.

The total amount of money any team can spend on their players’ combined salaries is set by the NBA.  The teams then decide what to pay their lowest and highest-ranked players.  For the 22-23 season the cap is $122 million.

For example in the 2021-2022 Champions the Golden State Warrior’s lowest salary will go to Shaun Livingston, a guaranteed $1,333,332.  Their highest salary will go to Stephen Curry, a guaranteed $45,780,966.  This is in addition to sponsorship deals that can rake in millions of dollars for in-demand players.

In the WNBA 2021-2022 season, Brittney Griner earned a base maximum salary (without sponsorships) of $221,450.  That is the highest salary in the WNBA.  One of the best players in the league, Griner is paid four times lower than an NBA rookie.

This is true for women across the board, including the Bahamas’ Jonquel Jones.  Jones is one of the highest-paid players in the WNBA and is regarded as one of the most prolific.  Her salary is 208,000 per year.

Recently Griner was arrested in Russia for a small quantity of marijuana; she was there because she outsourced herself to the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg to have a chance at earning more money.

Grand Bahama’s Jonquel plays for the same team and says she can’t turn her back on the international leagues because the salary is just not comparable.  Two months ago she expressed the stress of traveling through Russia on Twitter.

“Just landed in Turkey and all I want to do is cry.  That situation was way more stressful than I realized.  Thank you God for always watching over and protecting me.”

Despite playing in China and Korea she said she never felt unsafe until the war describing it as “unprecedented.”

Despite the stress and danger, she told ESPN she was just going to have to deal with it.

“While the [WNBA] is making the right and necessary strides to pay us more and ensure that if we don’t want to go overseas, we don’t have to, I just feel like in my situation, the money is not comparable. I have to think about the financial status of my family and everybody else, and also the opportunities that I’m leaving if I don’t go.”

Remembering Griner Jones said “I’ve been looking at these pictures that I have on my phone, the last set of pictures I took with her we were going to Valencia or wherever. We were all just joking and laughing around and stuff, and it’s just crazy how fast things can change.” While she has hope things will change she says it probably won’t be in her playing years. For context, Jones and Curry are both power forwards.

In 63 appearances in 2020-21. Stephen Curry averaged 32.0 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds.  In 17 appearances in the same year, Jones has averaged 15.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists.  The men’s league plays over 1000 matches per year.  The women play under 300 WNBA and NBA players are comparable in talent so why is the pay so low?

Viewership plays a major role. More people watch the men’s games than women’s games, millions more which means a lot more money for the NBA. But this is not the only reason.

“The president of the WNBA thinks that one of the reasons men are paid more than women is that 50 percent of the NBA’s revenue is shared between the league and the players; however, there is about an 80-20 split for the WNBA. This means that the players only receive about 20% of the WNBA’s total revenue” says one academic paper done on the wage disparities in 2020. The study also referenced the 1,230 games men play each season compared to the women’s 204.

The WNBA has quality players with star value just like the NBA. The issue of lower revenues can be solved in great part, by better publicity, more games on the roster and lower age ranges for players.

Drumming up excitement, seeking out sponsorship deals, greater publicity, and all-star face-offs between the NBA and WNBA are all genuine possibilities that could prove instrumental indrawing tv viewership and courtside attention.

Until then stars like Griner and Jones will continue to relentlessly outsource themselves and play all year round for a piece of the pie their male counterparts take home in a single season.

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TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS POST CABINET MEETING STATEMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – Her Excellency the Acting Governor, Anya Williams, chaired the 19th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 22 June 2022 in Grand Turk. All other members were present.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  • Approved the terms and conditions for an application from a land surveyor for a licence.
  • Approved the making of the Revised Edition of the Laws 2021 (Commencement Order) 2022 subject to the approval of the House of Assembly; laws will be now be made available free of charge to members of the public on the Attorney General’s website. Physical reproductions will continue to be sold.
  • Discussed proposed amendments to the Insurance Ordinance as drafting instructions to the Attorney General’s Chambers and consultation with the industry.
  • Approved for the Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2022 to be introduced to the House of Assembly as soon as possible.
  • Approved the revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Committee Budget for the Financial Year 2022/2023 for office furniture and supplies; confirmed annual payments for the annual membership costs to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Agencies (FIA) and annual costs of the FIA’s travel costs for the Egmont annual meeting.
  • Approved a three year rental lease agreement for the relocation of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Culture and Heritage, Agriculture, religious Affairs and Gaming, and the Tourist Board and Department of Culture in Providenciales.
  • Approved a lease agreement for a temporary HQ for the Turks & Caicos Islands Regiment in Providenciales.
  • Was updated on the proposed merger of NIB/NHIP Compliance and Collections. Further consideration was requested before Cabinet can take a decision.
  • Noted the award of the following contracts in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Ordinance:
  1. PN 005600, TR 21/48, Furniture and equipment for Mental Health Facility – Grand Turk
  2. PN 005611, TR 21/30, Ballistic Vests for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force

III. PN 005614, TR 21/37, Bellefield Landing Civilian Safety Project – Safe Boat Slips

  1. PN 005627, TR 21/53, Furniture and Equipment for Public Works Programme Management
  2. PN 005630, TR 21/08, Vehicles for Government (resubmission)
  • Approved for a request from American Airlines to waive the import customs duties and customs processing fees for replacement parts for an aircraft that had an emergency landing on Providenciales to be forwarded to the House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
  • Noted a paper from the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) for legislative amendments to be made to the TCIAA Ordinance to regulate industrial action by employees of the TCIAA. Cabinet requested further consideration. Proposed amendments will be considered by the House of Assembly for approval in due course.
  • Approved the grant of a long lease to an applicant for a funeral home and cemetery on 60003/231 PT (2.5 ACRES)

 

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