North Side’s no dive zone dispute rages on.
Opposition Leader Hon. Ezzard Miller said his request is simple enough: mark the boundaries for all to see. But he said what appears on the official marine parks map does not match up with landmarks he told Cayman 27 are supposed to be the boundaries.
The Department of Environment’s current marine parks brochure details the western no dive zone boundaries as west of 928 Rum Point drive to 330 feet west of Chisholm’s supermarket.
The eastern no dive zone boundaries are listed as from the east of Robinson Crusoe condo to opposite Rosebud Dr.
The DOE’s and Mr. Miller’s versions of the boundaries are understood to be hundreds of feet apart, and the future of four dive sites, including the internationally famous Babylon could be lost if the lines are redrawn. This morning, Mr. Miller showed me each of the four landmarks he said are the proper no dive zone boundaries.
“That big black rock,” said Mr. Miller. “That’s the landmark for the western boundary of the eastern no dive zone.”
Traipsing through the bush in his district of North Side, Opposition Leader Hon. Ezzard Miller showed Cayman 27 his version of the disputed no dive zone boundaries.
“This dive site and this boundary was always in contention, because it is also very popular fishing spot at night, this is the boundary that was always in contention,” said Mr. Miller, standing at the entrance shore divers traverse to reach the world-famous Babylon by shore.
“People have been diving Babylon since the 60’s and now all of a sudden it’s part of the no dive zone? It’s ridiculous,” said Ocean Frontiers’ Steve Broadbelt.
Showing Cayman 27 an actual magazine photo cover taken by Alex Mustard, Mr. Broadbelt said these cover shots have helped propel Babylon to international acclaim.
He said the no dive zone coordinates should remain as published in the marine conservation regulations, and proposed a different management strategy.
“The concept of no dive zones in general should be abolished,” said Mr. Broadbelt. “You need a plan to manage all 365 dive sites, to manage the capacity, have quotas on how many divers or snorkelers can visit in an area, and then shut it down and rest it, and then re-open it when it is appropriate.”
“All I want is a marker here on the roadside, a marker in the sea surf, and a marker on the drop-off. Simple. That’s all I’ve been asking for since 1988,” said Mr. Miller.
He insisted adamantly he is first and foremost calling for the boundaries to be properly marked, and did indicate some flexibility over the issue of eliminating dive sites.
“Now listen, if we need to adjust this to that big rock there in order to keep Babylon out,” he said, pointing to the west of the bushes he maintains are the shore based marker. “Let’s sit down and talk it, mark the no dive zone, end of story.”
Mr. Broadbelt said it’s a big enough ocean for everyone to enjoy.
“There’s no reason why all the different user groups can’t use these same natural resources. The solution is not just shutting it down,” said Mr. Broadbelt. “If we’re going to be stuck with no dive zones, they need to stay where they are, they don’t need expanding.”
“It’s a lie to tell the people that I am trying to increase the no dive zone, that’s an outright lie and they know it,” said Mr. Miller.
In parliament last week Mr. Miller asked minister Dwayne Seymour if he would instruct the DOE to mark the no dive zone boundaries to his specifications, to which the minister said ‘consider it done.’
The DOE said any change to the no-dive zones would require amendment of the marine conservation regulation by Cabinet.
“Shifting the zones, or marking and enforcing areas which have never been designated as no-dive zones is not something the department of environment can undertake on its own initiative,” said DOE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie in a statement last week.