Pond may lose sanctuary status

salt water pond cayman brac lg

The Salt Water Pond on Cayman Brac could be stripped of its designation as the island’s only animal sanctuary. 

A bill to amend the Animals Law, under which the pond is listed as an animal sanctuary, seeks to remove the protected area designation from the pond to enable “odour issues to be dealt with more effectively”. 

Salt Water Pond, also known as Dennis Point Pond, is the only area of Cayman Brac to be classified as an animal sanctuary under the Animals Law. The pond is home to several bird species, including the endangered West 
Indian whistling ducks.  

According to a memorandum of objects and reasons, which lays out the rationale behind the proposed amendment, “In recent times … an offensive odour has been emanating from the pond due to the decomposition of its organic material”. 

The memorandum states that 
efforts have been made to eliminate the odour, but have produced “only temporary relief for surrounding residents”. 

The bill, published in the Government Gazette on 23 April, will go before the Legislative Assembly for consideration. 

The National Trust has called for a public consultation to be carried out before any action is taken to remove the pond’s protected status. 

The Trust’s General Manager Christina McTaggart said: “The National Trust believes that before any decision is made, some public consultation should be undertaken, especially given that Salt Water Pond is the only designated animal sanctuary and one of the precious few wetlands on Cayman Brac. These wetlands are extremely important for a wide variety of local and migratory water birds and up to 500 snowy egrets and 250 tricoloured herons have been observed during the spring migration season.” 

“In addition to its significant environmental value, the pond also contributes to Cayman Brac’s eco-tourism product. If the designation is removed from the pond, this would open up the possibility for development, which could in turn have negative effects on the bordering environmentally significant sites such as lagoons, Dennis Point and adjacent Marine Park and Replenishment Zone, of which the Brac has the smallest extent of the three islands.” 

She added: “Given the obligations of the Cayman Islands government under various multi-lateral environmental agreements, to remove this designation without any public consultation or mitigation plan will set a dangerous precedent. If a decision is ultimately taken to remove the designation, another appropriate site of equal area should be simultaneously designated as an animal sanctuary or vested in the Trust for the purposes of protection.” 

In November 2010, the Cayman Islands Department of Environment advised the ministry that the removal of protections of the “only remaining animal sanctuary on the Brac as extremely regressive from a national conservation perspective” and urged the government to consider its responsibilities under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. 

If a decision to remove the Salt Water Pond as an animal sanctuary goes ahead, the Department of Environment strongly recommended that “a wetland area of at least equivalent size and environmental value be acquired and designated as an animal sanctuary at the same time as Salt water Pond is de-gazetted”. 

Although the department said it was willing to assist with the selection of such a site, Gina Ebanks-Petrie, director of environment, said her department had not been consulted to date regarding the identification of an alternative site for protection. 

A report on Cayman Brac sustainable development policies in 2003 named the Salt Water Pond, along with Haymond’s Pond, Red Shrimp Hole and nest areas for Brown Boobies, as environmental sites worthy of conservation. However, Salt Water Pond is the only area in Cayman Brac designated as an environmentally-protected area within the Animals Law. Westerly Ponds and an area of swamp between the ponds had previously been designated as animal sanctuaries under the legislation, but their protected status was removed in 1988 by amended land registration. 

A change in the Salt Water Pond’s protected status appears to have been on the cards since August 2009, when Premier McKeeva Bush said at a public meeting on economic issues in Cayman Brac that his Cabinet, if requested, would approve the proposed construction of a marina and the dredging of Salt Water Pond to create a canal from the sea to the pond. 

That development, even if given the go ahead by Cabinet, would also need to go before the Development Control Board of the Sister Islands. As of last week, the Development Control Board had not received any application to build a marina or dredge the pond, which is situated behind the Alexander Hotel on the west side of the island. 

salt water pond cayman brac

Salt Water Pond is protected under the Animals Law. – PHOTO: JEWEL LEVY

10 COMMENTS

  1. This has more Stink about it than just the Pond.

    Let’s dissect this ‘argument/proposal’ a piece at a time;

    1)’According to a memorandum of objects and reasons, which lays out the rationale(?) behind the proposed amendment, In recent(?) times … an offensive odour has been emanating from the pond due to the decomposition of its organic material.
    My Response: The pond existed prior to people settling the island. The birds (wildlife) have been there for thousands of years, so has the ‘stink’; it’s not a recent event, only a recent objection.
    People weren’t forced to build there, they chose to.

