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No exclusive zone on Canouan – says PM

No exclusive zone on Canouan – says PM

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The Prime Minister has denied that an “exclusive zone” has been established on Canouan that will hinder public beach access for residents and visitors who come by yacht.

This denial came after Member of Parliament for the Southern Grenadines Terrence Ollivierre posed questions of its existence following the temporary installment of a blockade of buoys at L’Anse Guyac beach in early January.{{more}}

Speaking on The New Times radio programme on Nice Radio yesterday, Ollivierre said that he had been “reliably informed” that the exclusive zone had been established since November 2015, and that an official document regarding such had been signed by the Prime Minister and one of the investors at Canouan Resort Development Ltd (CRD).

“All this noise is being made, and not one answer from the Government… Nothing is being said – why?” he questioned.

“You not only affecting people who want to come there for recreational purposes. You’re affecting the fishermen, the yacht people who come and anchor around here, the business community and all of that… You’re creating a whole chain of problems for quite a number of people!”

It was recently reported that a CRD investor had blocked off sea access to the beach in question, where he had built a restaurant.

However, access to the beach was restored on Saturday, January 9, following a meeting between security personnel from CRD, residents of Canouan and David Robin, head of the local Maritime Agency.

Ollivierre further expressed: “We are not given any answers… If there is none, why is it so hard to just come and say there isn’t any?

“I was told that they wanted to put up the blockage since during the elections, and they were told no, wait until after the election to put it there…

“Now we have again been reliably informed that those buoys will be going back up again next week.”

He asserted that the people of Canouan are being denied their “constitutional right”, and visitors who come via yacht are being put off returning to the island.

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves reassured locals that an exclusive zone does not exist, and explained that the root issue is one with some visitors who come by yacht.

“There are some problems with catamarans, which contribute very little to the economy, and want to go and interfere with people’s enjoyment. So, the question arose that there is a particular distance in certain bays that a catamaran can’t function – in the same way that’s in the Mustique agreement,” insisted Gonsalves.

“All that happened was the developers put in buoys, when in fact it’s the maritime administration which is supposed to do the notification and the channel which you can come through… It’s not to lock off anybody from entering the beach, you know…

“Beyond a certain point, the catamarans will stay, and they can always come in, they can swim in, snorkel… It’s just regulating the entry into the beach at a particular distance. There are certain other beaches on which it is ‘open sesame’.”

The Prime Minister said that this notification being issued to ‘yachties’ is a temporary thing.

“Our authority with it is to go through a particular charting authority which resides in the United Kingdom. But it will take a few weeks or months for that to happen. So, what you do meanwhile, you put the notification out…”

The Prime Minister claimed that what is fuelling this issue is a case of ‘sour grapes’, perpetuated by a relative of Terrence Ollivierre; and that Ollivierre – even though demanding answers to this issue – had made no attempt to contact him about it.

“The only person who has alerted me was [Canouan resident and social activist] Terry Bynoe a couple weekends ago.”

Gonsalves said that Canouan residents are free to enjoy any of the beaches on the island, as long as they respect the premises and don’t cause any damage. (JSV)