Life as our stingrays know it is about to change.
Cabinet is soon expected to adopt new regulations that will govern how humans act at Stingray City and the Sandbar.
The two sites are extremely popular for tourists as well as residents.
That popularity means that thousands of people interact with the rays every year.
Those thousands of people also have an impact on the environment.
If we don’t do something now to protect our rays and their environment, we will be cheating future generations out of future enjoyment of these activities.
One of the major goals of the new regs is to protect the stingrays.
Too many times visitors to Stingray City – and some of the boat owners who take them out – pick rays up out of the water to have their photo taken with them.
How uncomfortable that must be for the rays.
Many Stingray City tour operators already forbid the practice of picking up the rays, but it isn’t law and should be.
In fact, the regulations will prohibit any marine life from being taken out of Marine Interaction Zones, which Stingray City and the Sandbar are.
There’s has also long been the fear that the rays are being overfed by over-zealous visitors. The regulations will limit who can feed the stingrays.
That’s how it should be.
The regulations are also expected to limit the number of people at either site at any given time.
Those who have ventured out to Stingray City or the Sandbar know the sites can be extremely overcrowded, especially if there are several cruise ships docked in George Town.
We really paint a negative picture when we present two of our most famous attractions in a cattle-call type manner.
We don’t appreciate being herded when we visit other destinations and it’s a sure bet our visitors don’t want to be similarly treated.
In addition to protecting the environment, the regulations are about making the tourism product that is Stingray City and the Sandbar a positive experience for everyone and one in which visitors will happily return home to tell about.
The regulations for Stingray City and the Sandbar are long overdue and welcome. We hope Cabinet acts soon.