By Joe Shooman, email@example.com
Wednesday 30th December, 2009 Posted: 16:47 CIT (21:47 GMT)
A protest against the new Stingray City ‘floating bar’ boat is to take place in Heroes’ Square, George Town on Monday.
A bar boat facility was granted a retail liquor licence and a music and dancing licence at the 10 December Liquor Licensing Board meeting.
The vessel will sail out to anchor and operate in the area of Stingray City, contingent on passing other legal requirements from Department of Environmental Health, Port Authority, Liquor Inspector and the Commissioner of Police.
When musician and artist Natasha Kozaily read the news that was broken by the Caymanian Compass, she said she was ‘upset’.
“Stingray City is a natural place where you can go and be with the stingrays in the wild. It’s a place for children and families to enjoy and interact with nature in the North Sound,” she said.
Ms Kozaily said she initially began writing a letter to the newspaper but as she did so she found herself more ‘riled up’ and decided to be more proactive.
Ms Kozaily said she began talking with her family and immediate friends before using the power of social networking sites like Facebook to find other like–minded people and emailing organisations around Cayman that had the same view about the bar vessel.
“Having spoken to people and seen the letters in the Compass it was obvious that putting a floating bar in this natural environment will pollute the area with all the trash produced. It will also change the whole atmosphere of Stingray City from something that families and tourists can enjoy during the day to somewhere that people go and get drunk.
“Our priority should be protecting stingrays rather than exploiting them, which is what this bar is all about. [The bar is] not a community thing; it’s an individual who will benefit. Stingray City belongs to all Caymanians and it’s sad we did not have a say in this as it’s our national heritage,” she said.
Marva Scott, executive secretary of the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman, said that formal objections to licence applications can be heard by the board at the open meetings providing they are made in writing seven days prior to the date of the relevant quarterly licensing meeting. Subsequently, citizens can contact the board with any concerns.
“If people want to send in their letters after the date of the meeting the board has a right to hear objections. The public can object to any existing license at any time.”
An agenda for the meeting of Thursday 10 December was produced that listed, under item 5a, New Applications, Mr. Bernie Bush – M/V Watering Hole, Cayman Islands Yacht Club, West Bay Road. The application was for a retail liquor licence and a music and dancing licence.
There was no mention of Stingray City or any other location than Cayman Islands Yacht Club as a base or any indication that there would be a floating bar vessel as a centre of operations.
On the agenda of the meeting, an objection to the applications was listed as having been withdrawn.
Of the environmental impact, Mr. Bush said at the time that there would be a clean–up boat attached to the bar boat and that the new bar’s speakers were small enough to be unobtrusive to all but immediate customers.
He explained that his discussions with members of the tourism industry had been positive and that it would be a ‘product that would enhance Stingray City’s operations.’
According to Ms Kozaily, Monday’s rally is scheduled from 12pm to 2pm to ensure people can join on their lunch break and it will take the form of a silent protest. She said it will feature signs, flyers, a petition, actors portraying a drunk and a sunburnt tourist stepping on a stingray, all designed to create a ‘visually dynamic’ impact.
“This kind of protest activity is not really part of our culture, unlike for example France where they are used to protests and strikes. I hope it does become a part of [our culture] because it is a great way of standing up for ourselves and our community.
“My brother who is 10 years old and sister who’s eight will be at the rally – as young Caymanians they will be there doing their part. It’s not only adults but the next generation that care about this,” she added.