Festival of Seas

CCMI People’s Choice Award 2019

CCMI People’s Choice Award 2019

CCMI is again recognizing efforts of those who have contributed in a significant way to ocean and coral reef conservation at the annual Festival of Seas Gala by awarding the People’s Choice Award to a worthy nominee.

The People’s Choice Award is nominated and voted on by members of the public, with the goal to recognise both an individual and an organisation/group that have made significant positive impacts on the marine environment. Whether through a project, programme or event, nominees demonstrate leadership and commitment to bringing about a transformative impact on the ocean habitats, especially coral reefs, in the Cayman Islands, from January 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.

Read more about each nominee’s contribution by expanding the details below. From 16-29 September, members of the public can vote on their choice for this award. CCMI will announce the winner at Festival of Seas on 16th November 2019!

Individual Nominees

Linda was nominated for her work to with the Cruise Port Referendum (CPR), a grass roots initiative, as she has devoted significant time to collecting signatures for the petition and working behind the scenes of the CPR to ensure a democratic approach to the construction of a cruise berthing facility in George Town. A leader with Plastic Free Cayman, Linda is very concerned about the impact a cruise berthing facility will have on coral reefs in George Town. She wants to do her part to ensure that any development in this area is done with sustainability and protection of the coral reefs at the forefront of plans.

Bonnie is a passionate conservationist in Cayman Brac who works entirely as a volunteer and often singlehandedly. In spite of being a one-woman team, she has initiated and managed a broad range of programmes aimed at managing the biodiversity of the island. In 2010, Bonnie began coordinating sea turtle nesting beach monitoring in Cayman Brac. Every year, she assembles, trains, leads, and inspires a dedicated team of community members to find, mark, and protect sea turtle nests around the island. Bonnie has conducted public education, outreach, and volunteer training efforts to ensure that her legacy of sea turtle research and conservation is continued.

By day, Bill is a science teacher at CIS, educating students about the world around them. In his free time, Bill expresses his passion for the environment and for his students with his work as Education Coordinator for Plastic Free Cayman. In addition to efforts to raise awareness around the Cayman Islands about plastic pollution, Bill inspired and mentored students at CIS to create a youth advocacy group: Protect Our Future.

Bill has given a tremendous amount of time to support the work of Plastic Free Cayman by leading the education booths at beach clean ups and providing support for the organisation’s growing efforts to reduce plastic consumption in Cayman. Educating the next generations is vital in the step towards reducing plastic pollution, and Bill has done so much in both personal and professional circles to make this issue as widely publicized as possible.

Michael Ridley spearheaded a project to raise $15,500 in order to lease a high-tech camera that is used at a key nesting beach at Sand Hole Road in Boatswains Bay for the duration of turtle nesting season (2019). Sand Hole Road is a critical nesting beach for sea turtles in the Cayman Islands, and having a monitoring system to watch for and hopefully deter poaching of sea turtles is important to the long-term efforts to save and grow the local nesting population of the threatened green sea turtle.

As the removal of one nesting sea turtle by poaching from the nesting population can impact the overall health of the sea turtle population, ensuring the safety of all sea turtles in the Cayman Islands is important. Allowing for remote monitoring and then deployment of the DoE enforcement officers when necessary to secure the beach for a nesting turtle can better utilize staffing resources while also preventing poaching of such a vulnerable species. If deemed successful, Michael’s efforts may expand to include additional beaches in future years.

These amazing winter residents of the islands have penned and photographed four books about Cayman’s local wildlife and, earlier this year, delivered a signed copy of the fourth book to the Department of Environment (DoE)! This book focuses on Cayman’s various shrimp species and is appropriately entitled ‘Cayman Has Shrimp and Amphipods, Isopods, Mysids and Spiders’. It has more than 100 pages of top-notch colour photos and describes each species photographed in detail. Previous scientific tomes written by the trio have focused on crabs and worms, among other species.

These folks have, on their own time and at their own expense, documented in exquisite detail the smaller, less-celebrated species that make up an important part of Cayman’s underwater (and land) ecosystems. They have promoted conservation by drawing attention to the unique biodiversity that exists at all levels in Cayman’s marine environment. They have done this all as part-time residents in our islands, showing their care and concern for our home.

Public education about the marine (and terrestrial) environment is always important to future generations and, to that end, these books submitted as a hobby project are of the highest quality. If these three hadn’t produced such works in this manner, DoE is not sure who would have done so.

Company/Organisation Nominees

Less plastic on the road – less in the ocean. It seems so simple, and Pirates Week gets the credit for being the first national festival to implement this as a key component to their event plans. Last year (2018) was the introduction of reducing the single use plastic at the event by the organisers and vendors; in 2019, Pirates Week has solidified the rule that no food vendors can serve items in plastic or Styrofoam if they wish to participate in the events.

In addition to making a ‘plastic-free/Styrofoam-free’ rule for vendors, pirates receive reusable cups for use during the festival. Another great event that was introduced in 2018 is a Pirates Week beach clean-up in which everyone is encouraged to take part.

To continue and elevate the importance of reducing the amount of plastic debris that is used and ends up in the ocean, Pirates Week has been speaking out to influence all other national festivals to be plastic free.

This group of Cayman’s youth has come together to push for action for the environment. Led by teacher Bill LaMonte, these CIS students are very concerned with the state of the environment and are finding ways to take positive action for the oceans as well as make their voices known about the issues that concern them. To do this, they formed Protect Our Future Cayman, a student-led organisation that is at the forefront of advocacy for protecting and preserving the environment. Their advocacy started with a photo campaign to raise awareness about environmentally sensitive native species in Cayman and built momentum to where they helped organize a school walk out and demonstration at the Government Administration Building. They have spoken with various government officials about their concerns and have taken their message to the media, appearing in radio, TV and print news with their conservation concerns.

Protect our Future Cayman was recently recognized by the National Trust for the Cayman Islands at the recent Governor’s Conservation Awards with the Lois Blumenthal Youth Conservationist Award.

STOAK’D Cayman is a small art/design company that is working to educate the Cayman public on how much plastic is washed up on Cayman shores. They work closely with local school children and Plastic Free Cayman to conduct beach clean ups and have instituted an island-wide school collection of bottle caps. Students learn how “trash” can be recycled by creating a large portrait made from these plastic bottle caps constructed. Each art piece is created with the help of the public and local school children.

With more and more plastic ending up in the ocean, STOAK’D believes education is key in reducing   plastic usage and thus the amount of debris that is found in our waters and coral reefs.  STOAK’D enjoys contributing to efforts of eliminating plastic – especially in the oceans – and feels that education is the key to success. By educating and getting students involved, they see first-hand what is happening in the world they will be inheriting.


  • 2nd July – 14th August: Nominations for People’s Choice Award open
  • 16th – 29th September:  Public voting takes place (online)
  • 16th November:             Winner of People’s Choice Award announced at Festival of Seas Gala


About the voting process

Voting takes place 8:00am on 16 September 2019 until 5:00pm on 29 September 2019. Limit one vote per email. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be announced at the Festival of Seas Awards and Gala on 16th November 2019 at Grand Old House. Tickets can be reserved or purchased online here.

 All nomination information, photos and supporting material may be used by CCMI for promotional purposes.

Nominees must accept their nomination in order to be included in the public voting process. This includes they agree to media publicity and promotion associated with the People’s Choice Awards nomination, including any photos submitted or taken at the Festival of Seas Gala.