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Jun 19, 2013

Puerto Azul: Environmentalists against another hundred million U.S. dollar development

Recently, the environmental community as well as the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the Association of Protected Areas Management Organization have been united in their objection to a proposed cruise terminal and development near the Placencia Peninsula. While the Norwegian Cruise Line’s hundred million dollar project is looking for another home, there is yet another project that is developing and is also causing major concern. News Five Jose Sanchez reports on the Puerto Azul project that is being proposed on islands near the Half Moon atoll.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Blue Hole Natural Monument and Half Moon Caye Natural Monument are both located within Light House Reef Atoll.  Both sites are designated as two of the seven components that makes up the ‘Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System’—Belize’s World Heritage Site. These two sites are located just south of a proposed development, Puerto Azul. The land documents show that in 2005 under Natural Resource Minister John Briceño, a lease was given to Northern Caye Two via Barrow and Williams. Now that the land has been sold, Puerto Azul would occupy nine hundred and sixty point two acres of Northern Two Caye and Sanborn Cayes. Eleven hotels would be built on Sandbore alone, with a total of seven hundred units of living space. Dredging may also be necessary for a new airport. It is a concern for all environmentalists including Healthy Reefs for Healthy People.

 

Roberto Pott

Roberto Pott, Belize Coordinator, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People

“Well the caye has a lot of fringing reef coming right off Northern Two Caye. From what we understand there is also plans to develop Sanborn Caye and for anybody who knows Lighthouse Reeef, that has the highest turtle nesting density for all of Lighthouse Reef. Northern Two Caye, now is only one of two cayes with mangroves. So you have only five cayes on Lighthouse Reef and you have one caye that we think will be shredded to pieces by a huge marina, a mega marina. All of this is speculation now because we haven’t seen the proposal, it hasn’t been shared with the public and we have to wait until that is done.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“At least the designs that I’ve seen, it calls for a very massive complex. It seems there are several hotels on the island, it seems a lot of infrastructure. Is pollution an issue with large development in this proposed area?”

 

Roberto Pott

“Well even before the pollution, they are shredding all the mangrove so we lose allt he nursery habitat for all the fishes that depend on that one of two cayes out at Lighthouse Reef. So when you look at it, you will end up losing commercial species. We have one of the largest Nassau grouper spawning aggregation in Belize just outside of Sanborn. So the loss of mangroves, will translate into loss of fish. Not only fish for commercial consumption, but the parrot fish that depend on that nursery habitat to grow their offsprings into juveniles then go back out to the reef to keep the reef clean and healthy.”

 

Puerto Azul is also designed to accommodate a thousand guests and two thousand employees. It’s a beautiful layout that even boasts an underwater laboratory for scientific study. But the Blue Hole Natural Monument is only 8 miles south, and Half Moon Caye is 16 miles South East of Northern Two and Sandbore’s fantasy called Puerto Azul. Marine Scientist, Robin Ramdeen, has seen similar proposed developments in her home country, Trinidad.

 

Robin Ramdeen

Jose Sanchez

“How much does dredging, how much does the development, waste material; in your view, what would be your concerns?”

 

Robin Ramdeen, Marine Scientist

“Reefs globally are very stressed; I can’t recall the exact statistics, but because of climate change and the rising temperature, reefs are not in a good condition by any means. And so the last stress that we can give to those reefs as possible would be batter. So silting the reef is not good for the coral polyps; they need sunlight to be able to do their thing. And mangroves…mangroves are the nurseries for our fishes which we need for food. So at what cost should this development go through? Can we eat this development? Can we even access it? are locals allowed to go there. Is the stress something for tourists to come in and also we need to consider the burden that those tourists have on the fisheries as well. And so if we destroy them, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.”

 

Roberto Pott

“I’m not impressed with engineers who say that it can be done; tha tit can be mitigated. We’ve seen cases in the Caribbean where marinas are promised and the marinas aren’t delivered. We have a proposed port right out in Port Loyola. We started to dump and then it is left there as an eye-sore. So as a community, we are willing to make compromises, but if you don’t deliver on your side, then we are left holding the bag. And it is the people of Belize, it is the government that has to do the cleanup, it is the people of Belize who has to pay. The developers don’t pay; they walk away.”

 

One of the nearby islands also boasts a turtle nestling site, a beauty for tourists and Belizeans to enjoy. An Environmental Impact Assessment is underway but can Belize’s reef sustain the onslaught of development? Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

 

The Belize Audubon Society co-manages the Blue Hole Natural Monument and the Half Moon Caye Atoll and on Thursday the Audubon will deliver its comments on the project. 

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12 Responses for “Puerto Azul: Environmentalists against another hundred million U.S. dollar development”

  1. Belizean says:

    Like I said before, lets just chase all tourism out, chase all developers, and become a hermit country with a bit over 1/4 million people in poverty. Thats what these environmentalists want, apparently.

  2. Carla says:

    Here we go again by people who have jobs given to them by foreign enviromental groups chasing away jobs and country income for those of us who dont yet have a job from a foreigner. Who cares about the manatees and fish-I want to eat them if I catch em. Who is looking out for me? GOB-please bring the jobs and quit being influenced by gays and tree huggers and manatee lovers.

  3. Edgar Thorn says:

    You are an animal Carla.

