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Clifford Brooks Fisheries and Marine Lab A Caribbean Research Game-Changer

Premier Hon. Washington Misick (from left), LuAnn widow of Clifford Leroy Brooks, Minister responsible for Fisheries Hon. Josephine Connolly and Acting Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams cut the ribbon to officially open the Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Lab..

The biodiversity research and development profile for the Turks and Caicos Islands has vaulted many notches with the opening of the Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Laboratory located on the property of the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources (DECR) In the Bight, Providenciales – the first of its kind in the entire Caribbean.

The laboratory was officially commissioned on Tuesday (May 23) during a ceremony, which drew the presence of Acting Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams, Premier Hon.

Washington Misick, Deputy Premier Hon. E. Jay Saunders, Minister responsible for Fisheries Hon. Josephine Connolly, Health Minister Hon. Shaun Malcolm, Immigration and Border Services Ministers Hon Arlington Musgrove, Home Affairs Minister Hon Otis Morris, and Education Minister Hon. Rachel Taylor.

The Laboratory was named in Honor of late Assistant Director of Fisheries, Clifford Leroy Brooks, who died suddenly in January 2020.

Jessly Robinson, Marine and Fisheries Officer with the DECR, demonstrates, among other things, the gender and age of a fish, to Premier Hon. Washington Misick (second left), Hon. Rachel Taylor (third left), Hon. Otis Morris (fourth left), Hon. Shaun Malcolm (fifth left), Hon. Josephine Connolly (right – partly hidden), and Ken Adams (left) of the Do It Centre. Occasion was the opening of the Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Laboratory.

The opening of the lab was made possible through the DARWIN PLUS Fund Project, aimed at conserving tropical marine ecosystems in the TCI.

Connolly pointed out that Brooks was the heartbeat of fisheries in the Turks and Caicos Islands, having joined the civil service in 1987 as a fisheries officer, who worked his way up to assistant director for fisheries, protected areas and revenue collection. She said Brooks also assisted fishermen to develop their lives through training in the craft.

Members of the Government and DECR staff, along with LuAnn Brooks (third from right), widow of Leroy Brooks, share in a photo op.

She said as the Turks and Caicos Islands aims to becoming a center of excellence for fisheries and marine research, the opening of the lab spoke volumes that the country was serious about attaining that feat.

Connolly stated that the lab’s opening would propel the TCI to the next level, bolstering its economy and the lives of its people.

“Our Marine Environment has always been an integral part of culture, society, and economic success. And as such, it is important that we seek to increase our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of what exist in our marine space,” she said.

Acting Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams said she came to know Leroy Brooks as a very knowledgeable individual in the fisheries industry in the Turk and Caicos Islands.

She noted also that Brooks was a family man, who was very proud of his children and the progress that they had made.

Guests in attendance at the official commissioning of the Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Lab.

“I can tell you also that he was a fighter…he fought a hard fight. And he is no longer here today…but I can tell you that he is smiling now, knowing that this building has been officially named after him, and that will be a physical lasting legacy here in the Turks and Caicos Islands,” she said.

“I think it is important to note that the Turks and Caicos Islands’ culture, livelihoods and economy rest on a knife’s edge of a fertile marine ecosystem that requires continuous safeguarding for our future generation,” she further noted, adding that the TCI was also the stewards for the world’s third largest barrier reef.

Having signed its first climate change charter that outlines how to tackle the effects of Climate change, the TCI, Acting Governor Williams stated, has been catapulted to a world player in the fight against climate change, chiefly because of its barrier reef status.

“In order to achieve the goals that we outlined, research and development must be the cornerstone on everything that we do. Through this state-of-the-art marine laboratory, we are a step closer in achieving these goals,” she pointed out, adding that the lab serves as a beacon of hope for the TCI.

For his part, the premier stated that it is not often that the Turks and Caicos Islands gets to claim first mover advantage, but with the opening of the lab, can definitely do so. He stated that the opening of the facility brought with it the opportunity to operationalize and strategically monetize “The value of our portion in our corner of the world.”

He also pointed out that the United Kingdom Overseas Territories control a significant portion of the world's ocean and 90 percent of the UK’s biodiversity.

“And because of that, and because it connected back to climate change and the ecosystem, and the whole the environments movement, and the carbon emissions, I think we contribute significantly to the UK’s ability to claim our spot in the world,” the premier said, while thanking the DARWIN PLUS Project for underwriting the lab’s establishment.

“I just want to make it clear that it is a two-way street, and so, we have an obligation to ensure that we work tirelessly and strategically to maintain the purity, as it were, of this corner of our ocean,” The premier said.

He said based on the level of scientific research the lab would do, it should have a tremendous impact on the country’s ability to sustainably exploits the country’s fishery.

Dr. Edward Butler of the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute Research institute (SAERI), remarked that the opening of the Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Laboratory represents a momentous occasion for fisheries management in the TCI, adding that not only was the facility a landmark in the country but also for the Caribbean, being the first such laboratory of its kind in the region.

He said without such lab it was very hard to make informed decisions on fisheries conservation management.

In the meantime, Master of Ceremonies for the event, Bill Clare, pointed out that Brooks, like himself, started out from humble beginnings, but worked their way through the ranks in government, with Brooks becoming the Assistant Director for Fisheries at the DECR.


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