Protected species legislation comes into force this week

Substantial parts of the National Conservation Law, including the sections for designating protected land and protected species, will come into force on Earth Day later this month, Environment Minister Wayne Panton has confirmed. 

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly last week, Mr. Panton said the full law would likely be implemented before the end of the year. 

The National Conservation Council, established in September, has been working behind the scenes to put the framework in place for administering the complex and controversial law, passed by legislators in December 2013. 

Mr. Panton said, “It is so appropriate, so perfect, for the Cayman Islands to celebrate Earth Day by providing even greater legislative protection to our precious environment, for the betterment and enjoyment of our residents and visitors.” 

He added, “I am proud of the work that has been done over the years to develop and implement the National Conservation Law. I am grateful that Cayman can now point to a legislative framework that speaks to our love, protection and appreciation of our environment.” 

Parts 1 and 2 of the law, which include establishing the Conservation Council, were implemented in September last year. Mr. Panton said parts 3, 4 and 6 will come into force on Earth Day, this Wednesday, along with schedules of protected species. 

The new sections set out the process for Cabinet to designate crown lands as protected areas or enter into agreements with willing landowners for private land to be designated as conservation areas. They also include a schedule of protected species and establish the process for adding or removing species from those lists as well as measures to conserve and protect them. 

Certain species including sharks, rays and crocodiles are protected at all times. A second schedule of species, including grouper, lobster and conch, are protected but can be hunted in accordance with regulations or management plans. 

The remaining parts of the law dealing with licensing and permits and general matters will likely be implemented before the end of the year, Mr. Panton said.