For first time in its 33 year history, the National Trust for the Cayman Islands (NTCI) held an Extraordinary General Meeting, (EGM) on 9th January at the George Town, Yacht Club in order for its membership to vote on a historical issue.
The vote centered around the organization’s official public position regarding a controversial cruise berthing facility currently being proposed by the Government in the Cayman Islands.
During the Meeting, the National Trust members unanimously voted for the organization to have an official stance against the port project, noting:
“The National Trust is determined to carry out its mandate to protect and preserve the historic, natural and maritime heritage of the Islands as defined in Section 4 of the National Trust Law.
“It also wants to remind the public of the Constitution Order 2009 which states the Cayman Islands ‘will be a country that respects, protects and defends its environment and natural resources as the basis of its existence’ and ‘a Country that manages growth and maintains prosperity while protecting its social and natural environment’.
Previously, the NTCI were neutral on the issue pending a proper Environmental Impact Assessment, but the organization said in a statement, “…with information not forthcoming, the lack of meaningful consultation, the National Trust decided it had to call an EGM to solicit the feedback of its membership and take a -(official)- position.”
After a brief presentation by wildlife and underwater photographer and Woman Divers Hall of fame member Ellen Cuylaerts, NTCI legal counsel John Harris and Executive Director Nadia Hardie, provided an update on the National Trust’s legal position as Intervener in the Shirley Roulstone vs CIG judicial review on the Cruise Berthing Port set down to be heard on the 22nd January 2020.
The EGM was well attended by Trust members and over 65 proxies were also submitted. A Resolution was passed unanimously enabling the National Trust to formally oppose any development of a Cruise Berthing Port in George Town Harbor which would jeopardize its endangered and protected species of coral and marine life and which would be inconsistent with the provisions of section 41 of the National Conservation Law.
Representatives for the National Trust said the non-profit had consistently called for full disclosure on the potential environmental impacts of the Cruise Port project as well as for meaningful consultation with the public since the new design changes, so as to allow voters to make an informed decision when voting at the People Initiated Referendum.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands is presently seeking an injunction - via the Cayman Islands courts/judiciary - against the government to stop a vote that could mean acres of coral in George Town will be removed. If successful, the injunction would give time for a more current Environmental Impact Study to be done before any vote would take place.