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History of the Department of Environment

Originally established in 1984 as the Natural Resources Unit (a section of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit), the Cayman Islands Department of Environment now comprises some thirty-seven full-time members of staff, including operations support and research personnel.

Initially focused on the protection of the Marine Environment, the Department was instrumental in establishing the Marine Conservation Regulations in 1986.

These regulations were ground-breaking in their time, tailoring specific levels of protection to the islands’ most sensitive marine areas. This included the creation of Marine Parks and Environment Zones, in which public activities were strictly regulated. Replenishment Zones were set aside from normal fishing practices, with the primary objective of providing sanctuary areas for restocking of commercial species, and preventing over-exploitation.

In tandem with the creation of these protected areas, a team of dedicated Marine Enforcers was assembled, responsible for policing and ensuring compliance with the regulations.

Of course, the implementation of conservation measures and environmental management is not always universally popular. An important challenge of the work of the Department is to educate the public regarding the need to implement sustainable fisheries practice.

The implementation of the National Conservation Law broadens the responsibilities of the Department significantly. The formally extended jurisdiction of the Department covers terrestrial areas, with Conservation Officers responsible for enforcing the Conservation Law on both land and sea.

If you would like to know more about the work of the Department, or would like to get involved in one of our environmental projects, please contact us.

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