Overrides for Yida’s beaches met with criticism

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the government will apply its legal authority to override prohibitions in the laws protecting the environmentally sensitive Yida development site to make way for beach creation among other activities.
His statement to OBSERVER media, made during an interview on Monday came a month and two weeks after Minister of Information Melford Nicholas declared that the administration was not considering giving such overrides.
“We have since agreed to a limited amount [of mangroves] to allow for the creation of maybe a couple of beaches. On that basis I’m told that they are moving forward,” Browne said.
Browne’s statement has met with dissent from several well-known advocates for the observance and preservation of the North East Marine Management Area (NEMMA) – the site of Yida International Investment (Antigua) Limited’s multimillion dollar mixed leisure-industrial development.
Marine Biologist John Mussington is questioning whether the Act that created and which governs the NEMMA – the Fisheries Act 2006 – actually allows the government to exercise override authority in this instance.
Section 53 (1) of the Fisheries Act allows the minister to declare a site a marine reserve as was done in the case of the NEMMA. Section 53 (2) of the Act prohibits fishing, destruction of flora or fauna, disturbing the natural environment or construction within such a reserve.
Section 53 (3) deals with the authority to override. It states: “The Minister, or a person authorised by him in writing, may give written permission to do any of the things prohibited under this section where the doing of such things may be required for the proper management of the reserve…”
Fisherman and environmentalist Eli Fuller also pointed to the law and what actions qualify for override.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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