An upcoming workshop will explore opportunities for expanding deep-sea marine conservation efforts in the Cayman Islands with support from the United Kingdom (UK) Government’s flagship Blue Belt programme.
Facilitated by visiting representatives from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the Marine Management Organisation, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the workshop will form part of a week-long series of events where local agencies will develop future plans for safeguarding Cayman’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters from the impacts of pollution, illegal fishing, and climate change.
The Blue Belt programme aims to assist UK Overseas Territories in protecting and enhancing ocean health to halt biodiversity loss, enable sustainable growth, ensure climate change resilience, and to connect people with the natural environment.
Premier and Minister of Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Hon. Wayne Panton said the Blue Belt programme offers unique opportunities for the Cayman Islands to strengthen protections for marine biodiversity and manage human impacts on deep-sea marine areas.
“Here in the Cayman Islands, we have recognised the unique value of our marine ecosystems for a long time and have taken significant steps to safeguard our coastal waters through an enhanced marine protected area network with zones covering an impressive 55% of our nearshore waters. But, further out at sea, we know our pelagic species and environments are at risk from human impacts like illegal fishing and pollution that our islands do not currently have the capacity or infrastructure to monitor and enforce. The Blue Belt programme offers the chance for us to tap into a broader network of support for assisting with compliance and enforcement, strengthening governance and management frameworks, and building local capacity in these areas,” he said.
Attendees at the workshops will include representatives from the Cayman Islands Coast Guard, Customs & Border Control, the Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands, the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands and representatives of local offshore fishing vessels or ‘snapper boats’ which fish far offshore from the Cayman Islands.