“To Conserve, manage and enhance critical natural and historical resources of the nation, through a protected area system that promotes knowledge, participation and stewardship by all for all”
Mission Statement - Fisheries Department
“To protect and improve the fisheries through the effective management of fish stocks to promote economic prosperity”
1. To protect and improve the environment and conserve and enhance biodiversity within the Turks and Caicos Islands and to integrate these with other government policies and international policies;
2. To promote more sustainable management and use of natural resources (e.g. fisheries, sand mining and protected areas), with all stakeholders
OVERVIEW OF THE DECR
The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources was established in 1994 following a Civil Service Reformation, which resulted in the amalgamation of the former Departments of Fisheries and Environment, Heritage and Parks. The two departments shared many common objectives consequently their merger was designed to maximize scare resources and enhance the islands’ ability to manage natural resources. However, as early as a year after the merger, it was realized that the fisheries sub-section consumed a considerable amount of the Department’s time and resources and the protected areas were facing serious threats from development and an obvious absence of management.
In 1998 the Governments of the United Kingdom and Turks and Caicos Island entered into a joint venture initiating the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP). The CRMP was specifically mandated to:
- Establish and make operational a self-sustaining National Parks Service
- Establish a fully functioning Environmental Centre
- Implement management plans in three marine parks in Providenciales and West Caicos
- Strengthen the capacity of the National Trust to implement public awareness
The Project operated as a semi-autonomous unit under the Ministry of Natural Resources for four years and focused primarily on building capacity to manage the Protected Areas System. In November 2002 when the project ended, staff and other resources were reabsorbed into the DECR as the Protected Areas sub-department.
The reorganized DECR has management responsibility for commercial fisheries, land based and marine protected areas. The Department also takes the lead in ensuring that all natural resources (both renewable and non-renewable) are utilized in an environmentally sensitive manner. Its remit further extends to include the implementation of international legislation concerned with protecting the environment (MARPOL, Montreal Convention, etc) or the rational utilization of natural resources (CITES, SPAW Protocol, CBD, UNCLOS etc). The DECR also plays an important role in the planning and developmental process, in particular appraisal of developmental proposals, planning applications, and environmental impact statements.
A key objective of the former CRMP was the development of partnerships in managing the country’s resources. To this end, the DECR-PAD has established co-management arrangements with the National Trust in managing some of the protected areas; the Environmental Health Department in monitoring certain aspects of marine pollution; and the watersports operators with management of the mooring buoy system. The DECR also has shared responsibility for the maintenance of navigation equipment, public parks and beach facilities with PWD, inshore search and rescue in conjunction with the Police and the development of the principles of port state control with the Maritime Department.
The Department has its main office in Grand Turk but also maintains offices in South Caicos and Providenciales. As of May 1st, 2005 the DECR centralized its operation in Providenciales at the newly constructed National Environmental Centre, when offices of the Fisheries and Protected Areas combined operations at the building.
Currently, each office has one vehicle and a main patrol boat. In addition, with the incorporation of the resources from the former CRMP, the DECR now maintains a total fleet of nine vessels. Staffing numbers are as follows: Grand Turk 8, Providenciales 13 and South Caicos 5, excluding janitorial staff and beach workers. One vacancy exists for a micro-project officer in the Department.
The DECR is headed by a Director
who has overall responsibility for management of the Department so that its stated goals and purpose are achieved. The Director is charged primarily with the planning and deployment of human and other resources throughout the department and represents the Department to the Permanent Secretary and at inter and intra-governmental meetings. Other functions include budget preparation, coordination and implementation of international legislation and the preparation of Executive Council Papers. The Director is also tasked with the preparation of funding proposals to support the implementation of natural resource management plans, and general conservation and environmental improvement; appraisal of development proposals, development agreements and Environmental Impact Studies. (EIAs). Immediately responsible to the Director is the Deputy Director and the Chief Conservation Officer.
The Deputy Director
is charged primarily with management of the protected areas system as a continuance of the CRMP. This includes specifically preparing and updating management plans for the protected areas, extending management activities throughout the PAS, and collaborating with the Director and NPEAC in managing and monitoring the Conservation Fund. The DD also provides professional support to the Director, in particular input into development proposals, development agreements and EISs. Other duties include the supervision of all staff at the National Environmental Centre. The DD is responsible for revenue collection at the National Environment Centre and assists with the development of the interpretative programs for the Visitors’ Centre. Immediately responsible to the DD are the Parks Manager and Park Wardens, Scientific Officer – Protected Areas, Environmental Officer- Protected Areas.
The Chief Conservation Officer (CCO)/Assistant Director
has principal responsibility for the fisheries, in particular the coordination and implementation of surveillance systems and the scientific monitoring programme for the fisheries. He/She will provide professional support to the Director, including the design and coordination of all enforcement activities, acting as liaison officer between other enforcement agencies (Customs, Immigration, Police), reviewing local legislation and the administrative supervision of all Conservation Officers. The CCO will also liaise with local and international NGOs and research institutions concerning the development of scientific research programmes. The CCO will be responsible for revenue collection at the South Caicos Office. The CCO has a number of legislated duties, which include the issuing of certain types of licenses. Immediately responsible to the CCO are the Deputy Chief Conservation Officer (DCCO), Senior Conservation Officers, Scientific Officer – Fisheries and Environmental Officer - Fisheries.
