'Tobago Beach Jazz' gets green light to be held inside Turtle Beach hotel

Monday, April 3, 2017 - 21:15

The 'Tobago Beach Jazz' event will be allowed to continue at the Rex Resort on Turtle Beach in Tobago.

This follows a meeting with all stakeholders today.

The agreement came after the promoter agreed to measures to ensure that the event does not affect the turtles nesting on the beach.

The event if not being hosted by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and is not part of the Tobago Jazz Festival's schedule of events.

The following is a statement by the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment.

"The establishment of an approach in the protection of environmentally sensitive species and the use of beaches in Tobago for events was one of the major outcomes of a joint stakeholder meeting facilitated by the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment (DIQE) today 3rd April, 2017.

Protection of the sea turtle, particularly at nesting sites was at the forefront of the discussion.

In the first instance and in the absence of clear legislative guidelines, this approach would see a greater level of collaborative planning for beach events between promoters and stakeholders present, as well as other Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). Development of policy is anticipated.

Represented at the meeting were Councillor Kwesi DesVignes, Chairman and Secretary (DIQE); Linford Beckles, Director of the Department of Environment, John Arnold, Chairman TJE; Leslie Amedee, Manager of Turtle Beach Hotel; Gillian Stansiclaus, Environment Programme Officer II, Environment Management Authority; and Tanya Clovis, Save Our Sea Turtle (SOS) Tobago.  

It was revealed that the ‘Tobago Beach Jazz’, which is being promoted independently by the Turtle Beach Hotel is a fringe event, and is not a part of the Tobago Jazz Experience (TJE) of the Assembly. Further, ‘Tobago Beach Jazz’ would be hosted on the compound of the facility and not the beach as previously reported.

Mitigation measures were considered and put in place prior to today’s meeting with a view to protect nesting turtles, given the proximity of the event to the habitat and potential interest such activity may generate. One such measure, included the cordoning off of the event from the beach, instituted following consultation by the Hotel’s Management with SOS; the turtle advocacy group.

Agreements, over which all parties presents were comfortable are as follows:

1. Joint patrols of the beaches before, during and after the event to be done by SOS, Department of Forestry and the Environmental Police;

2. Restriction of access to the beach from the event;

3. All lighting and sound to be directed away from the beach;

4. A light assessment at the Turtle Beach Hotel is to be conducted;

5. Information, signage and other marketing efforts on of the protective species are to be distributed and/or installed;

6. Public announcements by artistes and host during the event;

7. The use and promotion of green alternative food packaging;

8. Plastic recycling collection instituted at event; and

9. The prompt cessation of audio, lighting and other festivities at the end of the event.

These actions outlined for ‘Tobago Beach Jazz’ would serve as precedence for all other beach-related events for which issues of protecting sensitive species arise.

As the Assembly strives to a forge a balance in meeting the environmental and social needs, it holds as priority, three major values and concerns; the protection of the Tobago Jazz Event (TJE) Brand; the promotion of business entrepreneurship; and 3 most importantly, ecological preservation, a value at the centre of Tobago’s competitive advantage.

Overall, the Assembly, as facilitator in the process looks forward to continued and productive collaboration with all stakeholders; the overarching goal being the sustainable protection of the environment in accordance with the Environment Management Act of 2000."