#TurksandCaicos, March 2, 2023 – The plight of seagrass habits around the globe is being highlighted as part of the very first World Seagrass Day. In May 2022 the United Nations declared today, March 1st, as World Seagrass Day in a bid to raise awareness of the threats these essential marine habitats currently face.
Seagrasses are marine flowering plants that are found in shallow waters in many parts of the world, from the tropics to the Arctic circle. They form extensive underwater meadows, creating complex, highly productive and biologically rich habitats.
Covering only 0.1% of the ocean floor, these seagrass meadows provide food and shelter to thousands of species of fish, seahorses, turtles, and conch, and sustain some of the world’s largest fisheries. They improve water quality by filtering, cycling and storing nutrients and pollutants, reducing contamination in seafood. Highly efficient carbon sinks, they can store up to 18% of the world’s oceanic carbon, making them powerful nature-based solutions to tackle climate change impacts. Because they buffer ocean acidification, they contribute to the resilience of the most vulnerable ecosystems and species, such as coral reefs. And to coastal populations such as the Turks and Caicos Islands, they act as the first line of defense along coasts by reducing wave energy, protecting people from the increasing risk of floods and storms.
Despite its important contribution to sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation, this core component of marine biodiversity is in danger. The combined pressures of coastal development, pollution, including land-based run-off, climate change, dredging and unregulated fishing and boating activities are key drivers of the degradation of seagrasses and their associated ecosystems.
The easiest way to protect seagrasses is by preventing damage in the first place:
Be Aware: Be careful when applying fertilizers and pesticides to landscaping. Use only the amount of fertilizer required and consider using a slow-release fertilizer. Contaminated run-off transports chemicals to the water.
Read the Waters: Wear polarized sunglasses when boating to reduce the surface glare to help you see shallow areas and seagrass beds.
Know Your Boating Signs and Markers: Operate your boat in marked channels to prevent running aground and damaging your boat and seagrass beds. Know the correct side to stay on when approaching channel markers. Learn the shapes and markings of signs warning boaters of dangerous shallows and areas where boats are prohibited by law.
Know Your Depth and Draft: When in doubt about the depth, slow down and idle. If you are leaving a muddy trail behind your boat, you are probably cutting seagrass. Tilt or stop your engine if necessary. If you run aground, pole or walk your boat to deeper water. Never try to motor your way out. This will cause extensive damage to seagrass and may harm your motor. Know the times for your low and high tides.
Be On the Lookout: Do not anchor in seagrass beds, but rather look for open, sandy patches in which to anchor.
Study Your Charts: Use navigational charts to alert you to shallow areas so you don’t run aground and damage seagrass. Know before you go.
Image Credit: Lilly Palmer
In 16 Years, the TCI will be a “Developed Country” reveals Vision 2040 plan
#TurksandCaicos, March 3, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos will be recognized as a developed country in the next 16 years with a high quality of life enjoyed by its citizens. That’s the mandate of the Vision2040 document, to be achieved by aligning government spending, projects, laws and development strategies with five key pillars;
- A High National Income;
- A Socially Cohesive Society;
- A Healthy National Environment
- Citizen Security and Justice; and
- Good Governance.
According to Athenee Harvey-Basden, Permanent Secretary of Finance, the government is already putting the pedal to the metal.
“Every time a new proposal for spending comes into the Ministry of Finance Investment and Trade, it is assessed based on the goals of the Vision 2040 plan. A new program must fit one of the five pillars and the necessary condition must be identified. Existing programs have also been mapped to the vision,” she said.
The plan was devised in 2016 by Washington Misick, TCI Premier, when he was Minister of Finance. It was carried on by Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Former Premier; however the official public launch of the project only came on February 23, 2024 in a Bi-Partisan show of support.
“I believe this mission is achievable. I believe the goals are measured and supported by strategies set out in the documents,” Misick told the gathered attendees when he was invited to speak.
The Premier maintained that sustainability was a key part of TCI growth, as was collective deference to the vision plan.
“We must now share the vision widely and it starts today, going forward all ministries, departments, statutory bodies and private sector partners should ensure that decisions are centered around the collective vision, our vision.”
Misick promised that the plan would rebalance the scale locally, allowing just distribution of the country’s resources.