The Deputy Chief Conservation Officer (DCCO)
supervises the Conservation Officers in effecting surveillance and monitoring operations of the marine banks, processing plants, hotels, restaurants, and airports in accordance with the Fisheries Protection Regulations (1989). The DCCO and Senior Conservation Officers are also tasked with issuing licenses, maintaining registers, distributing public awareness materials, and conducting scheduled maintenance of patrol boats and vehicles. In terms of seniority, the DECR has established a bar system whereby the CCO will have four bars, DCCO three bars, Senior COs two bars and Cos one bar. The system will be extended to the park wardens.
There are three posts of Scientific Officers (SOs).
These officers are responsible for the collection and analysis of data to monitor both resource use and basic environmental parameters. There are two mainstream programmes being developed (i) monitoring of the protected areas, and (ii) monitoring of the fisheries resources. The former programme comprises the following areas for monitoring: coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass, water quality, dive statistics, and beaches. Scientific programmes for the fisheries include analysis of catch and effort data, size frequency, recruitment index, and fish abundances in an effort to develop an accurate maximum sustainable yield [MSY]. These Officers will also spearhead programmes such as habitat mapping, GIS and monitor research programmes developed externally and carried out in the TCI.
Two Environmental Officers
provide direct support to the SOs. These officers will be directly involved in the collection and entry of scientific data, maintaining databases and assisting in the preparation of scientific reports. The EO will also take the lead in public awareness and environmental education in the DECR and will collaborate with the Environmental Education Officer of the National Trust in implementing educational programmes throughout the TCI. The Parks Manager oversees the day-to-day operation of the protected areas system, in particular the marine parks. His primary responsibilities include the enforcement of the National Parks Regulations, maintenance of park equipment and infrastructure and the development of co-management programmes in the PAS; Co-ordinate and work with the different stakeholder groups, assist with the scientific monitoring programmes, and the educational programmes; and assist with tasks associated with the interpretative section of the National Environmental Centre. Issuing National Parks Licenses.
The Park Manager
supervises five park wardens, all of whom are based in Providenciales. The park wardens are at the forefront of the protected areas with primary responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of park management programmes. It is the job of the park wardens to maintain all park equipment and infrastructure such as boats, engines, mooring markers, buoys and other facilities. Park wardens are also tasked with providing assistance to the Scientific Officers, information to visitors to the parks and guided tours of the Environmental Centre.
is the chief operating and administrative position for the National Environment Centre. The Curator plans, directs, promotes and implements the Centre’s interpretive and educational programs. He will develop the exhibit programme at the NEC with the widest possible audience. The Curator is directly responsible to the Director.
The following Officers provide administrative support to the DECR:
i. Administrative Officer, based in Grand Turk- Responsible for maintaining the accounts of the DECR, including transactions from the Conservation Fund; procurement of supplies; supervision of junior administrative staff and secretarial support to the Director
ii. Executive Officer provides administrative support to Deputy Director and other staff at the NEC. Duties involve processing invoices from the Conservation Fund; visitor relations; light typing, filing and procurement of supplies for the office.
iii. Two clerical officers, one is based in Grand Turk and the other in South Caicos.
The Department is assisted by two committees, which provide a forum for private sector input and cross-departmental discussion and initiatives. The National Parks Environmental Advisory Committee (NPEAC) provides inputs on the management of protected areas and issues of environmental concern. The Fisheries Advisory Committee provides advice on the management of the commercial fisheries. The NPEAC also has direct responsibility for management of the Conservation Fund and the operation of the Community Conservation Grants, initiated under the former CRMP. The Community Conservation Grants (CCG) formerly known as The Micro Projects Programme, is designed to develop private-public partnerships in promoting and managing the environment. Approximately 20 % of the Conservation Fund is allocated to the CCG and is made available to organizations/persons wanting to implement projects that would benefit the environment.
THE NATIONAL TRUST
The DECR and the National Trust have a longstanding relationship, the Trust having been established simultaneously with the enactment of the National Parks Regulations in 1992. Originally, it was intended that the National Trust would be the independent body to manage the protected areas system; however, this institutional arrangement never materialized. The relationship between the Trust and the DECR however became more closely defined under the former CRMP, when the CRMP financed the appointment of an Environmental Education Officer (EEO). The EEO was responsible for promoting the environment and acting as a liaison officer between the Department, the National Trust and the Public. Specifically the EEO, in collaboration with the staff of the CRMP were responsible for assessing and coordinating environmental education in schools, the design of public information literature (monthly newsletter, posters, leaflets, etc.) acting as a press officer for newspaper, radio and TV releases, designing and holding public meetings and seminars for resource users (eg fishermen, teachers, dive operators, etc.) and sensitizing the general public on environmental matters. The for CRMP thus strengthened the existing public awareness and environmental education programmes of the National Trust, a role the Trust continues to pilot.
THE CONSERVATION FUND
A self-financing revenue system was instituted as an obligation of the Government of the TCI for the implementation of CRMP. This system known, as the Conservation Fund receives 1% of the Accommodation Tax and is used specifically to fund the operations of the Protected Areas Department. Funding from the Conservation Fund is also used to finance the operation of the NEC and the Community Conservation Projects.