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Nothing threatening about regularising mooring operations in Salt Whistle Bay area – Dr Gonsalves

Nothing threatening about regularising mooring operations in Salt Whistle Bay area – Dr Gonsalves

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has declared that there is nothing threatening about the decision by the Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) board to regularise mooring operations in the Salt Whistle Bay area.{{more}}

While responding on Wednesday to a question posed in Parliament by opposition member for the Southern Grenadines, Terrence Ollivierre, Gonsalves spoke of why

New York resident, Nigel Forde was asked to remove his moorings from the site by the TCMP.

“There is nothing sinister or secret or threatening about the decision of the board and I don’t intend to add or make this a political issue. Who want to make this a political issue can go ahead,” the Prime Minister said.

Employees of Forde staged a protest in front of the TCMP office in November after receiving a letter on their employer’s behalf on November 21, which requested that he remove his moorings in Salt Whistle Bay by November 28.

Gonsalves, who has responsibility for Grenadines affairs highlighted that under legislative framework, the TCMP took the decision to upgrade a number of facilities within the boundaries of the park.

“In September 2013, 19 moorings were replaced in the park in order to provide a reliable and safe facility to visiting yachtsmen with a further 20 currently being installed,” Gonsalves said.

“In the case of Salt Whistle Bay, the moorings established by Mr Forde, to whom the honourable member of the Southern Grenadines refers, those moorings are totally illegal. It is either [that] we are doing things properly or we are not doing them properly.”

The Prime Minister noted that the moorings were installed by Forde without any consultation or authorisation from the park. He said they were made of questionable material which could pose a danger to the marine environment and could endanger the yachting sector.

Additionally, he noted that there were too many moorings in the area, which compromised its carrying capacity.

“Mr Speaker, I’ve been reliably informed as the minister that the Tobago Cays Marine Park board has had numerous complaints from yachtsmen and women on their desk about the lack of privacy and the many instances of yachts bumping into each other due to the overcrowding at Salt Whistle Bay,” Gonsalves said.

“The Tobago Cays Marine Park therefore took the decision to upgrade and regularise the moorings in Salt Whistle Bay as part of the general upgrade. The action taken by the marine park board was to regularise and upgrade the moorings within the boundaries of the marine park as clearly stated in a letter delivered to Mr Forde’s employee and to ensure its security and safety of the operations in the park.”

According to Gonsalves, Forde was informed of the pending changes some months ago and was advised to write to the board of directors to discuss the matter; a step he refused to take.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister mentioned another individual who was told to remove moorings.

“Another individual who operated moorings in the same area received the same message as Mr Forde and this other person removed his moorings more than six months ago,” the Grenadines Affairs Minister said.

“But when the gentleman removed his moorings, rather than Mr Forde taking this as a sign that he should really come to the board, it did the opposite. It galvanised him to install more to replace those that had been removed by the other operator.”

The Prime Minister noted that the yachtsmen are not the only people who have complained about the overcrowding of moorings and that contrary to reports, residents of Mayreau are supportive of the action taken by the board of the TCMP.

“The same honourable member (Terrence Ollivierre) will ask the question here about what is happening with the yachting sector but is choosing the side of someone who wants to subvert the yachting sector for purely personal purposes. I’m sorry to be so strong on this because whilst we are trying to do all these good things for our country and to develop it, there are some people who always trying to take sides with persons who want to mash it up for their own personal interest.”

However, Gonsalves noted that Forde is now in communication with the TCMP board and is negotiating how he can work along with the board following their regularisation exercise.(BK)

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