Stingray City issue isn’t personal

After watching Mr. Bernie Bush’s interview on Daybreak last Friday, I couldn’t help but feel the need to reply to the many questions and statements he made concerning the floating bar/restaurant and the people behind the protest.

Mr. Bush explained that his venture was not just a floating bar but a restaurant too and that he was planning on using bio-degradable corn plastics to serve food on. As I commend his effort to stay environmentally conscious, he still was not clear on how his restaurant/bar would prevent the negative affect it could have on the North Sound eco-system. Even if corn plastics are used, it is scientifically proven that if the corn plastics do not end up in commercial composters they will not biodegrade in the short time they’re supposed to, which is approximately one month. In order to biodegrade, the PLA must receive sufficient amounts of oxygen, water, light and soil, which are not usually present in a landfill. In that case, corn plastics could take a thousand years to biodegrade, like other plastics. And what about when these corn plastics, food and waste from the restaurant and bar go into the water? How does that affect the diet of the stingrays and other marine life in the North Sound who will potentially eat the corn plastics and food from off the floating restaurant and bar? Stingray City is supposed to be a protected marine park and wildlife interaction zone. A floating restaurant and bar could have seriously negative consequences for the North Sound and its marine life. Not only that but what about the safety of the tourist? In 2008, a cruise ship passenger was stung by a stingray at the sandbar. Alcohol surely has the potential in increasing the risk of incidents such as this.

Now I’m going to move onto a different subject entirely. As much as I wish I could stay on the topic of Stingray City and the floating restaurant and bar, Mr. Bush’s interview prevents me from doing that. First of all Mr. Bush asked, ‘Why is no one commenting on the makeup of the protest? How many Caymanians were out there?’ As a young Caymanian and the organizer of the protest last Monday I feel nothing but shock and disappointment towards these questions. Since when has it ever been okay to judge a group of people on the way they look? Isn’t Cayman a country full of all different colours and backgrounds? What kind of message is being portrayed to the children of Cayman who come in all different shapes and colours; that you’re not Caymanian unless you look a certain way? From firsthand experience, I can say that the majority of the people who came to protest at Heroes Square were Caymanians, as well as the many taxi drivers, bus drivers and men and women who honked their horns in support as they drove by. The signatures collected on the petition and the many people who showed their support were people from all ages and backgrounds. Caymanians, expats and tourists, and I think that’s awesome!

I would also like to say that the protest and the petitions being signed have no ulterior motives or political agendas as Mr. Bush assumes they do. Unfortunately Mr. Bush has ‘not read the newspaper or listened to the radio because of all of this’ but if he had, perhaps he would have seen that the main concern of the people has nothing to do with politics or anything else; it has to do with the protection and preservation of Stingray City. At least that is the reason I wrote my letters to the Compass and organised the protest against the floating bar. I can say for myself and the many people I have spoken to who took part in the protest and are signing the petition, that this is nothing personal against Mr. Bush. I don’t want to prevent Mr. Bush from making a living; I don’t think any of these people do. We are just concerned with how this floating restaurant/bar will affect the future of Stingray City. If anything, I want to thank Mr. Bush because this floating restaurant/bar has woke us up to the serious issues facing our beloved Stingray City and North Sound. Mr. Bush said ‘There’s a piece of pie here, and it’s time for Caymanians to get a piece of that pie’. It’s true, Stingray City is a beautiful yummy piece of pie…but once everyone has a slice, there’s none left.

Finally, I would like to say that the protest and debates concerning the floating restaurant and bar should have nothing to do with whom, but why? Why are people concerned? Why have people been moved to protest? Why are people signing the petition? I hope that Mr. Bush will ask himself those questions and consider our concerns. It is my hope that the government will not approve this operation and that more regulations and resources will be put in place to protect Stingray City and other marine parks and sanctuaries.

Natasha Kozaily