Opening of the Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Laboratory in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Dr Ed Butler

During the official opening ceremony, held on the 23rd of May, the laboratory was named in honour of the late Clifford Leroy Brooks, a dedicated Turks and Caicos Islander and civil servant for more than 30 years. Mr. Brooks began his career in 1987 as a government Fisheries Officer, before working his way to Senior Officer, then Deputy Chief Fisheries Officer and finally Assistant Director for Fisheries and Protected Areas and Revenue. His career with TCIG was dedicated to bettering the lives of fishermen and developing the fisheries industry. The laboratory was officially opened by Acting Governor H.E. Anya Williams, Premier Hon. Washington Misick, Minister for Tourism, Agriculture, Culture and Heritage, Fisheries, Religious Affairs and the Environment, Hon. Josephine Connolly, and widow of the late Clifford Leroy Brooks. 

SAERI is proud to have been an integral part of the vision and development of the laboratory, which has unfolded over the past three years. The lab’s development has been driven through the SAERI-led Darwin Plus 153 project, entitled ‘Conserving tropical marine ecosystems in the TCI through science-based fisheries management’. In remarks during the opening ceremony, SAERI senior marine and fisheries scientist, and DPLUS 153 project manager, Dr Ed Butler stated “this opening is an example of the wonderful outcomes of the ongoing partnership between SAERI and the TCI government, and the collaborative support provided by both the Darwin Initiative funding scheme and TCIG.”, while Minister Hon. Connolly added “Congratulations to the DECR and the SAERI team for their dedication and commitment to seeing the progress made so far with the lab and our marine research. Keep up the good work and let’s continue to excel”. Premier Hon Washington Missick added “It's moments like these when we hear about it that we really owe those of you who are unsung heroes toiling behind the scene needs to be recognized”

 

Article from the Turks and Caicos Sun: Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries And Marine Laboratory Officially Opens In Providenciales

Honoured guests officially opened the laboratory – (left to right) Premier Hon. Washington Misick, Ms Brooks, widow of the late Clifford Leroy Brooks, Acting Governor H.E. Anya Williams, Minister for Tourism, Agriculture, Culture and Heritage, Fisheries, Religious Affairs and the Environment, Hon. Josephine Connolly.
Through the project and TCIG capital funding, the laboratory has been fitted with cutting-edge equipment for fisheries age-and-growth and reproductive research, while staff have been trained in laboratory use and procedure. Now, and over the coming years, the laboratory will support key fisheries science and research studies on the most important fishery species, which will feed directly into critical stock assessments. TCIG Department of Environment and Coastal Resources Director Lormeka Williams stated “Today we stand on the precipice of a new and developing aspect in research, conservation and food security: the opening of the Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Lab will encourage continued research and support of the fisheries and marine sector in the TCI, sustaining marine resources and promoting Blue Economy opportunities.”
Along with other critical research functions focused on emerging threats to the marine environment, including coral disease and sargassum influxes, the laboratory’s vision is to act as a regional center of excellence for fisheries and marine science in the Caribbean. It is envisioned that the services and skills which have been developed through the DPLUS 153 project will become available to neighbouring territories and countries throughout the Caribbean, and the lab will drive modern fisheries science regionally. Minister Hon. Connolly added “It will be the first centre of excellence for marine and fisheries research in the Caribbean… we are very blessed.”
The opening ceremony was followed by a detailed tour of the lab, led by DPLUS 153 project officer Jessly Robinson. Jessly captivated the audience, including members of cabinet and honoured guests, as he explained the processes of ageing fishes and analysing reproductive tissue samples, showcasing some of the hard work which has already been taking place at the lab. In remarks, Dr Ed Butler added “I am especially pleased that today… Jessly Robinson will be delivering a demonstration of some of our collective work, and a tour of the new laboratory. In many respects, Officer Robinson represents the potential future of the laboratory, and I am extremely proud of everything he and the project have accomplished over the last year.”

Image above & bottom right: The newly opened Clifford Leroy Brooks Fisheries and Marine Laboratory was on full display during the official opening ceremony
Project Officer Jessly Robinson performed a live dissection, demonstrating how otolith and other biological information are collected in the field, photographed here with Fisheries Officer Destiny Missick and guests, Oshin Whyte (Executive Officer and Environment Policy Lead, Governor’s Office) and Alizee Zimmerman (Executive Director, Turks and Caicos Reef Fund).
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