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TCMP seeking to regularize operations – Belmar

TCMP  seeking to regularize operations – Belmar

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Chairman of the Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP), Herman Belmar, says that the institution is in no way trying to take away the livelihood of the residents of Mayreau, rather, they are regularizing operations in the area.

Belmar, speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on Monday, from his office in Bequia, {{more}}was responding to allegations made by a group of Mayreau residents, who on Friday picketed the TCMP office on Union Island.

The residents were protesting a letter sent by the TCMP to New York based Mayreau resident Nigel Forde, advising him to remove moorings installed at Salt Whistle Bay, in order to facilitate the installation of moorings which had been prescribed by TCMP officials.

“So, we have not taken away anybody’s livelihood, as they said, and we are not removing the moorings from the bay, but we are regularizing the moorings,” Belmar, who is also deputy director of Grenadines Affairs, told SEARCHLIGHT.

“These people were informed many months before that we were upgrading the moorings in the Park and they had to remove their illegal moorings from the Tobago Cays Marine Park,” he stated.

Mayreau resident Munroe Forde, a spokesperson for the residents, also communicated with SEARCHLIGHT on Monday, and indicated that the residents decided to beseige the Park office last Friday, in an act of protest against the request of the TCMP board.

He said that the letter, which was delivered on November 21, gave the businessman one week to remove the moorings and did not give persons who made a living through the moorings enough time to seek alternative means of income.

“Our stand is that we have people here in Mayreau who are making a living from the operation of those moorage and Mayreau is a very small community and we don’t have a lot in terms of where jobs are concerned and for them to survive on; its mostly tourism and fishing….

“Jobs are already limited, people are finding alternative ways of making money and then they just want to come in and practically take the employment from these people away.”

Forde said that prior to the letter being delivered, there had been no communication from the TCMP of their intentions.

Moorings are used by yachties as an alterative to anchoring their yachts, and are considered more secure. The boat owners are charged a daily fee for using the moorings.

Forde is of the opinion that consultations should have been held before the decision was made to have the moorings removed, and alternative measures put in place to secure employment for the people.

“They should have had dialogue, and then let us come together and find a way to work along with each other that would be in the benefit of everybody, instead of just throwing them out and taking employment from the people,” Forde suggested.

Belmar on the other hand, said that communication was passed on to the moorings operators some months before, by manager of the TCMP Kenneth Williams.

“There were two operators at that time, one operator removed his mooring and Mr Forde continued to operate his moorings without any regard to the notice which was given by the manager of the Park; since this persisted, we officially wrote to Mr Forde….

“….Now they are bringing additional burden on tourism because they are charging $60 for a mooring while the Park fees are $45, and secondly…, remember that the responsibility of the Marine Park is to monitor and to control and to be concerned about environmental degradation. Protection and preservation is our business, not making money first and foremost.

“The number of moorings within the Saltwhistle Bay in particular, are too many for that area,” he added.

“There are so many moorings in the area that basically if you drop your anchor, you will be entangling with somebody’s mooring. And if you are going to anchor, you will have to anchor out in the deep water, which is not very comfortable.

“There are a number of yachts, they bump into each other, they create problems for each other, and there’s the waste water, so we have to be very concerned about that, because we are concerned with the preservation of that area.”

Belmar said that the moorings were illegal, because they were being operated within the confines of the Marine Park, and that the TCMP were the ones who were responsible for managing whatever happens in the area.

He said that he spoke to the businessman by telephone when he delivered the correspondence, and informed him that there is room for dialogue.

“I had written to him indicating to him I am leaving the window open, but we are not going to be negotiating on your moorings from which we do not know the integrity of the moorings, but we will be installing the moorings as prescribed by the technical people at the Park, and then when we have the moorings installed, we can leave the window for negotiations open for you; in terms of possibly managing it and continue his livelihood, but there would be no confirmation on that until January when the Board meets.”

Belmar stated that up to press time Monday, the moorings had not been removed from Salt Whistle Bay, and that the board of the TCMP would respond accordingly.