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Caribbean News

TCI First in Caribbean for UKs Blue Belt Marine Protection program; gets $1M vessel for DECR



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer



#TurksandCaicos, June 6, 2022 – In an effort to get ahead of climate change and protect its oceans, the oceans, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is leading the pack as the first Caribbean island to officially join the Blue Belt Program. Created bythe United Kingdom it is an initiative that seeks to protect millions of square kilometers of ocean and some of the most unique sea life worldwide.

The announcement was made at a press conference hosted by the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) on May 26th attended by Josephine Connolly Minister of Tourism, Governor Nigel Dakin and other representatives of the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, DECR.

“The Program supports the UK overseas territories with the protection and sustainable management of their marine environment. The Blue Belt enhances marine protection over four million square feet of marine environment,” explained Lormeka Williams, DECR Director.

That four million square kilometers is home to the coral reefs of the Pitcairn Islands, the Green Turtles of Ascension Island, the Whale Sharks of St Helena, the world’s most remote human settlement in Tristan da Cunha, and the elephant seals and penguins of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. And now it encompasses the clear Blue waters and migrating humpback whales of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Since its establishment in 2016 the Blue Belt Program  has helped set up Marine Protection Zones (MPZ) or Marine Protection Areas  (MPA) in every territory signed onto the program including the largest MPZ in the Atlantic Ocean (Tristan da Cunha). These zones limit or prohibit entirely fishing and other activities which could prove hazardous to marine life.

Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism with responsibility for the environment said she was ‘elated’ at the development.

“My government and I continue to prioritize the sustainable management of our marine environment. Our country’s flourishing tourism product, coastal protection and fishing resources are all hinged on the robustness of our marine habitats,” she said.

Connolly also noted that the program could directly benefit the Turks and Caicos Islands as it would ensure marine protection which would bring lasting benefits to the marine environment and local communities.

A brand new $1 million vessel will be purchased with funds from the UK that the minister says will be used to, ‘demarcate park boundaries and swim zones’. The boat will double as a research boat as well.

Governor Dakin added, “That vessel will help us understand the third biggest coral reef in the world, it will also help us understand a marine protected area that will be established that will protect sharks and rays in our waters, it’s another huge win for us.”

Come June 8th the TCI will be represented in London to mark World Oceans Day with a panel discussion under the theme “Small island Big Impact”.

The Turks and Caicos Islands will be guided by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which are partners of the Blue Belt Program.

Human impact including poaching and poor fishing methods and destruction of the coral reef, seagrass beds and mangroves are some of the major environmental issues affecting the TCI. The Blue Belt program will provide technology allowing the country to mobilize quickly and have surveillance capabilities in order to prevent poaching.

“We will strengthen the government, increase protection of biodiversity, carry out scientific studies in support of sustainment fisheries management, manage other human activities, improve compliance and enforcement and address international issues such as climate changes, biodiversity and marine litter,” Connolly promised.

Governor Nigel Dakin described the initiative as a ‘double win’ for the Turks and Caicos coming on the heels of the recent signing of the Climate Change Charter.

Caribbean News

Barbados to Host 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace this Spring



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer



#Barbados, February 2, 2023 – Barbados has been selected to host the 41st edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace. The event will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown from May 9 -11, and it is expected to build on the success of the 40th staging held in Puerto Rico last fall.

CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig, who made the announcement recently, said it’s the first time in the organization’s history that the association’s largest annual event, which brings together buyers and sellers of the region’s tourism products and services, will be staged in Barbados.

“CHTA has a very strong relationship with both public and private sector stakeholders in Barbados, and as we position the region’s top earner for robust growth this year, we are delighted to lock arms with our Bajan partners to drive business to the Caribbean,” she stated.

Noting that: “This year’s Marketplace will also provide unique access to the Eastern Caribbean for buyers and tour operators as the region places a strong focus on the revival of multi-destination travel.”

Minister of Tourism and International Transport of Barbados Ian Gooding-Edghill, said the Barbados tourism industry was undergoing a major renaissance in the post-COVID environment, and the timing could not be better to welcome Caribbean Travel Marketplace to local soil.

“We are honoured to host such a preeminent gathering of tourism stakeholders from around the world,”  Minister Gooding-Edghill said, noting that the meeting aligns with Barbados’ value offerings, which appeal, among others, to the very important MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] market.

The launch of the first Caribbean Travel Forum & Awards, a highlight of the Puerto Rico meeting, will return for a second edition and will be held in Barbados on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, ahead of the official opening ceremony of Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

The Forum will also focus on the business of tourism, and business appointments will be conducted on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11.

Over 150 delegates, including Ministers of Tourism and key private sector leaders, engaged in the Caribbean Travel Forum last year.

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Bahamas News

National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas



By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer



#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.

“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.

Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.

Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”

The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.

Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.

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Caribbean News

Guyana secures cryotherapy machines to help fight cervical cancer



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer



#Guyana, February 2, 2023 – Guyana will see a significant boost to its healthcare system soon as the health ministry has acquired 20 cryotherapy machines to help treat and prevent cervical cancer, the second most prevalent cancer among women in the country.

Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, involves cooling the body’s tissues for therapeutic purposes and removing the abnormal tissue. This type of therapy is also used to treat many skin conditions and some cancers, including prostate, cervical and liver cancer.

The Health Ministry said the machines will help clear the backlog of patients needing such treatment.

Director of the Non-Communicable Diseases Programme of the Health Ministry, Dr. Latchmie Lall, said the equipment will be very instrumental in providing immediate service to patients.

“We are indeed very thankful for this donation of cryotherapy machines that were brought through the IDB project; a total of 20 machines that are going to be used to improve our screening services for cervical cancer; this will come as a great measure for not only screening but to provide immediate medical treatment in that if we do find a pathological cervix, cryotherapy can be applied immediately, and we have one healthy patient going back home to her family,” Dr. Lall said.

Director of Primary Healthcare Services, Dr. Ertensia Hamilton, said the equipment comes at an opportune time when the ministry is extending its services for women of reproductive age across the country.

“We recognise that Guyana still has a high incidence of cervical cancer in our women, and so we want to be able to have services available to them as we work towards ensuring that each individual across their life course has services to meet their medical needs,” she said.

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, during his comment, revealed that Guyana is trying to develop a comprehensive programme for cervical cancer.

“One of the things that we are trying to do is to have a comprehensive cervical cancer programme. The first level will be to prevent cervical cancer. We want to do that by encouraging people to get the HPV vaccination. We have these vaccines available. We have been rolling them out to ensure that every person eligible for these vaccines gets them.”

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