Drexwell Seymour spoke on behalf of the private sector which was consulted along with the civil service, public sector and civilians. He maintained that business efficiency should be increased in the Turks and Caicos for ease of access for consumers.
For his part, Edwin Astwood, Opposition Leader, encouraged all stakeholders to think outside the box and find ways for the TCI to become even more successful. Anticipating changes in the social and natural environment like the shifting popularity of the country’s islands, Astwood urged stakeholders to prepare.
“When I think of 2040 I want us to think outside the box, don’t think on the obvious, the easy, the low-hanging fruit. How is the Turks and Caicos going to look in 2040?” He continued “If you have little kids they’re going to be big men and women. What kind of environment are we leaving them?”
He maintained that Vision 2040 was ‘everyone’s baby’ and maintained all parties should be committed to it.
Cartwright-Robinson commented on the move in a piece published online maintaining that she was proud to see the vision move forward.
In commenting on the national development plan, Her Excellency Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands said, “Vision 2040 aims to be a constant in an ever evolving environment to ensure we leave assets to sustain our future prosperity. The book itself is beautifully presented, symbolic of the scope and scale of your commitment and ambition of these islands. I am heartened to see the bi-partisan effort involved in the delivery of Vision 2040.”
Years in the Making, Turks & Caicos Opens Special Needs Department
#TurksandCaicos, March 3, 2024 – For years the curation of special needs services has been a community wide effort in the Turks and Caicos Islands, now the hard work has culminated in the launch of the Department of Special Education Needs Services (DSENS).
The department, entirely dedicated to special needs and headed by a Turks and Caicos Islander, was officially launched on February 27. Attending the event were Anya Williams, Acting Governor; Washington Misick, TCI Premier; Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, and dozens of residents, special needs students and teachers.
Minister Taylor described what the new department meant for residents.
“This Department stands as a beacon of hope and opportunity for individuals with special needs signaling a new empowerment and inclusion,” she said.
The minister maintained that it was her passion as a trained educator to make sure all students had access to education. Taylor admitted though that students with special needs have been underserved and overlooked for far too long.
The Turks and Caicos has struggled repeatedly with sufficient expert care for special needs and a special needs institution has been in the works for years without completion.
“We anticipate the opening of the Special Needs Centre, a long-awaited development that will provide our children abroad with the opportunity to return home and receive the specialized education and support they need,” Taylor updated during the event, but did not provide a date for the opening.
For her part, Anya Williams, Acting Governor with responsibility for the public service, revealed that the process of hiring a sufficient complement of staff to serve the country was extremely difficult. With this in mind she had strict words for local students studying in special needs care and treatment areas overseas.
“It is your duty to return to the Turks and Caicos because often we provide the scholarships and the means for persons to qualify themselves and when they complete they advise us that they’re not returning,” she continued “I’m calling you out and saying that it is your duty to return home and I will ask the Ministry of Education to enforce your bond. That is necessary.”
Washington Misick, TCI Premier, promised that the government was focused on creating an accessible Turks and Caicos for everyone.
“The focus of the government is no one left behind so it doesn’t matter who you are— what is the degree of your infirmity or special needs.”
Newly hired Department Head, Dr. Anya Malcolm Gibbs, highlighted the history of special needs care locally.
“The roots of special needs development in the Turks and Caicos can be traced back to the 1980’s where the work needs was a program in the welfare department introduced by Paul Crooks from the United Kingdom,” she explained.
That work was followed by support from the British Development Division in 1992 via a special needs coordinator. By 1993 the local government took control of the area.
The late Marion Williams was acknowledged by Taylor as a key player in the special needs industry. Thanked for their service also, were Leo Selver, Jas Walkin, Earl Fulford the One World Foundation, Therapy Abroad and others.
Currently there are 17 special needs teachers, a specialist classrooms at the Eliza Simons Primary and a Special Needs Resource Centre at the Adelaide Oemler Primary.
Haiti to hold elections in 2025
#Haiti#Elections,February 29th, 2024 – The President of Haiti Ariel Henry has agreed to hold General elections by Mid-2025, August 31st, as announced by The Prime Minister of the Bahamas Philip Davis on Wednesday February 28th, 2024, at the end of the 4 day 46th Caricom heads of Government meeting. To help Haiti prepare for elections, Davis says an assessment team comprised of international partners will be formed
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