AFTER TWO hours of a closed door meeting on Monday among various stakeholders on the hosting of the Tobago Beach Jazz event at Turtle Beach by Rex Resorts on April 29-30, it was decided that the jazz will go ahead as planned.
A way forward on the protection of sea turtles was also a positive outcome of the meeting.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretary of the Environment, Kwesi DesVignes said the meeting was called because of public concerns over the impact of the jazz event on nesting turtles.
DesVignes said while the THA wants to encourage enterprise and entrepreneurship in Tobago, it also has a brand to protect in the Tobago Jazz Experience as well as oversee protection of the island’s ecology and environment.
“We need to ensure that at all times, we keep our environment and the sustainability of our environment at a high level, hold it in high regard, of course you know that is where we hold our competitive advantage as it regards tourism in particular,” he said.
DesVignes said what would have come out of the meeting was the way forward regarding the protection of the turtles which nest on the island’s beaches between March to September annually.
“…there has to be a set policy moving forward and today, we would have outlined a process that we all agreed to and that we can also adapt going forward for all events, not only at Turtle Beach but also beaches across Tobago as long as the environmentally friendly species (turtles) is called into question or they are being disturbed or disrupted in any way,” he said.
As for the jazz event, he said he was comfortable that the impact on nesting turtles would be minimal. “I think that is one of the things that we have been missing… today a lot of facts would have been laid on the table. I am very comfortable that we are able to get the facts out. The event is not on the beach … a fence was erected more than a month ago in consultation with SOS Tobago so, we are comfortable that the event is not on the beach and that there are several mitigative measures being taken that would ensure that there is minimal impact,” he said.
EMA’s representative Gillian Stanisclaus said the EMA was satisfied with the measures that promoters of Tobago Beach Jazz have/are putting put in place – fencing to prevent human traffic on the beach, arrangements with SOS to have patrols, with help from the Forestry Department, lighting and sound.
SOS Tobago’s representative Tanya Clovis said she was pleased the EMA and the THA facilitated discussion on the impact on the turtles of the jazz event.
“We are actually looking forward to this process being repeated for all events on Turtle Beach going forward. Everyone who expressed concerns about this event, we appreciate their concern and we also recognise that there are a lot of events that cause a great deal of concern to us as well as to the general public during the nesting season at Turtle Beach,” Clovis said.