Sunday, December 27, 2009

new catamaran goes out for a cruise.

A1Marine in Jolly Harbour has spend the past few weeks helping us get the Dolphin ready for tours and charters. Dolphin is Adventure Antigua's new sailing catamaran. Today we are taking her out on a test cruise to see how the modifications work. Tours on the new Catamaran will start up the first week of January 2010. We will have several half day trips and several full day snorkeling cruises as well. The boat will spend most of the week based in Dian Bay on the Verandah dock and will take passengers from The Grand Pineapple Beach Resort and Spa as well as the Verandah Resort and Spa. More info and photos to come soon!
http://www.adventureantigua.com/

Friday, December 18, 2009

Interesting question to us about our tours and my reply

On Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 10:03 PM, !@!#@#@$$#$%$ wrote:

Hello,


My name is"""""""""""""and my husband and I will be travelling to Antigua from the $%^%$#%$%$. I have been reading your blog and I am very saddened by what it seems is happening to local tour companies there. My husband and I usually go on trips to places where we can try in some small way to support local businesses. We usually stay in smaller places, lodges and eco-resorts. We would like to book with your company precisely because it is smaller and seems to hire more local people. We are sorry we will not be there for one of the classic sailing tours, but have been getting information from Nell about dates and the other tours. (She is very helpful and answers e-mail very quickly.) We are going paddling on the 23rd and thus the 22nd and 24th are days available for us. I was going to book the Xtreme Tour, but I wish to ask about the trip to Stingray City. I am, however, a bit uncomfortable going to a place that seems to fence in rays? I am not wishing to be rude or presumptuous. Might you be able to tell me if they do any preservation work or are affiliated with any such group? The other option for us is the Eco-Tour, but we were reading on Tripadvisor that there is a one-two hour trip once on the boat to pick up people from other hotels. We will already be driving for nearly one hour in and back each way so we wonder if this review was accurate? Thanks for the specifics. It will help us choose tomorrow if you are able to e-mail back.
There are still many people who travel and look for companies like yours. There is a niche for smaller companies with better service and a focus on local development, I think. The information on your blog would be helpful on other sites such as antigua-nice, I think, where I also looked for info, or on Tripadvisor, if you could somehow manage this. I really wish you success in mobilizing locals and politians to act. Ultimately they would be helping, supporting and protecting Antiguans, I think.


Sincerely,
@#@#@!####$$!@ in Toronto

Hi there! Thanks so much for taking the time to email. Two very good questions, but the answers to them may still make it hard for you to decide. Here goes (Xtreme Tour): Stingray City originally used a fence to keep the rays in for several reasons. See here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/antiguan/237351819/in/photostream/


The main one was that it takes a few months for rays to be conditioned A.K.A "tamed" into feeding. They are just like Pavlov's dogs. If they even hear the boat engine they come around expecting food. The guys there fed these enclosed fish four or five times a day until they just were conditioned into expecting it. While this was going on there were several alleged attempts to sabotage the business by another operator close by. The cruise ship excursion industry (which i am happy not to be directly involved in up to now) is even worse than the hotel excursion industry. Anyway, they kept the fence there and ended up putting a security shack there. Each night one of the park's employees would sit in the shack keeping watch. Check the image here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/antiguan/237351703/ They then made a policy of only hiring people from the nearest village where all the fishermen in the area come from and everyone kept an eye out for it. Since then they have removed the shack and have also removed the fence. In the jellyfish season (summer time) moon jellyfish can now come into the area. That was another cool thing about the fence, but moon's are not that bad anyway. For now there is a swim line like you see at hotels which is just a line with floats on it to keep the swimmers contained within a perimeter. The rays are free to swim and go wherever they want, but always return at feeding time to get an easy meal.

A few other things to remember is that southern stingrays are fish which are not endangered or threatened at all unlike tuna for example (many of which will probably be extinct within the next 20 years). However in Antigua, people still eat rays and many are caught accidentally as by catch in nets. You can read more about that here in one of my blogs on netting and another on the North East Marine Management Area which is where many rays are killed (and also where stingray city is). Stingray City does quite a bit of community work including environmental cleanups other things like that. They are always willing to help me in any campaign or activist work that I suggest. They are also members of the Environmental Awareness Group. Anyway, if you need more info on any of this you can email me again.

OK. Info on Eco Tour concerns: The Eco Tour starts in Jolly Harbour at 9:15 am with the first pickup. You tour out through the huge marina and cruise out into Mosquito cove passing Pearns Point. Here you can usually see Montserrat and it's very active volcano as well as Redonda in the west. On clear days you will also see Nevis and on extra clear days you can see St. Kitts and Guadeloupe too. Anyway, you then cruise past the beautiful Five Islands Harbour, Pinchin Bay and then you see the unusual and very interesting Hawksbill Rock just outside the hotel with the same name. Of course one of their four beaches is the famous Nude Beach where you can find Captain JD and Captain Tony getting all over tans each week. (hahahahaha) We occasionally collect there guests here as well as some from Galley Bay. This is at about 9:25 am. Then we cruise out past the next point and past Galley Bay. We get a good view of the beautiful Deep Bay with it's old wreck (Andes 1905) just as we pass Georgio Armani's houses on the point there. From here we either go into St. Johns or directly to Dickenson Bay depending on our reservations. Sometimes we have direct Internet bookings from cruise ship passengers and will go into Deep Water Harbour to collect them. On those days we also occasionally collect guests from the Grand Pineapple Beach Hotel and from the St. James Club too. To get there we have to pass the interesting Fort Barrington which is now part of the national parks of Antigua and Barbuda. We get into St. Johns at 9:50 and are leave at 10 sharp. On the way out of St. Johns we stop and give a little history of the old Fort James which also served to protect the harbour. Great photos here! We pass Runaway Bay and get to Dickenson Bay at 10:15 where we collect the remainder of our guests (including Pineapple, Verandah and St. James Club guests if we didn't stop in St. Johns.) From here we depart in five to ten minutes and cruise up past Sisters island and then Blue Waters Hotel and the Boons Estate, up the coast towards Prickly Pear Island and the start of the North Sound (and marine management area). We pass the beautiful Jabbawock Beach and the Kitesurfing school on our way up to Shoal Point and then up to Long Island (Jumby Bay). We are now in the very protected North Sound. It's here that we anchor up serve drinks and speak about the history of the area and then about the ecology of Long Island and especially about the Jumby Bay Turtle Project. We arrive there at 11 am. If you come to St. Johns then you will have been on the boat for an hour and if you went to Dickenson you will have been on the boat for just over 30 minutes. All of it is excellent sight seeing and i would recommend paying the extra cab fare and going to Jolly Harbour for the start. This way you get an awesome tour of the west coast. Some people just want to snorkel and couldn't care less about history, ecology, or anything other than snorkeling. I understand that and understand why the trip up to the islands may be not that interesting. We have seen whales, dolphins, rays, endangered birds and all sorts of cool stuff along the way to the North Sound. I am eager to see what comes up every time i leave Jolly Harbour. The journey up the coast is beautiful to me, but as you can see from Trip Advisor, its not for everyone. By the way, after drinks and the history/ecology talks we then cruise past the fascinating Maiden ISland which R. Alan Stanford chase my eco tour from all those years ago. Here you can see his artificial barrier reef. Then it's over to the mangrove habitat of Guiana Island. Loads of interesting stuff to see and hear about here. We spend so much time there as kids fishing. Such a cool spot. After that we cruise up in between the little islands like Lobster, Exchange, Rabbit, Hells Gate and all the rest of them passing nesting birds (depending on the time of year) and wonderful picturesque vistas. This is one of my favorite places on earth and so beautiful! Check the map here: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3434/3291375692_d5d9d9ac47_o.jpg We are usually passing through these islands on our way to Great Bird Island at about noon. We arrive at 12:15 or so at Bird, have some more drinks and then get off the boat for the nature walk up to the top of the island. It's high enough so that you can see the entire area. Some of the best "holiday style" photos are taken there. I think Antiguanice is putting some up that a guest shot on the eco tour later today. Since your question was about the start of the tour, i will leave it there. You know about the rest of the tour and all the caving, snorkeling and other cool stuff done on eco tour. Hope you had time to read all of this. I think i am going to put it on my blog for today. Thanks for the inspiration!

