“We all agreed that whilst we could do down the long road of fighting for prescriptive rights … what we ended up with is a solution where the property is going to be held for the people of the Cayman Islands. One of the few conditions in that trust is that there would be no commercial activities.”
Minister of Commerce, Joey Hew
(CMR) The ongoing legal battle for local fishermen to access Red Spot Bay in George Town has been amicably resolved by agreement with the landowner, Chris Johnson. Johnson has now abandoned his recently filed civil suit and a solution that is satisfactory to all parties has been reached.
Late last month CMR exclusively revealed that the government was negotiating a deal with Johnson that would allow the men to remain at the location. The site has been a treasured local fish market site for over 50 years.
It was revealed on Thursday in Parliament after Leader of the Opposition V. Arden McLean moved a motion that the government either enforce a prescriptive right or compulsorily acquire the property in the interest of cultural value and for the purpose of preservation of a long-established activity by members of the public. The motion was seconded by MP Anthony Eden (Savannah).
McLean laid out his points in a detailed contribution about the history and importance of the fish market. He stressed that “pussyfooting around with this has got to stop.”
In response, Minister of Commerce Joey Hew confirmed that Johnson and the government had come to an agreement that would allow the fish market to remain on the property and place it in a trust for the people of the Cayman Islands in perpetuity. They will have to move slightly to the southern corner of the parcel.
The property now borders with the Thompson property who have agreed with the new arrangement. The government will develop the opposite side for them and restroom facilities and dedicated parking across the street. He confirmed that the representative for George Town Central, Kenneth Bryan as included in the process.
Bryan agreed that often you get more done with honey and the least amount of conflict.
Hew explained the circumstances that led up to the resolution including the temporary movement of the fishermen during the covid-19 shutdown. He noted that the solution took a lot of hard work and avoided the need to force the government's position with “a big stick.” A code of conduct will also be implemented for the market.
Johnson has originally wanted the location to be turned into a beach park. A previous offer for the government to purchase the property was turned down.