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Focus on Marine Parks

Residents at a recent public consultation meeting in North Side.

After some lively and engaging public consultation meetings on the proposed marine parks expansion, the Department of Environment (DoE) is pleased with the participation and feedback thus far.

Sixty people attended the George Town session. In East End there were 40 attendees, in North Side more than 70 persons came out, in Cayman Brac 50 and in Little Cayman 35.

Two more meetings are scheduled to take place: on Monday, 5 November at the Turtle Farm Foyer, West Bay; and on Tuesday, 6 November at Bodden Town Civic Centre -- both at 7pm.

Impressed by the attendance and tone of the meetings, DoE Deputy Director for Research, Tim Austin said, "The turnout has been phenomenal. These interactive discussions are key to the success of this project. If people are not invested in it, it won't work."

Based on general feedback so far, he advised that although there was occasional dispute on where exactly the new parks should go, people still agreed that there should be an expansion.

Mr. Austin also explained that some districts had formed independent break-out groups that would carry out their own consultation and report back to DoE with a unified district recommendation.

While the proposed expansion of the parks system may impact some traditional practices, the DOE stressed that the country and its people would ultimately experience the benefits of added protection from marine parks. Local fishermen and divers will still have other areas to roam.

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie, commented that the Cayman Islands' Marine Parks, now 25 years old, have been the Islands' saving grace when it comes to retaining a rich and varied marine life.

If local marine resources are not protected and managed, it is projected that within 25 years Cayman's marine environment will have continued to decline to a level with little to no opportunity for recovery. For this reason improving the system now is considered a vital step towards preserving the Islands' marine heritage for future generations.

During the public consultation period, DoE also invites the public to visit its headquarters on North Sound Road to view the draft maps of the proposed Marine Parks system and regulations and discuss any aspects. These same documents will also be available at the meetings.

The public consultation process will conclude by 23 November 2012 at which time the DOE will collate and take into account the input received before making its final and formal recommendations to Government in January 2013. For more information, contact DoE at 949-8469 or visit them online at www.doe.ky.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Yvette Cacho




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