eli

Thursday, December 17, 2009

more news from around Antigua

Rob Breadner and co. have recently started an online media company and have featured several of my eco type blogs. Check it out here: http://www.365antigua.com/green/NEMMA.php


Tonight there is also an interesting video being shown at the Antigua Museum about Aids awareness. Contact the museum for more info.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adventure Antigua Diversification



Two big changes:

1- For nearly eight years I have been asking the different government representatives that have come and gone for some help regulating certain things about the way excursions are presented and the way they are sold. Minister after minister heard me and others in the excursion business speaking about many things we felt were unfair, but nothing was ever done. Specifically here on this blog we will speak about excursion companies being directly involved with the sales of tours. It's important to first point out that the average sales commission for tours like ours is 20%. That deposit that you pay your rep or tour desk isn't a deposit for the excursion company. It's a commission for the person making the phone call. In some cases we are paying 30% commission and I know others who are paying over 50% for some of their tours. Over the past ten years a few of the largest excursion companies have moved sideways into tour handling a.k.a. "ground handling" and tour sales. It is alleged that Tropical Adventures which is one of the biggest excursion companies has shareholders who are also shareholders of Sun Tours which handles all of the Virgin Holiday repping on the island. Many people complain that Virgin reps here in all the hotels predominantly push Tropical Adventures tours which include The Excellence trips, the Jeep Safari tours, The Tiami or Mystic sailing catamaran, kayaking and other tours. They are the biggest and most diverse excursion company and it was a very smart business move for them to also allign themselves with the biggest handler of tourists coming into our country. I don't know how many Virgin Holidays guests come off those 747 jets but you see their reps with their nice red and pink uniforms in all the hotels. Whenever our boats are slow Tropicals seem to stay full. The excursion companies complain about what they feel in an unfair advantage. Virgin does sell Adventure Antigua, but I know many tour companies that say they get no sales from them. It's like Donald Trump says though.... "It's nothing personal. It's just business"! In order to survive, Wadadli Cats was forced to do a similar thing. They formed a company called NX Tours to run tour desks in the hotels. Many hotels that didn't want to deal with staffing and organizing the sales of tours farmed out their tour desks to NX. At one time they had tour desks all over the island from St. James Club on the Atlantic side to Jolly Beach on the Caribbean. When a guest came to the tour desk and said that they would like to go snorkeling, you can imagine what tour would be the first one presented. This kind of business is common all over the world and locally several other companies followed suit. Recently Bo Tours purchased a catamaran and went from being a ground handling company to also being an excursion company. The next big move was that hotels starting buying their own boats and doing their own tours.
What does all this mean? Well it has many impilications. The first thing it means is that people who come to Antigua will be given a very slanted version of the available activites. The other thing which I have always been afraid of is that the smaller guys get marginalized. Which tour desk or ground handling company is going to tell their guests about a little glass bottom boat tour that costs US $40 and pays a US $5 dollar commission? It's terrible but the reality of presenting tours and selling tours to guests in these islands has changed for the worse in my opinion. Some of these ground handling companies now are coming up with a list of crazy policies which make it even harder for small companies. At the end of the day Adventure Antigua has had to make changes to their policy. My personal position remains the same, but my company's policy has been forced to change. The old addage of "if you can't beat them, then you join them" seems to fit here. A company called Antigua Adventures has been formed to pretty much do the same thing as Bo Tours, NX Tours, Sun Tours and the rest of them. Antigua Adventures is slowly moving into the market by running a tour desk first at Verandah Hotel. The Verandah Resort and Spa is a carefully designed hotel sitting in Dian Bay. For more info on this very cool resort you can check their website here.
For now Antigua Adventures is learning how the tour desk has been operating before making any huge changes. One of the biggest problems on that side of the island has always been the huge additional cost of cab fare. We are working on several plans to make this less of a burden on the guests. The other big problem we have noticed has been that there were so many tours being sold a the resort that people had a hard time deciding on what tour was best. We have cut some tours that the Management of the hotel felt were unsafe and we will also be trying to give the guests the best value for money that is possible while making sure that they are offered the best of the tours available. We are not just pushing our tours, but for a change guests at this hotel may start to hear about Adventure Antigua.

2- Adventure Antigua has always felt that we were going to be different from all the other tour companies by offering tours to small groups. Our biggest boat eventually got to be the 52 footer that we run the eco tour. It was built in the USA to carry 49 passengers, but we designed the layout to keep it around 25 people. Even at 25 guests we had many compaints from the old Eco Tour supporters. Seen here our old eco tour (done on our second eco boat which is now in the Indian Ocean) took a maximum of 10 guests.

Before that boat we had one that took only 4 guests. That's how we started out!! Lunch in the old days was pretty cool as seen here at Bird Island, but not that great when it rained as you can imagine.


Now of course, we have the Eco Tour powercat here:


and the Xtreme boat here:


 and the Classic Yacht here:




What we have found is that there still so many people out there who like the big catamaran tours and this month we have decided to further diversify our business in order to meet that demand. It's not exactly our forte, but after all the lessons we have learnt in what is nearly ten years of operation, we feel that we will be able to offer an excellent sailing catamaran tour. Our newest boat "Dolphin" is currently in Jolly Harbour undergoing some rennovations and should be ready to do it's first Adventure Antigua catamaran cruise before the new year. Plenty photos and info to come! For now here is a little one that kinda gives you an idea of what it will look like:


We are all very excited about this change because we feel that with the addition we will be able to reach a wider group of holiday makers and therfore spread the Adventure Antigua quality around a bit more. IF you have any questions or suggestions about our new hotel business or about our new catamaran..... or anything to do with our company please contact me on eliantigua@gmail.com
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Want to help less fortunate kids? Check this one out on thursday....

In the spirit of Christmas, we will be showing our appreciation to individuals and groups within our community involved in charitable and meaningful service along with distributing gifts to children in need.




We are counting on your generosity in the form of donations of all kinds –time and participation, as well as gifts for the underprivileged, or a monetary contribution.

We especially encourage families with children to participate in this golden opportunity for them to understand and appreciate the true meaning of gift-giving at Christmas time

Please contact us by phone (see below for our contact information) BEFORE TUESDAY to pledge your contributions to the “giving” component of our event.



Contact information:

Robin Margetson: 771-3748

Michael John: 725 9595

Josiane Salmon Whyte: 724 3855

Gilda Alexander: 726-6688

Event: SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS 2009
"A Night of Song, Lights and Giving "
What: Fundraiser
Start Time: Thursday, December 17 at 7:00pm
End Time: Thursday, December 17 at 11:00pm
Where: The Holy Family Cathedral grounds next to the Mount St. John hospital.


