JET SKIS: YES OR NO? Haydn Hughes: “If the Public Says No, It’s No. If Yes, It’s Yes”

anguillian
By anguillian October 3, 2014 09:15

 

 

Members of the public at consultation

Members of the public at consultation

DSC_6884The above is a question that the Government of Anguilla has to answer after a series of public consultations on the recently-published Draft Personal Watercraft (Jet Ski) Policy, the first of which was held at the Central Baptist Church at Rey Hill, on Tuesday evening, September 30.

The policy document was, to a large extent, explained by Mr Foster Rogers, Permanent Secretary, Economic Development, Industry, Commerce and Tourism, who was supported by members of staff involved in registration and note-taking.

In addition to concerns expressed by the audience about the inherent dangers of jet skis to the riders themselves, swimmers and other beachgoers, as well as the resulting noise pollution, a number of questions were put forward by various persons. Summed up, these questions included:
• How financially viable will be the jet ski operations, given that only four licences would be issued to operators at the four proposed locations: Crocus Bay, Long Bay, Forest Bay and the southern side of Road Bay?
• How will the jet ski operations be effectively policed?
• Is there a Government budget to finance the requirement for police and other security services to oversee the jet ski operations and for the necessary patrol boats?
• Is there any consideration to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment?

Mr Foster Rogers

Mr Foster Rogers

Hon Haydn Hughes

Hon Haydn Hughes

• Is the deadline of October 24, for the submission of views and comments to Government from the public, sufficient time before the Government moves forward with plans to repeal the Jet Ski Prohibition Act, and to enact the required enabling legislation and regulations?
• Has the Government considered the fact that while it seeks to legalise jet skis to operate in Anguilla’s waters, other tourist destinations have outlawed, or are in process of outlawing, them?
• Is the proposed legalising of jet ski operations not in conflict with Anguilla’s upmarket tourism industry and, indeed, the recently-crafted Sustainable Tourism Master Plan?
While these and other questions were voiced by the majority of persons, a few Anguillian young men spoke about the need for jobs and the contribution to employment which they thought such a water sport was likely to provide.
Mr Rogers pointed out a number of areas of the draft policy which could explain some of the concerns raised by the speakers. On the question of additional time for the submission of comments and views, he undertook to bring the matter to the attention of the Government to find out whether or not that extension could be granted.
Mr Haydn Hughes, Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism, turned up at the consultation just as it was being wrapped up by the Permanent Secretary, who invited him to deliver some remarks. “As it relates to the discussion on jet skis, I have read a lot of the comments on the social media, in particular, on some of the pages that were created either for or against jet skis,” Mr Hughes stated. “You get a sense that this is something that the Government is going to shove down in people’s throat whether they want it or not. That is not the case. This is what democracy is all about. This is bringing an issue to the public for the public’s input … I have said it and will say it, again: ‘If the public says no, then it is no. If the public says yes, then it’s yes.”’
The Parliamentary Secretary said, however, that Anguilla had the largest span of territorial waters in the entire Caribbean, as well as a number of cays and beaches. He continued: “I know there were some areas that were proposed for the jet ski operations, but I cannot imagine that there is not one place around Anguilla, or in Anguilla – if you have to dredge a pond and turn it into a water park – that there is no place around Anguilla, fifty miles, a hundred miles away (I am just being silly here), that we cannot look into the possibility” [of operating jet skis].
Mr Hughes hoped that out of the passion expressed by the speakers against jet skis that there could be “the same type of mobilisation – not only of the people of Anguilla, but visitors, in looking at resources and how we can tackle the serious issues of crime and economic opportunities.”

He added that he was not saying that jet skiing was the answer to some of Anguilla’s economic opportunities, “but all of us need to look collectively … and come up with ideas in order to grow this economy”.

anguillian
By anguillian October 3, 2014 09:15

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