Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Passing the National Conservation Law

Passing the National Conservation Law, enhancing our Marine Parks, adopting a Climate Change Policy and updating CITES legislation - discussed in the Premier’s speech yesterday: The long-awaited National Conservation Bill will be brought to this honourable House before the end of this year.

This important legislation has the support of my caucus, and we have ensured that the Department of Environment, or DoE, will be in a position to support this legislation once it is passed. The draft Bill being presented is substantially the 2009 version prepared by the former PPM administration, updated to address concerns raised by the past UDP administration and independent Members. While Government plans to allow Members of the House and the public significantly more time than the required 21 days to review the draft Bill, we do not anticipate significant amendments, and we look forward to unanimous support for this seminal legislation.

The Government also is committed to continuing the consultation on proposals to enhance our current system of marine parks. DOE research shows that, while the marine parks are providing some protection, a confluence of factors has caused serious changes to our reefs, and the current protections therefore are no longer enough. These factors include population increase (resident and tourist), overfishing, coastal development, invasive species, disease of coral and other marine organisms, and climate change. The future for our marine resources is bleak without decisive and timely corrective action.

An appropriately configured and enhanced system of marine parks is the best tool available for actively managing our marine resources in order to achieve fisheries sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem resilience, in the face of the existing and emerging threats. Further, we recognise the importance of addressing climate change. We acknowledge the sobering message of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a summary of which was released on Friday, 27 September: Climate change is real, it is caused by human actions, and it continues unabated.

Cayman simply cannot afford to ignore the conclusions of this worldwide committee of eminent scientists, as the implications for the continued rise in sea levels will have severe consequences for future generations if left unchecked. The Government therefore intends to adopt the draft climate policy, produced in 2011 by a multidisciplinary public/private sector initiative led by the DoE, and to begin urgent work on an implementation plan. And lastly, in an effort to honour our commitments made under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna,

Government will take all necessary steps to bring into force the updated, local CITES-implementing legislation – the Endangered Species Trade and Transport Law – which was passed by this honourable House in 2004. Madam Speaker, we must do all that we can to protect the environment on all three Islands to ensure that we preserve paradise for future generations of residents and tourists alike. Just as we are protecting our flora and fauna, we are making moves to improve the infrastructure to make our visitors’ stays more comfortable and accommodating. (Photo: www.theprogressives.ky)