I will have more info on this tomorrow, but for now think about taking some time out of your schedule to come help less fortunate people out. I have a few friends who are starting a mentoring program out. It sounds pretty cool.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sandals Antigua Excursions and tours



Recently Sandals decided to farm out their tour desks in all of their resorts to a Company called Island Routes. This new company is spending huge amounts of money to market their tours online and within their hotels. They are telling all of the tour companies that we will see a huge jump in our sales within Sandals owned resorts as well as outside. They are selling online to anyone. There has been quite a bit of talk about the implications of this among tour companies. Sandals can be very aggressive with their business practices. The new company has already started making big changes within the hotels across the Caribbean. One of their policy changes may be pushing Adventure Antigua out as well. We have until December 31st to make changes to the way we do business if we want to remain being sold at the Sandals Grand Resort and Spa or at the all inclusive Grand Pineapple Beach Hotel. For nine weeks we have been feverishly working on making these changes but they are not completed yet.

We are currently trying to work with them on a solution, and Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals and top boss at Island Routes, has given us assurances that he want's us all to work together.

If we don't make the adjustments in time (dec 31st) and do get kicked out of their tour desk this will be a surprise to me. We will still keep collecting guests from the beach as we have always done. Even if you are staying at Sandals or Grand Pineapple Beach you will be able to book what was once their top selling tours if you go directly to our site:

We have a new Eco Tour and a new Xtreme Round the island video coming soon to youtube the websites, twitter and the blogs. I am sure people will post them on http://www.antiguaforums.com/ and tripadvisor too. Isn't the internet a savior for small business?! With or without Island Routes we will continue to provide the best trips to people coming to Antigua as well as those coming to the Sandals chain of resorts.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

intertesting new article and research about coral reefs



This article points out what we have been saying here in Antigua for quite some time. The best way to save  a coral reef and the fishery it supports is to ban fishing for a while. It's that simple...

I just hope that my good friend Brother B and his team at the Fisheries Ministry can get the wheels turning on the NEMMA so that some of the fish we have in there can be protected. So many species are now extinct from our waters. It's very sad, but can be helped with some hard core enforced protection.

Read the article about a live Caribbean reef here: The Cuban Reef Project

I took the photo above recently at the Tobago Keys National Park where so many fish that i used to see as a kid swam around freely. There were even conchs at the snorkeling sites where all the boats were tied up. WOW!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

our second Carriaco Sloop almost ready for launching.

While on honeymoon in the Grenadines, we went over to Carriacou for the morning to have a look at our new boat getting built there. Ocean Nomad's new sister is almost finished and looks even better. Two feet longer at 42 feet, she is bigger all over and seems to have been finished a little finer. There was a mad rush to put Ocean Nomad into the water a few years ago in March so that we could race in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta a few weeks later.


This one is being finished more slowly and with more care.


Of course with Christmas and all the holidays associated with it, we are not pushing for a launch date to happen until early in the new year. As you can see the planking is done and most of the cotton caulking is finished as well.


Pitch has been used to fill most of the deck seems as well as much of the caulking below the waterline.


The cabin top which is a little higher on this boat is done as are the hatch covers which are very beautifully finished. We are going to keep this one to do private charters and high end cruises.





Of course it's main job will be taking the boss, his wife and friends out cruising and camping on our weekends off. I can't wait.
IMG_0350sm

This man below is Alwyn Enoe the boat designer and builder.


These boats are built traditionally using local timber for the main structure and other Caribbean basin wood for the planking. No fiberglass is used and the entire process is done in a mostly sustainable manner. This is green boat building at it's best and we are delighted to be part of the process. We will keep updating you with photos and video. I have one or two friends who are counting on this boat to be ready for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta 2010. I am very sure it will be sailing in style then.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ministry of Sound comes to Antigua tomorrow night (friday) at Abras!

Ministry of Sound is a huge international record label which mainly produces very cool music mostly associated with clubs and disco sounds. They own several dance clubs around the globe with the one in London ranked in the top ten in the world by DJ Magazine in 2009. Whenever you go to the UK you see their CD compliations on the shelves of all the music stores. They do over 800 events internationally hosting nearly a million people each year. For the first time ever, this huge international dance sound will be hosting an event here in the Caribbean on Antigua. A friend of mine has invited them and will be hosting the crew while they are on the island. Abracadabra is the spot tomorrow night (where else could do it?) and it looks like it will be plenty of fun. Come out and check out the sounds of something different for a change. I'll see you there!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Galley Bay's sister resort: Palm Island

As many of you know if you have been following the blog, Mykl and I recently got married and had our honeymoon booked on a tiny island in the Grenadines called Petit St. Vincent or PSV.
To cut a long story short, we liked PSV but it wasn't what we had expexted. If you are from the Caribbean and have been lucky enough to visit many other areas around the Caribbean then PSV isn't that special. We checked out after a few days and moved a few miles over to Palm Island.




It was the first time we actually relaxed since we got married and although we only had three nights there, Palm Island was perfect for us. The beaches, the gardens, the trails, the rooms, the snorkeling the endless shady areas, the pool.... it was all what we had been looking for and we were very happy to have made the move. To be fair to PSV, i will write a bit more about it another time. In the meantime, if you have been to Antigua a million times and want to try something different for a change have a look at Palm Island which is actually a sister hotel to the other Elite Island Hotel "Galley Bay" here in Antigua.
We are now back to work and there is plenty of it. Adventure Antigua staff meeting today at 12:30!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

just married

For the past few weeks I have been unable to write consistently for a very good reason. In fact, it's the best excuse i've ever had. On november 11th I flew down to tobago on BA with my fiance. It's a direct flight and a very easy one that runs twice a week from antigua. We had less than a week before we were to be married at a small family ceremony overlooking the water. My family and a few close friends jumped on the BA a few days later and joined us at Mykl's parent's hotel "Kariwak Village". On the afternoon of the 17th in perfect weather we were married in a beautiful ceremony. I'm using my phone at the moment and don't have any photos. All i can say is that it was perfect and we felt blessed.
A few days later we were in antigua to have the big reception party and a simple vow renewal on the beautiful beach at "The Tides" on the north shore where i grew up. This time 250 friends and family joined us 4 the celebration. Again we were blessed with perfect weather, wonderful food and an awesome party.
The good people at JHR Caribbean Real Estate who sold me a piece of land in Jolly Harbour offered to fly us down to Petit St. Vincent in the Grenadines which is where we are now. A friend who works here got us a very special honeymoon rate and we r making the most of it.
Today we will take a very short excursion over to Carriacou to see our almost finished sloop. It will be the second sailing vessel in our small fleet as we try to move to a more eco friendly business. For more info check www.sailing-antigua.com
Back here later for a beach BBQ. Life is beautiful! For all those people who helped mykl and i get here today as a married couple we thank u so much.
Back in antigua on the 30th.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Antigua's Ministries of Finance, Tourism, Agriculture, and Fisheries... This is for you!