    2)’The memorandum states that efforts have been made to eliminate the odour, but have produced only temporary relief for surrounding residents’.
    My Response: The only way to remove the odour was to remove the sourcethe birds. Was that the Solution?

    3)’A change in the Salt Water Pond’s protected status appears to have been on the cards since August 2009, when Premier McKeeva Bush said at a public meeting on economic issues in Cayman Brac that his Cabinet, if requested(?!!), would approve the proposed construction of a marina and the dredging of Salt Water Pond to create a canal from the sea to the pond.’
    My Response: The above statement says it all, there lies the Stink!

    Question: Who put the Memorandum forward?

    Summary: The pond doesn’t stink, the proposed idea of Dredging and a Marina does!
    Who benefits? Definitely not the birds!

  2. I think this needs to be looked into thoroughly before any action is taken to change the natural environment of this Pond. Surely an impact study should be done to assess the situation first? I have visited this Pond and found it beautiful. It was also an area rich in wildlife. The smell is a natural one and nothing to cause a stink about!

    I hope something is done to prevent this beautiful natural environment from being ruined. Future generations should be able to visit this beautiful Sanctuary.

  3. I’m on your side with this one Banana Republic, I can’t see any reason why if there is a problem it can’t be addressed without changing the protected status of the Pond. Sound like this is just being used as an excuse to back previously considered building plans for the area.

  4. The question is cui bono – who benefits? This plan has been bruited about on the Brac for many years – much like the castles in the air dream condo developments which have fallen silent and dead by the wayside. A marina off the Bogue next to the Cayman Airways runway? Gone with the wind. Another marina on north side north of West End Post Office? Give it a rest! The salt pond off Gerrard Smith Avenue and Bert Marson Drive is not large enough for a marina, no matter how wide the channel from sea to pond is, no matter how deep it is dredged; and pray tell, how would boats even enter the supposed-to-be-dredged channel to the stink pond? There has been no word of dredging of shallow reef-protected lagoon directly south of pond to enable a deep-water entrance of large yachts and sailboats and motor-boats and kayaks into the proposed marina. and moving South Side road up the bluff to one of the roads up there (Marie Ave?) to allow unfettered entrance of boats into marina? The curving road inland to the Bat Cave is mute evidence of a marina which never happened 25 years ago… I think the idea of the Salt Pond Marina hasn’t been thoroughly investigated by the powers-that-be yet. I am all for development of this wonder-full island, but first, let’s get rid of the mini Mt. Trashmore Dump that is polluting the air on the South Side of Cayman Brac.

  5. The pond has always smelled at low water – it’s a salt water pond. We all wondered why anyone would want to build a hotel there. There is something wrong with people building where they shouldn’t and then destroying natural places to accommodate their selfish usurpation of should be preserved for generations to come.

  6. I am a young Caymanian (with Brac roots) and next year I will make the decision of whether to come home or stay abroad for work.

    Can unna PLEASE leave me a little bit of my home country to return to?

    Every place I love is going to be dredged, paved or flattened by the time I get home.

    I won’t be sailing into your marina on my yacht but my generation and my children will be paying for that thing one way or another…

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with Banana Republic (the first responder, below). The stink as those who want to destroy the pond call it, has certainly been there since the formation of the pond. If people didn’t like the smell of the decomposition of natural materials, they should not have built there in the first place! I only wish the endangered West Indian Whistling Ducks and other migratory birds who call the pond home could decide that that they feel the stink caused by the surrounding human residents–the ever-increasing mounds of trash they produce that is not naturally decomposing or being recycled, the offensive smells of their cars and their food and their burning of fossil fuels, and THEIR SEWAGE is bothering them, and the homes and other developments must be leveled! I mean, that way, things could be just the way the ducks and birds want them. Gee, kind of like a new canal and marina is just what McKeeva and the developers want.

  8. I still dont understand the sense of having a marina on the southside of the island! everyone knows that the waves is usually alot rougher than on the north!

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