I am calling on the relevant authority to do something about the Social Community group that goes by the name of S.P.E.C.T.O . which operates on the Atlantic Beach at Levera in the northern part of Grenada.
This area has been the chief nesting site for the Leather Back Turtle which has been coming onto that beach for million of years.
I remembered persons used to go there and indiscriminately kill the huge leatherback turtles, which are hundreds of pounds and only take ten lbs leaving the rest of this huge creature there to perish.
This practice continued for years until there was greater awareness of the species being depleted thus making it endangered specie.
This gave rise to the international conversation group Ocean Spirit from the UK coming to Grenada and starting to give serious conservation and protection to these wonderful creatures.
This was done voluntarily and soon started to attract volunteers from all over the world.
These folks went out into the elements all night taking statistical data, measuring, as well as transferring the eggs to unmarked sports so that poachers will not find them.
At the time, there were over five tour companies that constantly took hotels guest to this site during the nesting season which starts officially on April 1st and runs until the end of June beginning of July.
These tour companies would have paid fees to the Ocean Spirit group, which would have helped them to purchased T-Shirts and other accessories that they would have needed.
They operated as a truly non-profit organisation until a few years ago when a few persons from that community decided to form themselves into a group calling themselves S.P.E.C.T.O.
The people involved in this new group consulted with some of the politicians thus giving them some strength and impetus.
However, they started to conduct tours as a community group by providing tour guides to explain the turtles and this started to antagonize the original conservation group named Ocean Spirit based on certain practices.
SPECTO started to charge the tour operators a ridiculous fee of 20.00 USD per person once they came from the hotels. Remember, the guests had to travel over twenty-seven miles to get to the Levera beach at night.
So too the local population – they were not spared the rod. Could you imagine how intoxicated this group became by the money they were charging.
This group did not even have mercy on our Grenadian students who were going to do research for their SBA Social Base Assessment for their own educational advancement for CXC programmes.
Other Grenadians and our own people from the Diaspora were turned away from the beach due to the high cost for them as Grenadians to see the turtles.
This group became very fanatical because they were told by one of the unrealistic technocrats within the Ministry of Fisheries – driven by environmental laws – to don’t give permission to anyone to visit that beach, thus ignoring Grenadians constitutional, and democratic rights.
A lot of Grenadians have been complaining about the problem and the kind of attitude of that group and in particular a specific family who heads this group.
The group has been trying to justify its action by saying that they are involved in community activities. I am in no way trying to say that this group is not in fact involved in community work.
But it is disproportionately small and inequitable compared with the volume of monies made by that group from the turtle funds within the four plus months of the turtle-watching season.
I am calling on government to intervene and don’t continue to allowthis group to collect government funds under the pretext of being a community group which claims that it s giving back to the community.
A ticket system should have been issued just like the Parks and Waterfalls as part of the Grenada tourism product by Fisheries.
In my opinion, these funds are grossly mismanaged at a time when the country does not have money.
This group has even gone so far by isolating the most knowledgeable person who had done foreign training, Dora Hypolite.
What I want to say is that much more can be done for the benefit of the people of St Patrick’s from funds collected by this group.
Remember, St. Patrick is the parish that has been pronounced as the poorest of all the parishes in Grenada. It is time Grenada stop those clandestine operations with the country’s resources.
There is very high tension between SPECTO and the original group, Ocean Spirit who is concerned about the conservation of these endangered turtles. SPECTO is more concerned about the money.
Up till now, SPECTO cannot even erect a little shed for when it’s raining at nighttime for people to get a shelter. What about investing in some rain cats? Who is fooling whom?