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Apr 17, 2013

Norwegian Cruise Line and G.O.B. sign MOU for Crawl Caye development

Melanie McField

On Monday, a delegation of executives, representing Norwegian Cruise Line, met with government officials at the Belize Tourism Board office in Belize City to discuss the prospect of a mega infrastructure development project on Crawl Caye, off the coast of southern Belize.  The impressive undertaking, once approved, should see the total transformation of the small mangrove island into a first-rate tourist destination complete with docking facilities.  While negotiations are said to be in the nascent stage, concerns are being raised within the environmental community about the potential impact of such large-scale development, as well as the indemnities NCL will be receiving from government.  A draft Memorandum of Understanding between the company and the government reveals that the cruise line would be exempted from stamp taxes, customs duties and other tariff waivers over a thirty-year period.  Additionally, two fifteen-year extensions can be exercised at the individual discretion of NCL.  The company is also seeking a thirty-year concession as a port of call with multiple locations in the Stann Creek District with two supplementary allowances of fifteen years.  Dr. Melanie McField spoke with News Five today about the possible harmful effects of the construction on the marine environment.

 

Dr. Melanie McField, Environmentalist

“The first thing would be to look at the island itself and it’s primarily wet mangrove so anytime you want to do a large-scale development in mangroves that typically involves dredging and filling.  Now I’ve understood that they say their going to build some walkways because they’ve said they want to minimize that but there is still a lot of infrastructure to be able to service bathrooms and changing rooms and just facilities, gift shops.  I’m sure this would be, you know, there’s a lot of land surface you need to service thousands of people at once.  These are large boats, so they would be dredging and filling and creating land and I’m told that they’ve said they need seventy acres of dry land and that is not there right now.  So the actual dredging of the seabed is obviously, you know, an environmental impact that you can’t mitigate because you’re removing what’s there, it’s often sea grass.  There’s a lot of coral reef around this area, shoals.  There’s banks with shallow shoals that will have to be entirely removed for the ship to be able to get through there and on those shoals there’s sea grass bed sponges, coral reef.  Ringing the island is apparently a very healthy coral reef.”

 

In addition to what already seems to be requests for very generous consideration by the Government of Belize, the Memorandum of understanding also states that G.O.B. would be obligated to construct all necessary roads and basic infrastructure for cruise tours, support all required licenses, permits and permissions and allow all cruise lines using the authorized cruise port of entry in Southern Belize to keep casinos and shops open while in port. This is a story that we will keep following.

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9 Responses for “Norwegian Cruise Line and G.O.B. sign MOU for Crawl Caye development”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    Let’s have some tax relief and other fiscal concessions for Belizeans also so we can buy food, clothes, health care, and educate ourselves. We are are poor people and cannot afford to give away our wealth to more advanced nations. Is this a new form of colonialism or imperialism?

  2. placencia gyal says:

    We no wah NO mega cruise ship ina we waata!!! GOB, we down south waah keep fi we overnight tourism. They are the ones who keeps our communities going. We want them to keep coming back!!!!! NO to NCL!!!!!

  3. Belizean says:

    Very simply put: DO NOT TOUCH BELIZE! DO NOT COME HERE! WE DONT WANT YOU! YOU WILL DESTROY US! TOURISM DAMAGES EVERYTHING!! BLA BLA BLA..If we wanna keep on keeping off investors, fine..lets keep on living in poverty, having a rich flora and fauna for NOTHING..It benefits NO ONE if it just sits there!! Come on, we need DEVELOPMENT..Environmentalists fret because they are the ones that are messing up the atmosphere, so they have to hide their sins by trying to make other peoples deeds LOOK like sins!

  4. alley cat says:

    This is great news! Circumvent the Placencia crowd, the south need development and dollars… Mcfield have a hotel in Placencia from beach to lagoon, how come she wasn’t worried about the mangroves cleared to make way for the hotel business?

  5. Storm says:

    A mega development like this will change southern Belize and our waters forever — it needs long, open, national discussion so all points of view can be heard.

    Is it best for the nation to incur so much destruction and change WITH NO REVENUE IN RETURN FOR AT LEAST 30 YEARS just so a handful of politicians and their family and friends can get rich today?

    I hope there is a way for the courts to put the brakes on this apparent fait accompli.

  6. Beto says:

    Development for what? Who will benefit? at what environmental cost? This sounds not a good deal and we will make sure this does not happened. This will be another lost for (UDP) Government.

  7. Bear says:

    I’d like to share what Hon Hulse was reported saying JUST YESTERDAY, one day before the MOU was disclosed, as reported on Channel 7:

    “Well, during her interview, Minister in charge of a Cabinet Investment Committee, Godwin Hulse called us. He told us that all the fuss that’s being raised is premature – because nothing has been agreed upon and talks are at a very preliminary stage. He said that the Cabinet Committee did meet with Norwegian Executives, but that was simply for government to lay out the regulatory parameters of what would be required for tourism, environment and fisheries before an investment is made. He said it is now up to Norwegian to take all this information back and decide if they want to proceed. ”

    SO IT WAS PREMATURE TO DISCUSS PUBLICLY ON TUESDAY, AND IT’S A DONE DEAL ON WEDNESDAY?

    Who the fools? WE THE FOOLS!

  8. EDDIE A. EBANKS says:

    Please dont do what the U D P in Cayman did.

  9. Paul S Korinko says:

    I just returned from a Beautiful Caribbean Cruise last week on NCL. While I enjoyed the time on the ship, I really enjoyed the excursions. One thing that really disturbed me about the visit is the extreme difference in apparent wealth between the “front streets” and the real streets. I would encourage the Belizean (is that the right term) people to stand against the development. Maintain your beautiful country for longer term visitors and ex-pats. The social, economic, and environmental costs for a cruise ship port is too great.

  10. Rodger Christopher says:

    This can do nothing but improve the lives of ALL Belizeans. It would bring us out of “third world” status and help rid us of our enormous crime rate and poverty level. The tree huggers all have an agenda. Don’t let them ruin this opportunity for us…

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