Rather that make you read too much from me, I have just pulled two articles from the net that came out this week and another I wrote a few weeks ago. The first article shows how much money you will save and make by getting the chief fisheries officer and Minister responsible for Fisheries to work harder on getting our Marine Management Area set up according to the specific agreement signed by Baldwin Spencer. He agreed to receive the grant money needed to set up NEMMA in a contract made with the World Bank and the other aid agencies involved. It's an OECS project.
This is a vital article for all our government policy makers. They should read it or at the very least be told about it by the relevant government aids.
Click here for BBC Article.
As you will know from reading my blogs (i hope you check them from time to time), the NEMMA is now law and the only reason that there is no manager or board of directors for the North East Marine Management Area is that some servants of the people are dragging their feet. Our funding runs out in April of next year. Read all about it: Click here
When you read the above articles you can almost imagine that the first one was written with Antigua and Barbuda in mind. There is no doubt that we make a very good example of what not to do with your natural areas. One look around Antigua and Barbuda and you will see the lack of government environmental policy. The leglislation may be there but the will to take that legislation to the next step and one of enforcement is missing. The people of Antigua and Barbuda along with the leaders of this nation should be shown how protection or key natural areas is vital to our very survival as a small island nation.
As you will read in this Chinese article (printed in English), we can not escape the effects of inaction and the responsibility isn't just resting with large nations like the USA. We must act as well! Click here for the Chinese article about Antigua's vulnurability. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Anyone looking for a good hotel job?

Hi there, I have become involved with a new company that will be working closlely with Verandah Hotel up at Dian Bay next door to Devils Bridge.


Simply put, the company is looking for someone full time to manage the sales of all tours at the hotel. They have a very unique situation and together with their high occupancy the job has very good opportunity for success. The job will have a basic wage of EC $2600 a month and all of the sales that you make will carry good percentage of the commission that you will keep too. If you are chosen and do a good job then you will d overy well financially and other opportunities will open up. Of course the job is a challenging one and you will find out more about it if you are chosen for an interview. This note is open and anyone can see it if they are a member of facebook. Pass this note arround if you like to as many people you think that may be interested. Spread the word to those who are not on FB. I am already in talks with a few applicants, but all applications will be considered if they come in before November 21st.
Applicants should have a working knowledge of computers and the internet.

They should be willing to work from 7 am five days a week (which will include one weekend day). Sometimes the days could be from 6:30 am and on other days work may be scheduled from 8 am.

They should be very outgoing and have a friendly personality. We are speaking about sales to visitors of Antigua and Barbuda.

A very good knowledge of Antigua and Barbuda is important.

A good smile and positive attitude will sell tours so this will be a plus for sure.

They should be prepared to do simple bookkeeping.

Experience in sales will help you but it isn't a prerequisit.

Applicants must be legally permitted to work in Antigua and Barbuda without work permits. The company will not be making any work permit applications, so keep that in mind.

If you think you are interested or know someone who is please contact me with your resume on my eliantigua @ gmail.com address.

Work starts December 1st so I need to hire someone very quickly. Thanks!

A tribute to one of Adventure Antigua's finest:

Later this week Gilly Gobinet, mother of the late Francis Gobinet, will be showing art that pays tribute to Francis. As many of you know Francis passed away earlier this year.

From the Antiguanice Abracadabra Restaurant Page:

GILLY GOBINET ART SHOW


November 12th 2009.



Water colours by Gilly Gobinet from 12th November to 14th December. Call us for more details 461 - 0761/464 - 6084



"Aspects of Antigua"- a tribute to the memory of Francis Gobinet

By Gilly Gobinet



Antigua is where Francis grew up, where he went to school, where he hung out & limed, especially at Abras with all his friends & family, and where he developed his love of the sea, which was to be his destiny in all senses of the word. These paintings are images of some aspects of Antigua that he cherished.



You are invited to attend the opening of this exhibition at Abracadabra, English Harbour

on the 12th of November from 5pm to 7pm.



Wine & CanapƩs- compliments of Abracadabra



The exhibition will run from the 12th of November to the 11th of December 2009.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Very important Environmental Awareness Group meeting and election today.

Yes today is the day when the Environmental Awareness Group meets and tells it's members about what it's been up to for the last year. As there are so many new members this year, they will also try to give people a better idea about the group's purpose as well. Since they finally gave the members the bylaws last week, I think people will have a good idea after reading this section:

bylaws copy

Anyway, some of my friends have offered to be on the list of candidates for the election to the new executive board which means that there is a good chance that there will be some new young blood helping to run the EAG. I wasn't sure they were interested in being on the board at first and was worried that I would be trying to make changes by myself if I was elected. I know there is resistance to any effort to change how the EAG has run. The meeting is tonight (monday) at 7 PM upstairs of the Antigua and Barbuda Museum in St. Johns. If you need directions you can call the EAG today on 268 462 6236. To join the EAG as a member which gives you a vote at this AGM it will cost you EC $50 or US $19.
If you care about the future of Antigua and Barbuda then you should come out early, become a member, listen to what they have been up to and vote in a new board. After that I am sure the new board will be able to get more of section 6.2 above done. The EAG has to!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Groupers all but gone from Antigua and Barbuda

The only big groupers we have left in Antigua are the ones locally called John Pow which live in waters over 300 feet deep. Lucky for them! Those ones are internationally called Warsaw Groupers, and you can read a bit more on them here. Uncle Nick caught one yesterday while bottom fishing in deep waters. If you see grouper on the menu it will usually be this type of grouper which so far have been able to survive our unregulated fishery. One that you will not find on the menu here anymore is the Goliath grouper aslo known as Jewfish. These were wiped out here in Antigua while I was a child. I have never see one alive. When you speak with fishermen here you realize that there are quite a few fish species which are now extinct here. Anyone remember the "macaw chub" internationally known as Midnight Chub. I used to see those amazing parrot fish all around the island. They are gone now. With so little work being done to save our coral reefs and the species that survive within them, I am sure that there are many species that young people will only hear about in stories. I found out that none of my crew has ever seen a Midnight Chub. JD had never heard of one. He goes around Antigua by boat at least three times a week. Anyway, have a read of an alert about Goliath groupers (Jewfish) sent from the Caribbean Biodiversity people.
Dear AMLC List





Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is one of the last representatives of the marine megafauna that were once abundant in tropical and subtropical latitudes of the world's oceans. Critically endangered throughout its distribution range, goliath grouper (previously known as jewfish), have been protected in U.S federal and state waters since 1990 through a total fishing ban. After reaching commercial extinction, the species is now in a path towards recovery. Florida is one of the few places in the world, where we can still dive with these giants.





Powerful lobbies are pressuring politicians to relax the protected status of goliath grouper to re-open the fishery at some point. This is against scientists recommendations. In a meeting early December, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will vote on whether to facilitate the process for a fishery re-opening or continue with the complete fishing ban and full protection.





The SCUBA diving community, conservationists and scientists are now lobbying so politicians will listen to the voice of reason. Please, consult the petition below, and consider adding your signature (you can also add your own comments). We hope to reach at least 1,000 signatures (more will even be better).

- http://www.thepetit ionsite.com/ 1/protect- goliath-groupers





Thank you for your time.

