Law and order in Stingray City? May 11, 2006 8:33:11 GMT -5
Post by LSDeep on May 11, 2006 8:33:11 GMT -5
Don't be alarmed folks. I'm your certified PADI Project Aware eco diver and I've been trained to safely feed, pet and ride marine wildlife for your fun and enjoyment.
CAYMAN ISLANDS (11 May 2006) -- Law and order could be coming to Stingray City in the North Sound following boating accidents and growing health and safety concerns from various sectors.
Those regulations have now been drafted and they are under consideration by (the government of the Cayman Islands).
The latest in the series of complaints sprung up last week Friday when Net News published a photograph of the mal-handling of a stingray by an employee of one of the tour operators.
Commenting on the issue, Director of the Department of Environment (DOE), Gina Ebanks-Petrie, said some scuba diving, snorkeling and tour boat operators have been pushing for legislation because some of their own failed to observe existing guidelines.
"Some people were following the guidelines and others weren't and the watersports operators felt on balance it would be better to have a clear regulatory regime," she said.
Mrs Ebanks-Petrie said the guidelines were developed in 1996 and presented to operators working in the Sand Bar area and Stingray City.
"We're beginning to be concerned for a number of different reasons but here are some guidelines we think will help with the management of the area," she said the DOE told operators then.
"Three years ago, the operators came back to us and said we feel that we need to go from these guidelines to proper legislation," she added.
According to the DOE chief, the watersports operators, the Marine Conservation Board, the Land and Sea Co-op, the Department of Tourism and the DOE discussed the guidelines before recommending legislation.
"We sat down and hashed out with these as sort of a baseline what we would like to see as a management regime at the Stingray City/Sand Bar site and we made recommendations for the regulations."
Mrs Ebanks-Petrie said line fishing is also creating headaches in the area, which is regarded as one of the Island's leading tourist attractions.
"Because of the actual physical location of Stingray City and the Sand Bar line fishing is permissible in that area but clearly it's not a good thing for people to be line fishing on the Sand Bar."
She said in order to prohibit line fishing on the Sand Bar legislation is being considered, citing incidents of stingrays being caught up in the process.
"There had been reported incidents of people inadvertently catching rays, not meaning to, but because there is such a big conglomeration of them out there. They were not doing it illegally," she said.
Other concerns expressed by the DOE are the possibility of pollution from feeding packages and the physical impact on the Sand Bar and the surrounding coral reefs.
"The main concerns that I think most people have are tourism product management type of issues, not so much an environmental issue but they both overlap," Mrs Ebanks-Petrie said.
In 1996 the DOE issued these (inadequate) guidelines for feeding and interaction with the rays at Stingray City and the Sand Bar:
# Restrict the feeding to an appointed tour operator/staff member on each boat.
# Although not the ray's natural food, squids or fish are more preferable than manufactured meats, processed cheese, breads or pasta.
# Limits the amount of food fed to the rays. Australian guidelines recommend one kilogramme of food per fish feeding station with a maximum of two feeding stations in any one area.
# Tour operators should be responsible for ensuring uneaten food is retrieved and not left on the Sand Bar
# Handling the rays should be prohibited. Rays should not be lifted out of the water or prevented from moving away.
# Laminated sheets explaining the agreed guidelines and basic ray biology should be displayed in prominent locations aboard tour boats.
# Participants in the feeding programme must be given practical and adequate warning of the potential dangers of feeding and interactions with the rays.
SOURCE - Cayman Net News