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St Kitts and Nevis Installs Turtle-Friendly Lights as Governing Coalition Pledges More Conservation Measures

The Federation of St Kitts and Nevis installed 30 turtle-friendly streetlights in an area with high nesting potential this year in honour of Sea Turtle Day 2020. The St Kitts Electricity Company Limited replaced brighter lamps with amber-coloured LEDs on the main road near Keys Beach – a popular nesting spot for the vulnerable leatherback turtle. This aims to discourage turtles from wandering onto the busy road, instead directing them back into the sea.

This is part of a wider project that will see 10,760 lamps replaced with environmentally friendly LED lights by the end of the year. Costing US$5.8 million loaned from the Caribbean Development Bank, the project has already made way through several portions of the Atlantic coast. The new amber streetlights will help more hatchlings reach the reproductive phase, local NGO St Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network explains.

“Leatherbacks prefer the Atlantic side of the island for nesting, with Keys and North Friars being the highest density nesting beaches on the island,” the NGO says. “Nesting does occur on the Caribbean side of the island, although not as frequently.” On June 7th, the community group counted nine leatherbacks in Keys, two in North Friars and one in Majors. One critically endangered hawksbill turtle was spotted in Majors.

St Kitts and Nevis’ newly sworn in cabinet saw Team Unity return for a second term. In their manifesto, they pledged a series of conservation measures. “Team Unity strives to conserve our flora and fauna especially our endemic species.” They promised to “pursue a greener and more sustainable future by protecting and conserving our natural resources for future generations and for the betterment of our twin-island nation.”

Over the past five years, the country improved its fiscal performance, with a 20-35% contribution to the government’s revenue from the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. Vetted foreign investors seeking the fastest and safest way to obtain second citizenship have been contributing to a government fund, thereby becoming ‘economic citizens’ for life. Their contributions have helped support tourism, infrastructure, social programmes and paying off previous debts.

“Having paid off the nation’s IMF debt, we are able to invest in our people and infrastructure rather than send money overseas,” reads the manifesto. “The Team Unity Government has facilitated the revitalization of a number of struggling tourism projects, leading to the completion and opening of a number of properties, thus increasing the tourism infrastructure.” They pledge to “enhance public services and our national infrastructure, delivering a pathway to more sustainable national development and greater comfort and enjoyment for all our citizens and residents.”

Though the pandemic brought tourism to a standstill across the world, St Kitts and Nevis remains optimistic. Speaking with re-elected Foreign Minister Mark Brantley, Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Federation’s response to the pandemic was “solid” and that access to “multilateral financing will be key” to support tourism – a major economic pillar.

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