Friday 4 December, 2020

Access permits now needed for Buccoo Reef tour boats

Access permits will now be needed for tour vessels operating in the Buccoo Reef Marine Park, according to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

The THA said in a statement that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Tobago House of Assembly and the Store Bay Reef Operators Association during the official re-opening of the Buccoo Reef Marine Park at the Store Bay Beach Facility on July 6, 2020.

‘Yesterday’s formal re-opening of the Marine Park saw the introduction of a system whereby all potential vessels operating in the area must obtain permission in the form of an Access Permit issued by the Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries, which signalled to members of the public that the Marine Park will now be managed in a controlled and sustainable manner.’

The THA said the MoU contained aspects of the Buccoo Reef Marine Park User Policy which represents an overall strategic plan to regularize how the site is utilized, protected and sustainably managed to ensure visitor safety, financial sustainability and ecological protection.

The THA said the development of the Buccoo Reef Marine Park User Policy was spearheaded by the Division of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries, in collaboration with the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, the Store Bay Reef Operators Association and several other key stakeholders.

In his Address, Chief Secretary and Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, the Honourable Ancil Dennis applauded all stakeholders, including the 18 reef boat owners and operators, for supporting the newly implemented policies.

‘Tobago must be in a position so that it can compete with any Tourism Destination in the Caribbean. Based on what we have here, our natural resources, our natural beauty and the warmth of our people, we are better than most, and as good as any in the Caribbean.”

He added: ‘We must ensure that we continue to collaborate, provide the requisite leadership and remain united. More than our own personal agendas, we must always ensure that we see the bigger picture, which is Tobago. And of course, Tobago must continue to develop Beyond Ordinary.’

Secretary of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries, Assemblyman Hayden Spencer, gave a brief history of the development of the Marine Park and paid homage to some of the pioneers who worked throughout the years to ensure that the Marine Park User Policy became a reality.

He also made an appeal for the sites to be used carefully and preserved for future generations.

The THA said the formal proceedings concluded with an official ribbon cutting and handing over of the refurbished Buccoo Reef Ticketing Booth.

Dennis also took part in a tour of the Buccoo Reef Marine Park and a Scuba dive at Kariwak Reef in Store Bay.

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