You can find links to goliath grouper publications and a dedicated Endangered Species Research issue in my internet page. Also a short documentary film under "teaching"





Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D.

http://independent. academia. edu/SarahFriasTo rres

Friday, November 06, 2009

a little video showing the Tides

I had a scheduled meeting today that i had to rush to after having a nice lunch at the tides, but when i got to it I found it had been cancelled. Anyway, using that time i strung together a few clips of The Tides to give you a better idea on what it looks like. As i mentioned in my earlier blog, today's lunch was for family and freinds to help the management and staff practice their skills. There is no doubt that this is a good idea and there were plenty notes being taken. The first thing we were told when we arrived was that they didn't need any praise at all and wanted only constructive criticism. We were given pens and paper to write things that we noticed could be made better. My table was filled with some very tough critical people so there was list of things for them to fix and work on before the place officially open. This is the best way to start a business i think, and it's a shame when so many places don't have the time or the money to do this kind of development. I'm sure that by the time this phase of training is done, they will be top notch. Here is a video to show you what it looks like:

A new Restaurant on the North side of Antigua is opening



My uncle Nick who is known usually by "Doctor Fuller" is a workaholic and a very productive one indeed. A medical doctor by profession, he has many other passions, hobbies and businesses. His latest project is probably his most challenging, but I think will be the most rewarding. He's no stranger to challenges as he's been facing them since he was a teenager. My grandfather was no easy man! The Tides is his new restaurant and will open Wednesday night for the first time to paying clients. After this coming Wednesday night The Tides Restaurant will open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday for lunch and dinner. If you would like to be one of the first to "taste their hand" as they say here in Antigua then please give them a call on 462 TIDE.
The restaurant was designed exactly as Uncle Nick wanted and more importantly exactly where he wanted. Dutchmans Bay is where several generations of Fullers grew up. In fact my Dad was born just next door on what was a US Base once upon a time. There are videos and endless photos of my uncles and aunts playing on this windward facing beach. My earliest memories of life on the island are all from the beach there, and for a long time it felt like our hidden secret. Some people don't like windward beaches with all the flotsam and jetsam that float up and much prefer the totally calm and spotless beaches found on the lee side of these Caribbean Islands. I guess I'm different because i have always loved beaches like Dutchmans, Jabbawock and Half Moon Bay.


That fresh breeze that's just come across the atlantic over the ocean is hard to beat. With all the family history and fond memories associated with Dutchmans Bay I was delighted when i heard that Nick was going to buy the extra land he needed to build a restaurant. Already, my cousin David and his wife Erin had developed the space that was once the famous Bucket of Blood Disco. Of course you have to be over 50 years old to remember the days when the hottest and most happening disco on the island was The Bucket. Hurricane after hurricane in the 90s finally finished it off and my cousin David ended up developing the area into Dutchmans Bay Cottages. If you are coming to Antigua and want a peaceful place to hide out please have a look at the website before you decide on where to stay. They even do rooms for a day which is perfect for those who want to check in to their flight and have a nice relaxing day just five minutes away from boarding time.
Anyway, Uncle Nick spent every last cent he had saved up and poured plenty of it together with a mix of blood sweat and tears into The Tides. It sits very close to the ocean which gives you a panorama of the entrance to the North Sound with all it's little islands in the distance and nice trade winds to cool you down. Designed to make the most of both of those things, The Tides is what i would describe as a modern colonial type building. Because it is so close to the sea, the foundation was supported by dozens of concrete piles which go way down into the sand. Speaking of sand, a huge amount of sand was imported to build up the area around the restaurant and if you look carefully you can see the tiny pink shells which help to make up the sand. Because almost all of Barbuda's exported sand is used for concrete mixing and construction, I think very few people buying Barbuda sand actually put it on a beach. The place is finally finished to the point where it can actually open.


Of course Nick will be up there trying to make his small garden as impressive as the building, but for now it still is a lovely place. "Didier" is the manager of the tides and brings a wealth of experience in Food and Beverage management after working among other places at the prestigious Blue Waters Hotel and The Gallery in English Harbour. Their Chef was the number two chef at the five star Carlisle Bay and has impressed both Didier and Nick with her skills. I hope to be as impressed later today when the majority of the Fuller family and some friends will be invited to lunch. To be honest, I don't even know what kind of food theme it will be, so this will be a big surprise for me. The restaurant is on the water and has quite a nautical decor inside which is not surprising if you know uncle nick's many hobbies. Today we are the guinea pigs and the most willing ones you will find indeed. I know it's going to be hard to give a proper balanced critique, so i will try to take my camera to help me to the job. More to come soon.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

fishing tournament this saturday in jolly harbour

jess-party--wahoos--rain-02The Best In the West Fishing Tournament is coming up this saturday in Jolly Harbour just past the golf club. This year Captain JD will be representing Team Adventure Antigua on Xtreme. Captain Tony and I will be fishing with my Dad on Blue Rapid. The party and weigh in will be on from about 4 pm. Fish will be on sale too. Come and check it out.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Antigua and one of its most talented featured in international promo

Kitesurfing also known as Kiteboarding is a very popular sport all over the world at the moment and one of the most respected stars there is hails from Antigua and Barbuda. Andre Phillip grew up on the North side of the island and has been wowing people ever sinice i gave him his first lesson at Jabbawock Beach years and years ago.
This humble surfer can often be seen kitesurfing there as well as other good spots like Half Moon Bay and Willoughby Bay. Most of the time however he is kitesurfing at exotic destinations around the world. You name it and he's probably been there proudly representing Antigua and his corporate sponsors. His biggest sponsor at the moment is Cabrinha which is a kite and board manufacturer. Here is a little promo done for one of their newest kite models.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Free trip to the Caribbean island of Antigua

Yes the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism group on facebook (go join them) is offering a free trip to Antigua and Barbuda. All you have to do is make a little video no longer than two minutes saying that you love Antigua and want to be flown there for Free and presto you are on your way to being entered into the competition. On facebook twenty five people have to click the "like" button on your video to get you into the competition. Once that's done you have to try to get people commenting and "liking" your video. I can't remember how they pick the winner, but hey you can win a trip here for two so check it out!
Antiguans can enter like i did, but we will only be able to give the prize to someone coming in from abroad. I was the only entrant before the original deadline so they extended it to give others a chance. Anyway, now my video is at the bottom and not getting as many views as the ones at the top. Go have a look and enter a vid of your own. If not have a look at mine click the "like" button and comment on it too.
I need more comments and more likes. If i win this competition i am going to give the prize to the person who gives the best comment below the video as to why i should give it to you. So you need to do two things. 1) get me as many comments and likes as possible so i can be in the top five selected by the tourism gang. 2) write an interesting comment that will make me pick you as the winner of my prize if and when i win.

Thanks! If that all sounds like too much you can always check it here too:

http://www.adventureantigua.com/

Thursday, October 29, 2009

whale watching tourism

Interesting article:

A study produced this year by group of independent economists located in Australia confirms that whale watching has become a boon to tourism in Central America and the Caribbean over the last ten years and is set to make a bigger contribution to the industry’s earnings.


Many Caribbean countries have been the principal beneficiaries of this growth despite the support given by a few of their governments to Japan’s yen for commercial whaling.



The study entitled, “Whale Watching Worldwide”, finds that the number of whale watchers participating in tours, grew by 13% per year from 1998 to 2008 and their spending in Central American and Caribbean economies increased to US$54 million from US$11 million in 1998. In that same period, the number of countries in the region participating in whale watching grew from 19 to 23.



Caribbean countries are at the top and bottom of the league table for the whale watching industry. Dominica’s industry is the most mature, following considerable assistance over the years from a number of non-governmental organisations led by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). At the bottom of the table, but with all the potential for a leap in the future because of its already large tourist trade is Jamaica where one operator is testing the opportunities to view sperm whales off Jamaica’s coast.



In percentage growth terms, St Lucia outstripped every country in the Caribbean and Central America. From 65 whale watchers in 1998, St Lucia had 16,650 watchers in 2008 – a growth of 74.1%. In volume terms, however, Costa Rica surpassed all other regional countries moving from 1,227 in 1998 to 105,617 for a 56.1% increase.



