OECS Yachting Committee
Date: 8th March, 2013

Representatives from the Caribbean Marine Association (CMA) were invited to attend a meeting of the Yachting Committee of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) held on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands on 27th and 28th February.
Representing the CMA were President John Duffy (Antigua & Barbuda), Vice-president Bob Hathaway (St. Lucia) and Director Anita Sutton (Grenada).  Private sector and Government representatives also attended from Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and, of course, the hosts, the British Virgin Islands.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways of unlocking the economic benefits of yachting to the region and to jointly market the sector whilst remaining aware of the environment which is the major source of income to most OECS countries.  The meeting was conducted Mr Rodinald Soomer and Dr. Lorraine Nicholas from the OECS Secretariat with presentations from various parties including the CMA.
High amongst the objectives was the easing of movement between the various Caribbean islands and the the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) in co-operation with the OECS and with the support of the CMA is working towards the introduction of an almost seamless on-line process which will come on stream during 2013.  CCLEC and the OECS will be releasing more information on this in the near future and the CMA has been tasked, at the appropriate time, to get the word out to the international yachting community.
The CMA was also tasked with investigating the reasons behind the penal rates of yacht insurance prevalent in the Caribbean which seem to be unrelated to risk when compared with the east coast of the USA.  It was considered by the meeting that these rates are having a deleterious affect on the summer season in the Caribbean.
Although the CMA extends beyond the limits of the OECS to include countries such as The Bahamas, St. Martin and Trinidad & Tobago, it was noted that there were some gaps within the OECS where countries have limited or embryonic yachting industries.  It was felt essential that all OECS member countries should have marine associations of their own and become members of the CMA.  To that end, the CMA was further tasked to assist Anguilla, Montserrat and St. Kitts & Nevis to form their own marine associations and to encourage the relatively new marine association in Dominica to become part of the CMA.  In return, the CMA requested that the OECS create liaisons with other yachting countries in the eastern Caribbean including Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago plus the French islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barts and St. Maarten.  
Before the final session, the delegates were taken on a tour of the main marine areas of Tortola, one of the most popular yachting destinations in the Caribbean.
The slogan 'Many Islands, One Sea' was deemed particularly appropriate to the motives behind the conference which was held to have been a success by all those who attended.  

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