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Ministry of Fisheries Announces Ground-breaking Spiny Lobster Artificial Habitat Program

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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.

Background: Challenges and Economic Impact

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[1]

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.

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Ministry of Home Affairs, Public Safety and Utilities and Telecommunications proudly Commissions the Yellow Wing

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, 21st February 2024 – The long-awaited completion and commissioning of the Yellow Wing at the Department of Correctional Services took place in Grand Turk yesterday.

The event was attended by a number of Government functionaries; including Her Excellencies, the Governor and Deputy Governor, Ms. Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and Mrs. Anya Williams respectively, the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Hon. Charles Washington Misick, Attorney General, Hon. Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, as well as the Minister for Home Affairs, Public Safety and Utilities and Telecommunication’s Commission, Hon. Otis Morris.

Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister for Tourism, Permanent Secretaries, Mrs. Bridgette Newman, Mr. James Astwood and Mr. Miquel Swann, newly appointed interim Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Eyre, Chaplains of the HoA and the Prison, along with staff of the Public Works Department, Department of Correctional Services and Olympic Construction were also in attendance.

The reconstruction of the Yellow Wing commenced in May 2020, following destruction of the building by fire in 2019.

The ceremony was chaired by Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Clyde Greene. Among the officials who brought remarks, were, the Superintendent, the Minister, the Deputy Governor, the Premier and the Governor; all of whom expressed their delight in being able to participate in and witness the commissioning.

In his remarks, the Superintendent of the Department of Correctional Services, Mr. Michael Woodbine expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Government and Ministry for the additional funding received by the Department, to assist with the resolution of a number of longstanding issues.

He went on to note, “The key function of the prison is not only to protect the public by keeping those who pose a risk out of society, but it also has a wider role to play in supporting law enforcement”

He further highlighted some of the Department’s community activities, support given in various areas and his department’s plans for the year.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Public Safety and Utilities and Telecommunication’s Commission, Hon. Otis Morris in his remarks stated, “Today marks a significant milestone, as we gather to celebrate the completion of the Yellow Wing. This project has been a collaborative effort; which demonstrated my Government’s commitment to providing a safer and more humane environment for inmates and staff alike.” 

Hon. Morris went on to note that the improvements made to the Yellow Wing would not only enhance the living conditions for inmates but would also contribute to the overall rehabilitation and well-being of those in the Department’s care.

In conclusion, he encouraged all to continue to work together to uphold the highest standards of safety, security and rehabilitation within our correctional facilities.

Following the hand-over of the keys, cutting of the ribbon and blessing of the building; attendees were treated to a Control and Restraint mock exercise to remove a non-compliant and violent person from a cell.

The team demonstrated the manner in which they calmly manage these very difficult situations, trying their best to de-escalate the person’s heightened mood and aggression. The Exercise was well received and the team was highly commended for their negotiation and team work skills.

The ceremony ended with the Vote of Thanks by the Deputy Superintendent Mr. Raymond Grant.

The Department of Correctional Services with the of support of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development will continue the upgrade of the facilities at the Department of Correctional Services with the works to the Blue and Green wings.

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Caribbean News

Deputy Premier Spot on, TCI TODAY Removed from EU Blacklist

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Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 20, 2024Sixteen months after being added to the European Union’s Black List for non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, the Turks and Caicos Islands is now off that list.

“Today,the Council removed The Bahamas, Belize, Seychelles and Turks and Caicos Islands from the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.”

The release explicitly states that in the case of the Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas, “ever since October 2022, deficiencies in the enforcement of economic substance requirements had been identified in both of these jurisdictions by the OECD Forum of Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP).”

It was recommended for remedy to the deficiencies has now been “converted from hard to soft recommendations,” said the statement.

That pivot was fundamental in the de-listing of the two countries said the information from the Council.

“…which allowed the Code of Conduct Group to consider these jurisdictions with no or only a nominal corporate income tax.”

When Magnetic Media spoke to E. Jay Saunders, Turks and Caicos Deputy Premier and Finance Minister in March 2023 he had full confidence that it was only a matter of time before the TCI was given a more favourable position with the EU. 

“There is no question about it. I’m confident that by February 2024, we will be off the list– I’m completely confident and there are no lasting repercussions.”   

 It had been sub-par computer systems that landed the TCI on the list.  The Deputy Premier, at the time offered that the EU was being too dramatic and its language, disproportionate surrounding the issue. 

That black listing and gray listing is often viewed as a black eye in the financial services sector, therefore this announcement today is vindication for the TCI and a huge plus for the Fintech ambitions of the Misick-led government.

 Twelve others remain with the unsavory categorization including Caribbean neighbours: Trinidad and Tobago; US Virgin Islands; Anguilla and Antigua and Barbuda.

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Government

Repatriation and Security, how TCIG spent the money

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 14, 2024 – Repatriation and other exportation costs are 66 percent higher for the first three quarters of the 2023/24 financial year (April to December) than they were in the same period of the 2022/33 year. 

The Q3 Financial Report tabled in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, February 6 revealed the cost of recurrent expenditure items including Repatriation.

Around $4.08 million was spent to send irregular migrants back home between April and December 2023. The figure does not include the interceptions between January and March 2023, those would have been counted as a part of the previous financial year. Total costs will be revealed in April of 2024 when the current financial year ends. For Q3 alone (October to December) $1.264 million was spent on these costs, $532,000 more than was spent in Q3 of the previous financial year. 

The already large figure comes as no surprise to residents who have been dealing with recurring instances of migrants landing on their shores and running through their yards all year. 

Conversely, the government drastically underspent the cash budgeted for security expenses with only $579,000 used from $1.4 million for the October to December quarter. It was in line with the trend seen all year as, only $1.6 million of the budgeted $2.9 million was spent between April and December.

Other than salaries, Social Welfare was the highest cost factor for recurrent expenditure with $1.8 spent in Q3 alone and $5.9 million for all three quarters combined. 

As for non recurrent expenditure, the SIPT trial and land purchases cost the government the most amount of cash, $1.6 million in Q3 alone and $5 million over all three quarters. 

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