St Lucia is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) whose members have supported Japan at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as the government in Tokyo, in response to lobbying from a small but influential Whaling Association, has sought to extend and expand commercial whaling. In 2008, the government of Dominica – another OECS member – abandoned its support for the Japanese position acknowledging that support for whale killing is not in keeping with Dominica’s desire to promote tourism as a nature island.



The number of Dominica’s whale watchers rose from 5,000 in 1998 to 14,500 in 2008 – a growth of 11.2%. This growth was obviously far less than St Lucia’s 74.1%, and it was even behind St Vincent and the Grenadines at 13.3% but this is due to the fact that Dominica has been offering whale watching as part of its tourist attractions longer than its two neighbours, and it started at a bigger base number than they did.



In 2008, Dominica earned US$1.78 million from whale watching, while St Lucia received US$1.57 million and St Vincent and the Grenadines got only US$206,000.



Antigua and Barbuda – another OECS member and one with a relatively bigger tourism industry than the others – has not traditionally promoted whale watching as part of its tourism product and therefore it has not developed significant whale watching operations. But, in 2008, five hundred persons went whale watching there, spending just under US$1,000 a head directly and indirectly in the economy.



The lead country in the region is Costa Rica which alone earned US$21.1 million from the whale watching industry in 2006, having started it in 1994. Its closest rival is the Dominican Republic, which, in 2008, pulled in close to US$9 million.



In both these countries, whale watching has been encouraged and promoted by the government, the tourism authorities, the hotels and the calling cruise ships. They have also been strongly against whale killing and despite diplomatic and commercial relations with Japan, they have opposed that country’s whale killing stance.



This contribution by whale watching to economic growth in Central American and Caribbean countries has not been limited to this region alone. The AustraliaĆ¢€based firm, Economists at Large & Associates, that conducted the study, showed that “more than 13 million people took whale watching tours in 2008 in 119 countries worldwide, generating a whopping $2.1 billion in total expenditures during 2008”. The report also documents dramatic growth of the whale watching industry in Asia, the Pacific, South America, the Caribbean and Europe, significantly outpacing global tourism growth rates over the past decade.



As Patrick Ramage of IFAW pointed out in the Preface to the study, “growth like this means jobs: more than 3,000 whale watching operations around the world now employ an estimated 13,200 people”.



Against this background it is not surprising that many countries in South and Central America, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America strongly resist the threat to 30 years of whale conservation posed by Japan and a handful of European nations.



Iceland was roundly condemned earlier this month by 26 countries which called on the Icelandic government to reassess its current whaling operations and end commercial whaling. Among the 26 countries were Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Panama, Sweden, The United Kingdom, The United States of America and Uruguay.



Iceland's previous administration granted a huge quota of both minke and fin whales for commercial hunting, but commercial whaling is supposed to be banned and fin whales are listed as endangered species. What is more Icelanders have no great appetite for whale meat; the plan is to sell it to Japan. And whaling is no solution to Iceland’s present problems. Its economy crashed last year in the global financial crisis. Tourism is essential to its economy, and whale watching is one of the fastest growing sectors. Whale watching, not whale killing, is the industry Iceland should be strongly protecting and advocating.



That observation is equally valid for those Caribbean countries who currently support Japan’s desire for commercial killing of whales – there is nothing for them in whale killing. Whale watching brings them revenue, jobs and another string to their tourism bow. As IFAW’s Patrick Ramage aptly puts it, “whales should be seen and not hurt”.

http://www.caribbea nnetnews. com/news- 19505--6- 6--.html

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Environmental Awareness Group update

The Environmental Awareness Group had their Annual General Meeting scheduled for last Saturday night. As you may have read, this AGM was cancelled by the board a few days before without a vote, and then the members were invited to come to the meeting to vote on moving it to a date to be announced. This all seemed very strange to me. Anyway, I went to the meeting and tried to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, several key board members were not at this meeting, and it was all quite confusing. At the meeting we were told that the AGM was cancelled because the financials were not in order. Either way, we voted against moving the meeting. This was very strange if you think about it because the meeting was already cancelled. Why bring a motion to move the AGM when the AGM had already been cancelled by the board. One would assume that when we voted against the move then the AGM would go on right? No because it had been cancelled already. See how crazy this whole thing was? Anyway, we voted again on moving it until Nov. 9th.













Since then the bylaws have been dug up and they do say that the AGM and general election have to happen on the same day that the financials are presented no later than the end of Octover. The financials got totally messed up by a software glitch, and the board doesn’t think they can be done in time for the Nov 9th date. In fact, they say that it will take another 80 hours of volunteer work to get them sorted out. This means that it will have to be postponed again, so for now the AGM is on hold and will be announced soon.










To me this all just shows how much strain the board of the EAG is under and how much help they need if we want to see more help being given to Antigua’s environment. When the AGM and general election date is announced I will blog about it. I want to be on the board because I feel that I have the time needed in order to help conserve our environment. I feel that in order for the EAG to be very productive there needs to be some managerial chances made. It needs to be run more like a company and less like a government. In fact, it is a non profit company, and I don’t know any company that would be successful if it was managed the way the EAG is at the moment. With the blogs, and various other media that a few of my friends have used recently to promote the EAG there has been a very big spike in new memberships. I am sure that there are many more people out there who would like to become involved, but the EAG has to be a more proactive and more productive organization. The projects that they are involved in are excellent and need to be encouraged and continued, but so much more needs to be done. It will only happen with more interest in the EAG and more funds in the bank to get the job done. I think this can happen. More to come when we find out the date of this new AGM.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

350 day in Antigua

This one came in from a friend yesterday. As it happens Adventure Antigua is taking a group of 20 kids from a Penticostal youth group to clean up one of the offshore islands. I think we will hit maiden island which was until recently owned by Stanford. It is also one of the places i used to make a stop at during my Eco Tour.

GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE - THIS SATURDAY 24TH OCTOBER 2009


On Saturday, thanks to more than a year of organizing by our friends at 350.org and others, citizens have assembled more than 4000 extraordinary climate actions across nearly every country, from the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef to the summit of Mount Everest. Now, by joining actions in our own communities, we can supercharge the day and make the climate movement impossible to ignore. Click below to see the events map :

http://www.avaaz.org/en/350_map

The 350 day of action is named for 350 parts per million, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere that scientists say would be the safe for the climate. (At the moment, we're at 387 parts per million and climbing fast.) Already, thanks to organizing around the world, 89 countries have now committed in principle to setting 350ppm as a worldwide goal -- and the number has become a kind of shorthand for the fair, ambitious, and binding climate treaty that we are all working for.

On October 24th, at each event -- at rallies and parties and deep-sea dives -- we'll take a photo centered around the number 350. The photos from around the world will be handed over to waiting reporters, broadcast to the world’s media on giant screens in New York’s Times Square, and delivered directly to hundreds of world leaders and politicians in the coming weeks.

Gathering to pose for a 350 photograph might seem like a small action --- but when it's being done thousands of times in thousands of cities, it grows in force, showing global leaders a snapshot of the massive, vibrant groundswell of worldwide citizens demanding solutions on climate change. Let's make this huge.


