I have been buoyed by the surprising reactions to my most recent letters in the media and it has made me realise that there are people who really, really care about our beautiful island.
I first came to Antigua as a visitor and was struck dumb by the sheer beauty of the island and colour of the sea. Turquoise and sparkling, clear and clean it was. To this day I never tire looking at it and admiring its beauty. Yet, 20-odd years later, here I am no longer a visitor but as a resident and fighting for a cause some might say is not mine to fight. Some say “me bang water” so what am I doing sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong?
Do you think that our visitors prefer to see parrotfish, snappers, lobsters, etc, or plastics and metals when they snorkel around our reefs? If one is allowed the freedom to rape, plunder and destroy our sea creatures, better believe that our visitors will be disappointed and may decide not to return to our shores.
Some of us would point fingers at our government ministers and declare that they are not doing their jobs. The question is: are you doing your job? Are you doing your bit to protect the island you claim to love so much from people who are bent on destroying it regardless of consequences?
Let’s go to the other side of the world: Australia is considering closing off part of the Great Barrier Reef to all types of fishing in an effort to protect the reef. They get over two million visitors to the reef each year driving an eco-economy that has been estimated to top one billion dollars annually.
This huge playground for marine life comprising of thousands of individual reefs and islands, is also home to billions of tiny organisms and fish that have made these reefs the way they are to this day. Part of the reef is protected under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
As in Antigua, there needs to be a system of balance for all concerned. We need to find a balance in order to preserve our islands, our world and our marine animals. We have to put actions in place to benefit all parties. Would closing off certain areas during the year help protect our sea life?
Certainly, it will be a step in the right direction. So whether me bang water or not, the fact remains that I live here and have a responsibility to keep this beautiful island protected from human sharks.