In an example of sustainable use of the Cayman Islands marine environment, Government and US-based Maxey Cosmetics have signed a five-year agreement that allows Maxey – in a controlled and monitored method – to harvest the tips of a locally abundant soft coral, to extract black sea rod oil (BRSO) for use as an ingredient in its products.

The company's record of sustainable use was vetted carefully by both the Ministry, and the Department, of Environment during the discussions that led to the agreement, said Minister of Environment Wayne Panton.

'Maxey has a proven track record with respect to their collection of gorgonians in Cayman waters, which it has been doing in previous collaborations with Government for more than 30 years', he said. 'Through monitoring of collection sites, Maxey has demonstrated the long-term sustainability of their methods.

'This new agreement incorporates clauses that specifically take account of the provisions of our marine conservation legislation, as well as commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity regarding the need to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of a country's genetic resources'.

The Department of Environment (DoE) agreed to the collection of the tips of the coral under several conditions, said Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie.

'Generally, "taking" coral is prohibited in Cayman waters', she said. 'However, because Maxey agreed to DoE's recommended conditions, Cabinet granted an exemption'.

The conditions include restricting the harvesting to a defined location outside of any of the marine protected areas; specifying the amount of the tips of coral that can be collected, which allows the colony to regrow and to be sustained; DoE monitoring of the collection; and a royalty of CI$25,000 per kilogram wet weight, as well as a royalty for the oil, that is extracted, which will be deposited each quarter in Cayman's Environmental Protection Fund and used to support the Islands' marine conservation.

'The agreement also requires Maxey and DoE to return to the collection site 8 – 12 weeks after the harvesting, to re-photograph sampled colonies to document their condition and regrowth', Mrs Ebanks-Petrie said.

The contract was signed on 19 November by the Ministry's Chief Officer Dr Dax Basdeo, and Maxey's President, Dr Kirk M. Maxey.

Caption 1, 2: Government and Maxey Cosmetics have signed a five-year agreement that allows the company, in a controlled and monitored method, to harvest a locally abundant soft coral, to extract black sea rod oil (BRSO) for use as an ingredient in its products. Signing the agreement are Maxey's President, Dr Kirk M Maxey (left) and on behalf of Government, the Ministry of Environment's Chief Officer Dr Dax Basdeo.

Caption 3: Maxey Cosmetics may use any one of the above labels on its products in order to highlight the sustainable use of BRSO – a marine ingredient that will be collected in Cayman waters, under strict conditions set and monitored by the Department of Environment.

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