The proposed expansion of marine parks around the Cayman Islands puts too many restrictions on fishermen, United Democratic Party legislator Captain Eugene Ebanks told party supporters.
Speaking during a political meeting in West Bay last week, Captain Ebanks said he did not support the proposals in their existing form. He said he supported the concept of marine parks in Cayman Islands, but felt the new changes went too far.
“The new introduction that is being proposed; we cannot support them the way they have been presented,” he said. “It will create too many difficulties for the Caymanians who have depended heavily on being able to go fishing, lobstering, conching and enjoying the marine life.”
The Department of Environment has been presenting its proposals to increase no-fishing zones around Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman during a series of public meetings over the past few months.
The plan includes the extension of “no-take” rules from the shore to 200 feet of water in designated areas. At the moment, the outer limit of the protected area is 80 feet.
The proposal has attracted some opposition from fishermen in Cayman Brac presenting a petition to the department.
“The restrictions that they are proposing will in essence double the size of the marine parks now,” Captain Ebanks said. “Before they were extended to the reef and stopped there and now they are going beyond the reef into the ocean.
“Even the guys who want to go out and catch goggle eyes at night or jacks or whatever, if they want to tie on to the dive buoy they are not allowed to do that,” he added. “It is just too many restrictions.”
Captain Ebanks, a member of the Legislative Assembly for West Bay and the owner of Bayside Watersports, has previously served on the Marine Conservation Board.
Speaking after the meeting, he emphasised he was stating his personal position on the issue.