In response to an open letter from the owners and operators of the Conch Farm, and published widely in the media, referring to there being illegal sand mining in the vicinity of the Conch Farm, Ian Astwood, deputy permanent secretary, Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs, said that he is not aware of any reports of illegal sand mining going on in the Leeward Marina area presently.
“However, the Department of Planning has recently been approached by representatives of Leeward Marina seeking permission to carry out dredging works within the Leeward Channel. The response to this proposal was that they were informed that any such proposal is subject to a formal application to the Physical Planning Department, and until that time, no decision can be made on the request,” he said.
The government is currently defending a legal action from the Conch Farm development on Providenciales and it said that it cannot make further specific comment on this as it is sub judice.
Meanwhile, the management of Trade Wind Industries Limited (TWI) said that, having consulted with its board of directors and principal shareholders and lenders, has decided to continue operation of the Caicos Conch Farm at Leeward.
“The directors hope this will respond to the many requests that have been received from resort operators for TWI to continue the Conch Farm tours,” the company said in a statement.
TWI staff will continue to care for and maintain the existing baby conch inventory while simultaneously developing the breeding stock of fin fish that have already been imported to the Conch Farm in preparation for the commencement of fin fish farming by TWI, the Development Order for which is now the subject of litigation between TWI and Governor Ric Todd as representative of the Crown and the Turks and Caicos Islands government.
The TWI directors said they will seek to minimize the losses that this decision will incur pending the outcome of that litigation.