ANTIGUA'S ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE - THIS SATURDAY 24TH OCTOBER AT RUNAWAY BEACH AT 2:30 PM

Families and friends we welcome your support and participation at Runaway Beach (next to The Lobster Shack) at 2:30 pm this Saturday 24th October to make our contribution together towards climate change. Please bring garbage bags, gloves etc for a beach clean-up and then at 3:50 pm we will take a group shot with a banner saying 350 Antigua in support of this wonderful global event. Anne Granger has kindly agreed to do the photograph.

This is a wonderful opportunity to get our children involved, and to increase their awareness of critical world issues which affect each and every one of us.

If you can, please wear colours of the Antiguan flag and if anyone has an Antiguan flag to hold for the photo, bring it along.

See you there!
(Please See http://www.350.org/

Friday, October 23, 2009

The other thing about climate change which people have just figured out...

Climate change isn't all about Global Warming. Most of the international media has been focused on that side of things because it was easier to study and easier to understand. Of course many still don't understand, but what recently has become quite obvious to scientists is that the other part of Climate Change which may be even more serious for small island states like Antigua and Barbuda is Ocean Acidification. What the heck is that right? Well Ocean Acidification is a phenomenon where the acidity levels of the ocean are rising rapidly because of the huge amount of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) that the oceans are absorbing. Scientists used to think that by absorbing the CO2 the ocean was helping Climate Change by keeping it out of the atmosphere, but recent studies showed how much higher levels of CO2 in the ocean has caused a major increase in the acidity of the ocean which in turn has had a huge impact on the ability of shell and plate making animals to thrive. These shells and plates are made out of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which has a hard time forming with the increased acidity. Most food chains in the ocean would collapse without the animals in that chain that produce shells and or plates. The organisms that make up coral reefs have had the hardest time dealing with ocean acidification and it's my opinion that this is the main reason that our coral reefs have been so decimated. There are a huge variety of reasons that the decline in coral reef is disastrous for Antigua and Barbuda.


1- with higher sea levels and less of a barrier reef there are certain areas around the nation that have had massive coastal erosion. Spanish Point also known as "White Bay" in Barbuda was once upon a time the favorite beach in Barbuda for locals and visitors. Over the past 15 years it has slowly disappeared with most of the erosion happening over the past 24 months. This sort of dramatic coastal erosion is most common where big Atlantic swell meets barrier reefs. As those reefs degrade more wave action and current meets the shoreline. Barbuda is most susceptible to this.

2- With coral reef facing increased acidification, they are less likely to grow. With other pressures like over fishing their survival is less likely. The entire inshore shelf fishery of a small island state will collapse without proper management if the reef is allowed to perish.

3- With less coral and fewer fish there is less sand being produced by herbivore fish. As has been talked about in this blog (click here) parrot fish and other such algae eating fish produce sand every time they bite algae off the coral. With less coral and fewer fish we have less sand being produced. With more sand being mined from our beaches and less of it being produced you don't have to be that smart to imagine what happens with higher sea levels and less barrier reef protecting the shores.

The time for extreme measures on protecting the reef is now, and I hope the government here get's their act together on the NEMMA. Please have a look at this video on ocean acidification narrated by the award winning actress Sigourney Weaver and put together by The Natural Resources Defense Council. (the first video is a long one really getting into the problem but the second vid is more to the point about coral reefs)






If this topic is very interesting to you, you may want to read more about it here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

EAG chanes plans again


Hi there, on tuesday afternoon I joined my dad and uncle on another Barbuda adventure. This time it was a little fishing and some turtle watching. We didn't find Suzie but did save some little turtle hatchlings that had been left behind deep inside the nest. Turtle scientists usually dig out a nest the day after it hatches out to see if any little ones were left behind. This nest had four little buggers that would have surely perished. This is pretty normal i guess if only one in 10,000 eggs will produce a mature turtle in the end. We let them go to give them a second chance. Anyway, this blog isn't about our adventure over there. IT's about the EAG's plan to change the AGM once again. Their website first said October 17th and then the 24th and now TBA. They have to vote to move the AGM and the election of a new board, so they are asking people to still come to this saturday's meeting at 7pm. I will be there early.
We regret to inform you that Saturday’s AGM will have to be postponed for a few weeks. The Board felt the postponement necessary for 2 reasons:


- Nominations for new Board members have not been pouring in as we would have hoped and,

- Our auditors have recommended a bit more work on our financial systems before we present our financial picture to you and the world.

Nevertheless, we still need you there on Saturday! We will need your assistance to pass a resolution at a Special General Meeting authorising the Board to postpone the AGM until after the end of October, as we anticipate with Independence happenings taking place very soon that we are looking at mid-November at the earliest for the rescheduled AGM.

Also we want to say a special “Thank You” to our volunteers who worked so hard at the SCSCB meeting in July, and to make them some presentations. And we also have a Video to show you!

The Agenda items will include:

- A resolution to postpone our AGM , until a date we are currently deciding on with our auditors.
- A special thank you to our SCSCB volunteers.
- A special pre-view of an EAG video, produced by HAMA , on landscape degradation in the Nelson’s Dockyard National Park , which is currently under production. We look forward to your feedback on this effort.
Light refreshments will be served. We hope you'll make every effort to attend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This message is for you.


The reason I say that this message is for you is that I think you care for Antigua and it's natural environment and I think you can help make some changes here in Antigua without that much effort. The Environmental Awareness Group has been the main environmental group here on the island forever and still is. They have done great work to help protect the offshore islands and their wildlife, to study and protect turtles and many other extremely important projects. They continue to do great work on these projects and hopefully they will never stop their hard work. For some time now it has been suggested that not enough activist type work is done here on the island and neither is there enough education or awareness being carried out. Personally, i don't think it would be wise to set up another environmental group at this point to accomplish this. After looking into the workings of the EAG I have come to see that they would do these things if they had more support. They are a small group of mostly older core members and I think that if we got some new blood into the EAG and especially on it's board then we would get more results. Antigua's natural environment is suffering at an alarming rate and the total lack of care and sense of responsibility shown by the various political parties is astonishing. I feel that the EAG is respected by the people of Antigua and Barbuda and could be moreso is it was given the chance to speak up. Recently it's voice has been quiet mainly because it's small support group has been focused on managing the projects that it has had minimal funding for. They have no money for running the office and to tell you the truth, i am surprised they have been able to stay alive.


I am begging you to consider joining the EAG in the hope that you can help make them stronger. Roddy (who took the awesome whale shark video recently featured on the bloog) and I joined last month upstairs of the museum on Long St. It was totally easy. $50 EC gets you in or$60 for the family. The annual general meeting will be held on Saturday October 24th at 7 pm upstairs at the Museum. From the sounds of things they need some new leadership and direction. Let's help them!

IF you need any more info on the EAG or this important plea for help you can call or text me on +1 268 725 7263. Here are some images to help you think about why Antigua and Barbuda needs a tiny bit of your help.























Monday, October 19, 2009

an image for your computer's background

IMG_2068sm

I am using this one at the moment and it makes a good wallpaper for my computer until your next trip to Antigua or the Caribbean. IF you use the search feature in the top left hand conrer of this blog you can search for other wallpaper images too. Click on the one above to get the bigger version and then right click it.
No solid news on Suzie in barbuda yet. possibly tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Suzie the turtle was on land last night!!!!!

