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Jan 6, 2011

Are tilapia’s causing a stench? Area Rep. and residents discuss issue

For months there have been reports that tilapia farms in Belize Rural North have been emanating an unpleasant odor. The farms were set up by the area representative, Edmund “Clear the Land” Castro when he was a Minister of State as a way to create employment in the area. But some residents are complaining that it is creating a health problem. News Five’s Marion Ali was in Maskall today and has this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

Shortly after taking office in the Belize Rural North constituency, Belize Rural North Area Representative, Edmund Castro introduced a tilapia farming project in several villages.  But for several months, residents in Maskall Village have been complaining about the stench that emanates from one of the ponds.  The pond is located on Castro’s private property in the village and when we visited with the residents, we did detect the bad odor.  It is something that they say has been much more than an inconvenience since Castro put his pond there.  Many of the residents did not want to appear on camera because they say they felt intimidated.  But a few did, including the Chairman of Maskall.

Michael Jones, Chairman, Maskall Village

Michael Jones

“The food weh dehn feed the fish with they have it stored up ina about two building and the food cause wah lot of bugs. But I noh know weh I can do about it. We try complain but then nobody listen.”

Marion Ali

“You complain to who?”

Michael Jones

“We complain to the Minister because then that dah fi he plan that. We got some people weh live dah back deh weh make wah lot of complain but nobody do nothing bout it. I don’t know if anything has come out to it.”

Marion Ali

“What has been the response from him?”

Michael Jones

“He seh like that dah noh fi he concern. He seh dah only wah food and that can’t do nothing to nobody.”

Marion Ali

“But the people say that they feel bad, that they have to lock up their homes. They throw up sometimes.”

Michael Jones

“Yeah people get sick offa it. They have to lock up their place especially certain time—like eena the evening like nobody can’t come out because the bugs dehn deh di fly bout. You got wah case weh include my grandson weh live dah back there weh one of the bug gone ina ih ears. And we had to make them take the bug out. But I noh know weh we could do about it. Maybe like this now over the news like this or whatsoever it may be, somebody wah could look into it.”

Voice of Resident, Maskall Village

“The man bring some feed ina the house for di tilapia deh. And from that time, especially when ih rain, you smell the feed come stink and when the north blow, dah yah ih come.   Sometime fi two, three days I feel bad. Then when the night come, they got some lee bug eena the feed. They wait ‘til my light shine and they come when dehn see the light.   Dehn thing really affect yoh because you cook, you have to watch yoh pot. You mek yoh hot coffee, you have to watch yoh hot coffee because you got yoh light dehn wah di fly round. So fi di two years now we di tek deh thing deh.”

Voice of Resident, Maskall Village

“The fish smell and the feed smell. And dah wah high stench from the village.”

Marion Ali

“Some people say that it sickens them and it makes them throw up and it makes them feel bad. Do you experience any of that?”

Voice of Resident

“Well I noh throw up and I noh feel bad but dah just wah bad smell, wah terrible smell and ih last long too.”

Voice of Resident, Maskall Village

“When I do pass I cover my nose or sometimes yoh want vomit when yoh di pass the area weh ih smell soh bad.   I heard people talk bout it but then we noh really know because we noh come round the area. But been that we move back dah the area now, we deh yah fi smell it.”

Brenda Herrera had problems with not only Castro’s, but with other ponds in the village.

brenda herrera

Brenda Herrera, Resident, Maskall Village

“The ponds behind the police station those are in very high bushes right now. The water is drying up, the fishes are dying, the feed stinks very bad. There are a lot of small black bugs that come from the feed. When they bite, they bite very, very hot. They usually come out at night. The people they complain that they feel very bad, they get upset stomach, they can’t eat their food in peace, you pass by you have to cover up your nose. Well this pond right here where you are standing it’s a big concern to me because if you look around you would notice the garbage and when the water comes up, it’s a tilapia pond within a pond.  And so the fishes come out of the tilapia pond and the kids eat the fish. Look at the garbage; it’s pretty bad—not healthy at all. So something needs to be done. I want others to come in and see like you are doing now. I believe now that it is going to be more exposed maybe he might reconsider.”

But Castro says the residents are really making noise about nothing and that the whole issue is politically driven.

Edmund “Clear the Land” Castro, Area Rep., Belize Rural North

Edmund Castro

“What you smell is anything different than what the people or you smell when you go to Vernon Street. Is any smell different than that? I don’t think so.”

Marion Ali

“It’s very pungent, but they have to live with it for twenty-four hours a day. At Vernon Street that’s only a fish market?”

Edmund Castro

“It’s a fish market. But how do you explain poor Miss Marie on Fabers Road and the stench from the sewer system?  They have to live with that?”

Marion Ali

“I am not saying that’s right. I am saying in your area where those people…”

Edmund Castro

“I am just telling you that there is no way the fish smell is worse than that that poor Miss Marie that nobody want to interview or deal with has to live with it. The closest neighbor that is complaining her husband is a fisherman because he sells fish. So there is no need to complain; he sells fish. So when he has his net with fish, we should scorn on him because bwai yah smell like fish or bwai me noh wah smell like fish.”

Marion Ali

“What about what the village chairman, Mister Jones told me?”

Edmund Castro

“I think it’s pure foolishness Marion. Maybe a little bit overreact. But basically it’s no different smelling a fish pond. My neighbor has a fish pond. Galvez, inspector Galvez has a fishpond in his yard. So don’t you think that some motive is behind targeting four fish ponds when everybody else in the area have fish ponds.”

While he feels the concern has no valid place, Castro has extended an invitation to News Five to tour the entire area and to speak with the residents who engage in tilapia farming.  Marion Ali for News Five.

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5 Responses for “Are tilapia’s causing a stench? Area Rep. and residents discuss issue”

  1. Robert says:

    Why doesn’t the Ministry of Health investigate? No man is above the law, not even Castro.

  2. rootsman says:

    Maybe Castro needs to go see an ear, nose and throat specialist because as big as his nose is he should smell everything and he apparently does not listen to the people, imagine if he can treat his own villagers that way what he would do to others and have already done.

  3. OW Resident says:

    Tialipa Farming is a venture that Government should have thought of carefully even before the made the small farmers invest thier time and money on it. There is very little profitability with Tilapia since the feed is very expensive and the fuel prices are sky rocketing. The risk of pungent smell developed by the farms is there especially if the ponds do not have a good aeration systems and water recirculations. When fuel prices go up and farmers invest less and less in aeration this can result in the foul smell that the people are having. I have been in farms where there is no smell what so ever but this all depends on the type of systems that one has.
    Minister Castro is just a loose canon that does not have an idea of what he is doing. Most if not all the productive ponds that were constructed during the past administration. Castro’s ponds are nothing put large potholes. lets see now that MENA went under to see if GOB can capitalize for small framers to supply the local demand. There is no way that locals can compete with foriegn markets because production cost in Belize is too high and price for tilapia is too low.

  4. Earl Grey says:

    ARE THESE FISH FARMS DESIGNED FOR SUSTAINABILITY…….. AND ECOLOGICALLY SOUND???

    IF NOT THEY SHOULD BE FIXED……… THE FISH IS A GOOD CHEAP SOURCE OF PROTEIN.

  5. Belizean says:

    Hey Castro,

    If you can live in that same polluted area for one year then I happy to say you’re right. But if you do not live there having to smell some funky smell everytime you go home the SHUT THE HELL UP!!!

    Residents of the area: If you don’t want to complaint and you keep being afraid no one will help you. Bring doctor papers of your illness of some kind of proof to defend your complaints and take the matter to court. For God’s sake stand up for your rights people.

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