Chief Marine Parks Enforcement Officer Ladner Watler is scheduled to retire this month.
He will be missed.
Mr. Walter leaves behind a remarkable legacy and the Cayman Islands owes him a debt of gratitude for his service to the country.
Watler had a hand in some 90 rescue operations that were potentially lethal incidents.
It is a fact that there is a significant number of people who would not be here today if not for his bravery and professionalism.
Watler made a tremendous impact on the health of Cayman’s marine environment.
It is difficult to overstate his role in enforcing and educating people about Cayman’s strict Marine Park laws when they were introduced in the mid-1980s.
He is credited with selling the idea to defiant and often angry people who were opposed to limiting their take from the sea.
Wisely, Mr. Watler pushed education as hard or harder as he did enforcement.
He knew the key was getting most people to recognise the reality of a growing population vs. shrinking marine life.
If Cayman was to have any kind of healthy marine ecosystem to speak of, those laws had to be accepted by the majority of Caymanians.
Thanks largely to Mr. Watler’s efforts, they were.
Hopefully government will keep Mr. Watler’s phone number handy.
One cannot ask for a better resource in the coming years as the Cayman Islands continue to face the challenges of a degrading marine environment and maintaining a high level of water safety for our residents and tourists.
We can never take for granted the importance of the ecosystems that surround our three islands.
Coral, conch and fish are more than sights to lure in tourism dollars.
Marine life is a part of the Caymanian identity.
Neglecting it and letting it slip away means losing a part of ourselves.
Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of the Department of the Environment, said that Walter helped to build and leaves behind a strong foundation.
His successors, indeed all of us, now have a responsibility to strengthen that foundation.
We must all do what we can to continue to protect Cayman’s marine environment as well as make our waters as safe as possible for everyone.