IMG_1740sm

Yes according to the people running the turtle project in the Turks and Caicos, Suzie's satellite tracker gave long undisturbed signals last night from Barbuda. This can only mean one of two things. Either she has been caught which i doubt, or she has nested. As i mentioned in the blog from last week when we went looking for her, we had seen several green turtle nests over there. I hope that she just nested. The only thing i am worried about is the fact the signal came from directly next to the Lighthouse Hotel. Anyway, i called them and they have sent someone to go out and look for tracks. They knew nothing of any fishermen being down there last night. Fingers grossed. Check this blog for more info on this project and Suzie.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"The Passions of Eli Fuller"


When Myra Lake-Hughes emailed me saying that she wanted to interview me for an article she was writing for http://www.caribarena.com/ I thought she had me mixed up with someone else, so I replied to her and told her what it is that i did and asked her if she was sure it was me she was after. She said that she was sure she had the right person and she wanted to speak with me about my art. Now i knew she had the right person, but the wrong info about me. I had done some photos for the Woods Art Gallery a few times, but that was the extent of my art. Anyway, she sent me her interview questions and as i looked through them I still felt that calling myself an artist was a stretch. I then wiki'd "art" too get a better definition of the word. On that page
wiki says that
Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.
Reading that i came to the realization that there was no doubt that my blogs and photos met that description. Of course I endeavor to use these tools to appeal to the senses and emotions of the people reading and viewing them. Wow! I'm an artist. Wooo hooo. For years i have been saying that i have no artistic genes in me at all, and i guess i was wrong.
Myra used our interview and a few of my images and put together this article for Caribarena. Click this link.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The North East Marine Management Area - NEMMA


The World Bank and several other international aid donors through the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) set up a project called The OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods Project or OPAAL, and Antigua and Barbuda was one of several countries that received aid. Today was the official launch of NEMMA which is the funded project here in Antigua. As the title of this blog explains NEMMA stands for North East Marine Management Area and it stretches from Beggar's Point off Prickly Pear Island in the North all the way up to Frier's Head at Mill Reef in the East. The United Nations Environment Program describes it as follows:
NEMMA’s vision is to be a self-financing, multiple use (yachting, fishing, tourism, conservation, recreation) protected area that maintains and enhances the natural beauty and unique biodiversity of the area, both terrestrial and marine, supported by an efficient legislative framework and ongoing awareness programs.
For more on NEMMA you can read further here. I can't tell you how happy i was when i heard about the NEMMA because it was something that i have been dreaming of for most of my adult life. In fact, I met with the former Minister of Tourism many times about exactly the same concept during my tenure as president of the Antigua and Barbuda Excursions Alliance. In 2004 the funding for NEMMA was agreed upon and I think OPAAL started sending aid to Antigua for its creation. My fiance did much of the consultant work which made up the plan for NEMMA. The Environmental Awareness Group was also very happy to hear about the project especially because they already have an offshore island project within the NEMMA. The EAG pretty much saved the Antigua Racer snake which was one of the world's rarest if not the rarest snake on planet earth. The project had funding to set up the NEMMA framework and to generally set it up to be run for a year or two on its own while the NEMMA board and the NEMMA manager organize themselves to be self sufficient. It all seemed like a good idea to me and to all involved in setting it up, but there was one problem....... Government buraucracy. The project's funding was intended to be for NEMMA's creation and implementation during the period between 2004 and 2010. We are now in late 2009 and there still isn't a board set up and there still isn't a manager hired for NEMMA. At a recent meeting between excursion operators, The Fisheries Department and the Environmental Awareness Group the Fisheries officer was drilled as to why these essential things haven't happened yet. I don't think any of us understood the answer that was given. Either way today was the official launch of NEMMA. How it was that NEMMA was launched today with no governing board and no manager is anyone's guess. I sat there listening to the speeches by the officer of the OECS Secretariat, two ministers and several other government technocrats and i wondered if they knew that NEMMA was being launched officially in front of the Prime Minister the rest of us without a board or manager. I don't think that they knew. NEMMA is totally useless at this point so why was the launch today. I guess i don't have all the facts on this one and must be missing something. The passionate speech by the Chanlah Codrington, Minister of State within the Ministry of Agriculture (and fisheries), Lands, Housing and Environment was a very good one, and i felt that he understood what this was all about. Later I took Mr. Codrington and a bunch of other people from this meeting on a shortened Eco Tour of the area within NEMMA.
What was way more interesting than all of this though was what we found when Leslie and I arrived in our boat at the Parham Fisheries Complex. As some of you may know from reading my blogs regularly Japan has spend millions and millions of dollars here in Antigua and Barbuda on fisheries complexes. Read more here. Keeping in mind that NEMMA is being funded by OPAAL or the OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods Project which has an endangered turtle on their logo as seen here,

the sight of a freshly slaughtered hawksbill turtle caught my eye. OF course a slaughtered turtle would catch my eye no matter what, but seeing the bloody shell sitting there being photographed by the Japanese Fisheries delegation at the fisheries complex built for Antigua was just too much. Japan spent US $50 million dollars on Antigua and Barbuda's fishery so that we would vote alongside them when it comes to whaling and other such "fisheries" related issues. One such issue is Japan's fight for the Hawksbill turtle to be taken off the endangered species list. They would be so proud of their work here in Antigua i guess..... sadly!
Many people reading a story that told of Antiguan fishermen killing the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles would be angry at the fishermen, but this shouldn't be the case. When i saw the turtle the fisherman called me over to chat about it.
He was ranting and said the following which i will write without the dialect; "She doesn't want me to spear fish and told me to use nets instead. I keep catching turtles and stingrays and I don't want to catch them at all. This is what happens though, and I'm not to be blamed. IT's her fault!" I asked who he was speaking about and he said "Appleton" who is the chief fisheries officer.


The Fisheries department has increasingly stepped up its fight to ban spear fishing around Antigua and has suggested gill net fishing as an alternative. Even the smartest of fisheries officers seem to think that there isn't anything wrong with gill nets contrary to the position of most other countries around the world. Read my blog on gill netting if you have the chance some day here. Like the photo on that blog, this turtle today seen here was killed in a gill net. The turtles simply can't hold their breath for as long as it takes for the fishermen to come back and check their nets. Without any regulation on the setting of these nets we see them in every cove inlet and bay around Antigua and I estimate that between 200 and 500 turtles are killed yearly on Antigua and Barbuda as a bycatch. We'll never know this for sure though because it's illegal to kill small turtles at any time of the year and illegal to kill any size turtles in the summer months up until August 31st. A fisheries officer came down while we were speaking with the fisherman and told him not to bring the turtles back to shore. The fisherman asked what he was supposed to do with the dead turtles he finds in his nets. He said he had killed 5 of them in the past month and 12 rays. This is just one guy setting his net several times a week. There are others who set them twice a day and six times a week. It is my opinion that the killing of many of these turtles shouldn't be blamed on the fishermen. The blam rests with the fisheries department and their lack of proper management. The chief fisheries officer told a reporter from the Daily Observer that she didn't think that there was anything wrong with gill nets and from the sounds of things is promoting the use of nets to fishermen. There are other very good fishing methods that they could use which are more profitable and more sustainable. Of course apart from the irony of me being part of this crazy situation, I then had to sit and listen to all these speeches about NEMMA and protection of the area. During one of the speeches the endangered turtles were passionately spoken about by the minister. Of course neither he nor the rest of the delegation (with the exception of the Japanese) had seen the freshly slaughtered turtles. While Rome burns we sat there and enjoyed the nice lunch put on by the Fisheries Department.
For the sake of the marine environment, I can only hope and pray that the ministers and the fisheries officers get to work and hire a manager ASAP to get NEMMA properly launched in a more significant way than just speeches.