Want a greener Cayman Islands? Well get involved! Many important organsations in the Cayman Islands are actively working to preserve, protect and "green-up" our environment.
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But before you join one of Cayman’s leading eco-organisations, it is important to learn about the many environmental issues impacting this tiny country. Ongoing construction threatens to encroach on sensitive ecological areas and the protection of Cayman’s natural resources is of grave concern to many residents.
One project that has been creating waves is the proposal to remove beach rock from a Marine Park zone on Seven Mile Beach. The National Conservation Council and a growing number of individuals, are pushing for an Environmental Impact Assessment to be carried out to measure how the removal of beach rock will affect wave patterns, beach erosion and the marine environment. Read more about it in Cayman's Outlook.
But there is good news too and Cayman along with private partners such as the Dart Group are also working to make the country greener. A new integrated waste management system, with waste-to-energy capability will soon be built and more importantly, the current landfill will be eventually capped and closed. So, as Cayman continues to undergo these “greening” changes, it is important to do your part as a private citizen. Read on to learn about the many organisations on-Island who would benefit from your help today!
Plastic Free Cayman
The Plastic Free Cayman movement continues to grow. This not-for-profit NGO has caught the community’s attention and people are now more than ready to refuse single-use plastic bags, refuse plastic straws, and take reusable water bottles, cups and containers with them to refill and use. They have also launched the 345 Pledge for Individuals, Businesses and Schools, to guide us all in ways to go single-use plastic free. Visit www.plasticfreecayman.com to learn more about the movement and for ways to get involved. They host monthly beach clean-ups, the details for which are on their Facebook page.
The National Trust
The National Trust has been protecting the future of Cayman’s heritage and environment since 1987. Supporting the Ministry of the Environment’s environmental programmes, the Trust is a not-for-profit NGO created to preserve the history and biodiversity of the Cayman Islands.
Through education and conservation it works to protect environmentally sensitive and historically significant sites. The Trust runs environmental, historic and educational programmes including the Mission House, the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, guided nature walks of the Mastic Trail and volunteer projects. Being a member, allows you access to voting privileges at general meetings, and discounts on entry into National Trust properties around the world. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.ky.
Central Caribbean Marine Institute
The Central Caribbean Marine Institute is a not-for-profit organisation in Little Cayman that works to protect coral reefs through conservation, research and education. The Institute runs an annual summer camp for students, programmes for researchers in the field of marine biology and conservation and other initiatives that aims to protect Cayman’s marine environment.
Visit www.reefresearch.org to learn how to get involved in their many initiatives.
Ambassadors of the Environment
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman has partnered with Jean-Michel Cousteau to create this world renowned programme of educational and fun activities for both children and adults. Teaching about the natural wonders and cultural traditions of the Cayman Islands, participants foster an appreciation and respect for nature, as well as an understanding of how to be more environmentally responsible.
Call (345) 815 6120 for further details.
Earth Day Clean Up
An annual event in Cayman, the Earth Day Clean Up draws hundreds of volunteers to collect litter and debris from Cayman’s roadsides and beaches. Visit www.caymanchamber.ky to find out when the 2021 event will take place.
Project Grow helps students and teachers learn the principles of gardening through the development of sustainable school gardens, fostering a link to healthy eating and nutritional choices. Project Grow has built gardens in twenty schools across Cayman, teaching children from as young as 3-15 the principles of gardening. All schools are invited to apply and eligible schools are then accepted into the programme.
With hands-on experience, Project Grow allows children to relate growing their own vegetables and herbs to healthy eating. To learn more visit www.caymanprojectgrow.com.
Report Eco Crimes
Cayman's Department of the Environment (DoE) launched a free app called SIREN Cayman to assist the public with reporting eco crimes happening in Cayman's Marine Parks. Help Marine Enforcers protect Cayman's Marine Parks by downloading a handy app called SIREN Cayman. This app allows you to report eco crimes happening in Cayman's fragile Marine Parks, view a map of Cayman's Marine Protected Areas and look up Marine Laws.
With Cayman’s fisheries dwindling due to rapid development, increases in the population and over fishing, eco warriors can help keep Cayman’s fragile Marine Parks safe by reporting poachers or any other challenges that need to be brought to the attention of Marine Enforcers. Want to remain anonymous? Cayman’s Department of the Environment (DoE) launched a free app called SIREN Cayman to assist the public with reporting crimes occurring in Cayman’s Marine Parks. Some of the great features of this app is that it has a map of Cayman’s Marine Protected Areas and handy information about our Marine Laws.
SIREN Cayman can be downloaded to Apple or Android smartphones. Visit your app store or DoE’s website www.doe.ky for more information.
Sargassum on Cayman Beaches
What is Sargassum?
Pelagic sargassum is a brown alga, or seaweed that floats free in the ocean and never attaches to the ocean floor. These free-floating forms are only found in the Atlantic Ocean. Sargassum provides refuge for migratory species and essential habitat for some 120 species of fish and more than 120 species of invertebrates. It’s an important nursery habitat that provides shelter and food for endangered species such as sea turtles and for commercially important species of fish such as tuna.
Sargassum occurs naturally on beaches, albeit in smaller quantities. It plays a role in beach nourishment and is an important element of shoreline stability. During decomposition there will inevitably be a smell and insects around. The experience in locations that have left the sargassum on the beach is that it will eventually get washed away or buried in the next storm, with rain easing the smell. Leaving sargassum on the beach has proven to be the simplest and lowest cost approach, also helping to nourish the beach and stabilize the shoreline.
What can I do with it?
Sargassum can be used as mulch or compost – allow salt to wash out in the rain and mix with manure and soil. Collected sargassum can also be usefully redistributed in areas affected by beach erosion. But care is needed in how this is done to avoid impacting sea turtle nesting and bird nesting habitat.
What can I / should I do about it?
- It is always preferable to leave sargassum where it is, if possible. Where this is not possible or feasible, the guidelines below should be followed.
- Removal of sargassum by mechanical means cannot be undertaken without consultation with the DoE and issuance of a letter of approval, which will outline any conditions to be followed. In some instances it may be necessary for a member of DoE staff to be present to check for wildlife e.g. turtle nests, prior to any clearing;
- Least intrusive practices are preferred – hand raking is preferable to machinery.
- Permission is not required from DOE for raking the beach.
- Extreme care should be taken during turtle nesting and hatching season, with peak activity spanning from May to November.
- Removal of sargassum should be from and to agreed areas only, and equipment should use the same route on to and off the beach to prevent destroying beach vegetation or turtle nests;
- Any attempts to clean Sargassum must be undertaken extremely carefully as its removal can have a very destabilizing effect on beaches and can result in worsened erosion through the removal of sand, particularly if machinery is used.