By Dana Malcolm
#USA, May 15, 2023 – US President Joe Biden is attempting to put protections in place for travelers by making airlines pay for accommodation and food costs incurred because of flight delays. Biden made the revelation during a press briefing on Monday May 8th, as he lobbied for airline accountability.
The president revealed that his team is drafting a new law to be proposed this year that would mandate not only refund costs for tickets (as the current law does), but cash spent on meals, hotels, taxis, ride shares, rebooking fees, and cash, miles, and/or travel vouchers whenever airlines are the ones to blame for the cancellation or delay.
In addition to that, hidden airport fees for US residents will be a thing of the past with another new rule Biden says.
“The Department of Transportation proposed a rule that will be finalized this year. If finalized as proposed, it would require airlines to show you the full ticket price upfront before you purchase it, including fees for baggage, for Internet, for changing your seat,” he explained.
Some major airlines are already covering the costs for delays but with the new law, all of them would be court mandated to do so and it could cost them some big bucks. In the 2022/23 winter season, thousands of flights were delayed owing to massive winter storms.
Over six thousand in November during thanksgiving and over seven thousand again in February; some airlines like Spirit were affected particularly badly, with nearly all flights grounded; the President described it as unacceptable.
“Last holiday season, travelers were stranded for days and had to scramble to find other ways to reach their destinations. Many missed family gatherings, spent Christmas at an airport, waited countless hours in line or on the phone, because there weren’t enough pilots, there weren’t enough personnel. That’s unacceptable.”
The US Travel Association says the onus is not just on them and is warning that Government underfunding, poor investment in technology and understaffing at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are going to cause major issues this summer. They are requesting an 8.5 billion dollar injection into the industry to fix staffing and technology issues in time for the record travel season.
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
Ministry of Fisheries Announces Ground-breaking Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program
Initiative Aims to Boost Spiny Lobster Stock Levels and Enhance Fishermen’s Livelihood
#TurksandCaicos November 25, 2023 – In response to the significant challenges faced by fishermen in the aftermath of the 2018 hurricanes, the Ministry of Fisheries is pleased to announce an innovative pilot program, the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program. The initiative is designed to address the decline in spiny lobster catch levels caused by the destruction of natural habitats, consequently impacting the economic viability of lobster fishing for local communities.
The Caicos Banks, renowned for their rich marine biodiversity, suffered severe habitat loss due to the accumulation of sands in the cracks and crevices of the seafloor after the 2018 hurricanes. This depletion of natural habitats has led to a direct correlation with the decline in spiny lobster catch levels over the years. Compounded by the rise in fuel prices and the overall cost of living, lobster fishing has become a less lucrative endeavour, with the economic cost per day soaring from $307 in 2010 to $493 in 2022.
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Ministry of Fisheries has undertaken a comprehensive study to devise strategic solutions that not only replenish lobster habitats but also ensure the sustainability of the industry for future generations.
The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program: A Holistic Approach
As part of the ministry’s commitment to supporting local fishermen and fostering sustainable practices, a pilot program is underway to construct 150-200 artificial habitats on the Caicos Bank. The following key components outline the comprehensive strategy of the program:
The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program, spearheaded by the Ministry of Fisheries, is not just a strategic move to revitalize spiny lobster populations but a dedicated effort to enhance the livelihoods of fishermen and their families. The program’s multi-faceted approach, encompassing financial incentives, community involvement, and ecological conservation, aims to bring about tangible and lasting improvements to the lives of those who depend on the sea for their sustenance.
Artificial habitat serves to provide lobsters with shelter and thus increasing their survival from natural predators
The infusion of financial incentives into the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program serves as a lifeline for fishermen, providing them with a supplementary income during traditionally challenging periods, such as the Christmas/Winter Season. By compensating registered fishermen for their labour in constructing artificial habitats, the program offers not only a short-term economic boost but also establishes a foundation for long-term sustainability.
