Editorial for 23 May, 2011: Conservation law applauded

Today we celebrate with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment the 25th anniversary of the passage of the law that preserves marine parks in this country.

Fittingly, there will be an open house at the George Town Library later today and there people will get a chance to eat some of the invasive lionfish that are hurting the habitat in our marine parks.

There was a cull of lionfish this weekend with weigh-ins on Saturday and Sunday in preparation of today’s big feed.

The Marine Conservation Law was adopted by the Cayman Islands Government 25 years ago to stop over-fishing and reef degradation. But what the law can’t do is stop the invasive lionfish.

While we are celebrating the Marine Conservation Law, there is a new National Conservation Law that our politicians need to muster the political will to introduce in the Legislative Assembly and pass. While the new law does not necessarily guarantee Cayman’s environment won’t be affected by development and a growing population, it does offer a chance to provide Cayman with the relevant and modern tools to protect and conserve the environment. The law has been through much public consultation and debate since 2002 and lawmaker after lawmaker in administration after administration has made empty promises to get the law enacted. 

Cayman has no laws to protect its lands. Just 0.5 per cent of the Cayman Islands is legally protected under the Animals Law of 1976, which protects small areas in which endangered animal species exist. There is also no law to protect any of the Islands’ native plant species. 

Under the Animals Law, only endemic birds and iguanas are protected. The National Conservation Law would give added protections to other creatures such as bats, lizards and butterflies.

While we celebrate what the Marine Conservation Law has successfully contributed to the Cayman Islands in the last 25 years, we need to put pressure on Government and those we elect to get the National Conservation Law on the books once and for all.