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Jul 22, 2014

Puerto Azul Versus Conservation Community

There are still more questions than answers where the Puerto Azul mega-tourism project is concerned. Government has maintained that it can’t provide much information because the concept is still in a very preliminary phase; it is fluid and is yet to get a green light. But concern over the project is not going away, and has prompted reaction from a coalition of tourism and environmental entities including OCEANA, the B.T.I.A. and the Belize Audubon Society. The coalition has sought more concrete details from G.O.B., but with no success. And in the wake of information that the developers have received a terms of reference for an EIA, the group issued a joint release today. Their opposition to the project, they say, is primarily based on its massive scale in an undeveloped area.

 

Amanda Burgos, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

Amanda Burgos

“The project is in process. That’s the best way to put it. As far as we have gotten all indications yes they do have a terms of reference for an EIA. They have proceeded with all the studies and all of the analysis they need to compile that document. Obviously the terms of reference of the EIA will outline exactly what information they have to compile…be it oceanographic or dealing with solid waste – it will outline all of those technical issues and questions that we have had. Hopefully all of that is being compiled right now. From what I have been told and all indications are that there are elements that are desired, for instance a marina and a certain amount of villas are being required as per the developer’s needs. However the concept is apparently living, however the question is to the scale – the question has always been a matter of scale. We have had concerns as to – is this the location for a citadel or even an event? I think there was reference to special events being hosted that have a degree of infrastructure that will be needed. The reality of that location I think from the aerial and even from the maps they’re saying is roughly twelve hundred acres…but from all indications and documents I have read only about two hundred and thirty acres of it is solid land…the rest is wash-over mangrove so the question is can you really achieve what they are desiring on the parcel of land that they are in process of buying? We really want to keep it in the present. We want it to be in the conscious mind of Belizeans. We want them to know what is happening in the country. We have gone on several times and my colleague Miss Chanona has gone on the books basically to say that it is a national issue and we have to keep it in the national forum. People need to be aware of what is happening and the realities of what our system is facing.”

There is also growing opposition based on the fact that Lighthouse Reef is home to the Blue Hole and the Halfmoon Caye natural monuments, both World Heritage Sites, and the development would likely have a severe impact on those sites.

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2 Responses for “Puerto Azul Versus Conservation Community”

  1. Brightman says:

    While there are genuine tree-huggers in the conservation field, I often question the sincerity and integrity of most ‘activists’ as it is a known fact that many are only looking after securing their own livelihoods! Every year our tertiary level institutions graduate thousands of students…where will these individuals find work? If these development projects create jobs for Belizeans and help to stimulate economic growth, then by all means they should be given a chance. Unless viable alternatives are offered, opportunities such as this one should NOT be shot down so readily! The government needs to hold these ‘environmentalists’ in check!

  2. Lydell says:

    What percentage of the jobs will be given to Belizeans? What type of jobs will be available?What level of education will employees be expected to have? Will they be high paying or low end shitty jobs? What are the long term environmental implications of a project of this magnitude? Will native belizeans be allowed to go there and enjoy the amenities? Until someone can intelligently and convincingly answer these aforementioned questions, my answer is hell no to puerto azul. The key to employing belizeans and driving the economy is agriculture. Tourism is not the way to save Belize. All tourism like this proposed project does is enrich foreingners at the cost of our natural resources. Tourism is only seasonal, and is highly vulnerable. I don’t believe in depending on tourism to drive our economy because we are at the mercy of people’s curiosity and choice. Agriculture is more viable because people have to eat all over the world,they don’t have to visit any country if they don’t want to. Suppose tourism arrivals drop continually because of crime, then what happens to our economy? In agriculture i think our government should invest in our farmers. They should allow farmers to plant out all arable land in Belize with some agricultural product. They could also set aside some farmers to rear livestock and poultry. All we have to do is find markets in other countries and advertise all our agricultural products as “green and organic” We can sell our products to all the islands in CARICOM who are not blessed with the food producing and fertile land we have. All science, agriculture,and natural resource management students from UB could be encouraged by the government to go into agriculture by giving them 25, 50, 75 or 100 acre plots of arable land. The government can then give them small loans to start any agriculture based project they desire. Some of these students could specialize in poultry rearing,cattle rearing, goat/sheep rearing,pig rearing, Others can grow potatoes, pumpkins,soybeans, onions,garlic,broccoli,carrots,sweet peppers, cauliflower,calaloo,spinach and other scarce vegetables. Notice i did not mention corn,cane,rice,citrus or bananas because they are already established industries. All these graduates now farmers would give a percentage of their profits back to the government as tax for using the land.

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