While the tourism industry has undeniably played a pivotal role in the economic development of the islands, the benefits have not always trickled down to all sectors of society. Fishing communities, such as South Caicos, have stood on the periphery of the economic boom, facing challenges that threaten their traditional way of life. The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program represents a conscientious effort by the government to bridge this gap and ensure that every Turks and Caicos Islander shares in the prosperity of the nation.
In expressing her commitment to the well-being of fishing communities, the Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister with Responsibilities for Maritime and Fisheries Management, remarked, “Our islands have witnessed remarkable economic growth, particularly in the tourism sector. However, it is crucial that we do not leave behind the communities that have sustained themselves through generations of fishing. The Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program is not just a conservation initiative; it is a testament to our commitment to inclusivity and ensuring that the economic prosperity of the islands reaches every corner and every family.”
Minister Connolly further emphasized the importance of sustainable development, stating, “We recognize the delicate balance between economic growth and environmental preservation. This program is designed not just to increase lobster stocks but to empower our fishermen to thrive in harmony with our marine ecosystems. It is a step towards a future where our traditional ways of life coexist with progress, and where no one is left behind.”
As the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program takes its initial steps, the Ministry of Fisheries remains steadfast in its commitment to a holistic vision for sustainable growth. The success of this program is not merely measured in lobster catch levels but in the improved well-being of fishermen, the resilience of fishing communities, and the equitable distribution of economic benefits across the islands. The Ministry invites all stakeholders, from fishermen to environmental advocates, to join hands in creating a future where prosperity is synonymous with sustainability. The long term vision of this project that is that these artificial habitats will increase spiny lobster stock levels, enhancing profitability for fishermen and indirectly improving their livelihoods.
While this initiative is currently in its pilot phase, its success hinges on the collaborative efforts of the fishing community, stakeholders, and the Ministry of Fisheries. As part of the broader project, “Sustainable Livelihood for Fishermen,” the artificial habitat program signifies a commitment to a holistic approach that balances ecological conservation with economic prosperity.
The success of the Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program relies on the collective commitment of the fishing community, government agencies, and environmental organizations. The Ministry of Fisheries encourages public support and anticipates expanding the initiative with a larger number of 4,000 artificial habitats in the coming years.
The Ministry will be hosting a public meeting with all commercial fishermen in Providenciales at the Felix Morley community Center on Wednesday 30 November 2023 starting at 6:00 pm to present more information on the proposed lobster casitas and how fishermen can play a role and to hear more about the Ministry’s plans to ensure sustainable livelihood of fishermen and their families.
PLP holds onto West End & Bimini; Kingsley Smith tops nearest opponent by 914 votes
#TheBahamas, November 25, 2023 – The PLP retained their hold of the West Grand Bahama and Bimini constituency in the House of Assembly following the by-election on Wednesday.
Kingsley Smith, the PLP’s candidate, won the election with 2,150 votes. Ricardo Grant, the FNM’s candidate, followed in second place with 1,236 votes and Lincoln Bain, the leader of the COI in third with 229 votes. The other candidates, Daquan Swain and Terneille Burrows received a combined 32 votes.
Philip Davis, The Bahamas’ prime minister in speaking on the win said, “I want to thank the people of West Grand Bahama and Bimini who once again show their support for the PLP and for administration. I want to thank them for that vote of confidence for us to continue with what we started. We are so very grateful to you for engaging with us, listening to us and continuing to give us your support.”
Davis continued to express thanks to his party’s candidate, Smith.
“A huge thank you to our candidate Kingsley Smith as he steps to carry the button for the people of West Grand Bahama and Bimini. Kingsley Smith was our man and our choice and we congratulate him on sprinting successfully through a campaign which none of us expected. Congratulations Kingsley on a job well done.”
Smith, commenting on his win said, “let me first say that I want to thank the almighty God for having me in this position I am in today. When the opportunity arise, I went and I thanked and I asked God to lead me on this process.”
He continued to thank the residents of West Grand Bahama and Bimini as well as his family, friends and government officials who supported him.
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