  4. Bede Garbutt says:

    My Dad was a Lighthouse Keeper most of his life. We lived on Half Moon Caye before the Booby birds were even noticed. This area is one of the most unique areas in this Belize Barrier Reef System. Nothing close to this area should be touched, NEVER. I have never fought for much publicly before but this I WILL fight for. We have lot of land. Go make your massive man made Hotels and beaches on the lands in some of these districts. You can do a lot with computers and science today. NOT AT ‘HALF MOON CAYE’, ‘NORTHERN 2 CAYE’ AND NOT OUR WORLD FAMOUS ‘BLUE HOLE’.

  5. Belizean says:

    @Edgar Thorn….It is funny how you call Carla an animal. Have you thought about what species gays are? Definitely the actions of them are not human!! And the tree huggers and manatee lovers? Well, according to them we should all hug trees for the rest of our life and die hugging one. So lets all find a tree, and die there..Dont know where the rest will go and die..Not enough trees for everyone!! lol :) hahahaha

  6. Carlos says:

    I agree with Carla, yap these so called environmental groups, Satim, Yaxche, Tide, oceana, the list goes on all getting funds from abroad, drive fancy vehicle and live high on the hog. What happen to me the poor people, we need to live as well we need the basic human needs and so of us can’t even afford the least. I hope Edgar would eat his comment.

  7. Rick says:

    Frankly, I am not surprised by some of these comments. It just goes to show how ignorant some people are. First of all, everyone thinks about immediate returns and immediate solutions. Destroying the environment will have serious repercussions that will resonate for generations to come. Every living organism is connected to another in some shape or form. Even though we don’t realize it, we are connected to the manatees, bats, fish, etc. Everything! On another note, gays are people just like everyone else! It is only a part of who they are NOT everything! Plus, homosexuality has been seen across the animal kingdom in birds and countless mammal species: dogs, penguins, etc. Ignorance is what will KEEP BELIZE BACK!

  8. Jay Man says:

    Rick, SHUT THE HELL UP WITH YOUR ‘HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM’ RUBBISH!!!!!!!!

  9. Jay Man says:

    @Rick, SHUT THE HELL UP WITH YOUR ‘HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM’ RUBBISH!!!!!!!!

  10. belizenolongerbestkeptsecret says:

    Just a little education for some of you very ignorant people: an environmentalist is ‘a person who advocates or works to protect the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution, destruction or its effects. Most people with half a brain would say that environmentalists are good people. I wish I could say that all Belizeans were environmentalists but unfortunately this is just not true as demonstrated above by people who obviously have IQs lower than fish. Carla – whoever you are, just from your comments, I wouldn’t even hire you to clean my toilet, much less fill one of these many tourism jobs that you seem to have your heart set on. You are obviously NOT the kind of Belizean that tourists should EVER even catch a glance of. Not that my point is to bash anyone here but can you people wake up and see the truth behind all the “millions of dollars” that is blinding you?? This type of massive development will CRIPPLE the Belize marine popluation in such a short amount of time, I’d like to say your children’s children will never get to have conch ceviche but in reality, a project like this will ensure that YOU never have this pleasure again. A lobster doesn’t grow overnight! It takes about 3 years to reach maturity and then reproduce. I think all Belizeans are entitled to eat their fish, lobster, conch, etc. but they should try to be smart and sustainable so that they can continue to enjoy these pleasures for a long time. As for the ‘poor people’ – the problem is EDUCATION. Go and demand better higher education schools from GOB so more people can get Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees right there in Belize. Demand more technical schools so people can learn skills like mechanical, aeronautical, engineering, agricultural, marine, etc. INNOVATIONS and ENTREPRENEURS (business owners, FYI) are what drive ANY country forward. NOT jobs like “maid, hotel manager, tour guide”. WAKE UP BELIZE, OPEN YOUR EYES TO REALITY. GET AN EDUCATION AND THEN PUSH AND PUSH AND PUSH UNTIL YOU CAN USE YOUR EDUCATION TO BRING YOUR COUNTRY OUT OF THE HOLE.

  11. Belizeanwatch says:

    I AM TIRED OF ENVORINMENTALISTS AND CLOSE MINDED BELIZEANS. IF IT IS A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT…GO RIGHT AHEAD! LOOK HOW OTHER PLACES LIKE FIJI ISLANDS, BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA HAVE DEVELOPED! RIGHT, PEOPLE DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT IT. EDUCATE YOURSELVES AND SEE THAT WE HAVE A MAJOR POTENTIAL IN TOURISM DEVELOPMENT MY BELIZEANS! IF YOU WANT TO STICK WITH SAN PEDRO AND PLACENCIA ONLY, WE’RE NEVER GONNA CONTINUE PROSPERING IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY. ONCE IT IS SUSTAINABLE…GO RIGHT AHEAD!

  12. True Belizean says:

    @ belizeanwatch there is no such thing as sustainable development. Its a term coined by economists to trick the people that projects are sustainable and will not affect the. How many large scale projects have been carried out in Belize? Have you or anyone benefitted? The answer is no. Belizeans never benefit from tourism ventures only the investors and proprietors. Open your eyes Belize I dont knw about you but I dont want to be asking permission to a foreign entity to be able to access what constitutionally is mine by right.

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