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Jun 21, 2013

Mega project at Northern 2 Caye rejected by Audubon

Earlier in the week, we told you about Puerto Azul, a project proposed by an Italian group that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It would be more massive in comparison to the Norwegian Cruise Line Project or the Stake Bank Project that are both currently being dismissed by environmentalists and tourism industry stakeholders as bad for the country. While Healthy Reefs Initiative had expressed their concern about the project, today, the Belize Audubon Society came out with a rejection of the proposed scope of the Puerto Azul. The project, according to Audubon could threaten the Blue Hole Natural Monument and Halfmoon Caye, which that organization manages. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The Belize Audubon Society co-manages Blue Hole Natural Monument and the Halfmoon Caye Natural Monument. But even off the coast of Belize, these sites are under threat from a mega development called Puerto Azul that would be developed on neighboring Northern 2 and Sanborn Cayes. The Belize Audubon’s objections are a national concern.

 

Arreni Palacio Morgan

Arreni Palacio Morgan, Advocacy Program Manager, Belize Audubon Society

“The project is rather massive. It is a caye of over nine hundred acres; it has eleven hotels according to the proposal, fashion centers, restaurants, a downtown area. So it is a rather big project. And at full capacity, will have about three thousand persons on the island at one time. Our position is that it is too large and it may need to be scoped, brought down, and downsized. There are components of the project that certainly won’t do; it is clashing with our environment. Example the over the water airstrip that they propose, the island for solid waste management and there is also an underwater marine laboratory. There is a marina also that will require some dredging.”

 

Shane Young

Shane Young, Marine Protected Areas Manager, Belize Audubon

“What we need to understand is that those two protected areas are components of the World Heritage Site…two out of the seven that makes up the World Heritage Site. In terms of development at Northern Two Cayes, there will be some impact in terms of the fishing industry. We are talking about massive dredging if that is the case. Lighthouse Reef Atoll on a whole has a healthy sea grass bed and if silt and sedimentation is to happen due to dredging, definitely it will have an impact on the sea grass bed. We all know basic ecology that the sea grass provides nursery grounds for the fishery and especially the commercial conch. Lighthouse Reef has a healthy conch population and definitely there will be some impact to the fishing industry. In terms of the mangrove ecosystem, Lighthouse Reef Atoll has five islands, five main cayes and out of those five, you have two that comprises of mangrove ecosystem. And again if you remove one, there will definitely be an impact on the fishing industry considering that the mangrove provide habitat for the fisheries as well. When you look at it at a tourism stand point, we have stakeholders from San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Placencia, the Turneffe Atoll that depend on the services provided by Blue Hole. Its natural service is that Blue Hole is an icon for Belize and if any sedimentation or silt or massive development is to happen, there will be some devastating impact to the Blue Hole and Halfmoon Caye. Considering that Blue Hole and Halfmoon Caye; they are popular dive sites and if heavy development will occur, what happens in the marine system is that point A affects point B. And considering that Blue Hole and Halfmoon Caye is just south of Northern Two Cayes where the development is proposed to happen, there could be some impact on the reef system within these protected areas.”

 

It is difficult for small boats to navigate the channel, so there is a possibility of the coral reef system been blown up at the northern point of the Light House Reef Atoll, to create a channel way to accommodate vessels to enter the proposed Mariner at Northern 2 Cayes.  Running aground and damaging the reef are only some of the risks associated with Puerto Azul development.

 

Arreni Palacio Morgan

“There are nesting grounds on Sanborn for protected turtles. Our biologist goes out there and gets data on nesting turtles out there.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“When you talk aobut two thousand employees and a thousand guests, you have the issue of waste material; just the simple use of soaps. Where does all that go?”

 

Arreni Palacio Morgan

“Right. It is quite a distance from land. We anticipate that there will be solid waste issues. Again this was a project proposal and we would like to hope that the EIA preparer will advise the developer to size and scale. We want responsible development, sustainable development. We understand that there is a need for investment in the country, but we want that investment to be smart because at the end of the day, some of our more beautiful icon features are the most valuable and the most vulnerable.”

 

Does the availability of jobs outweigh the possible damage to the environment? The Environmental Impact Assessment is expected to be completed before year’s end. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

 

The Belize Audubon Society hopes that the EIA preparer will advise the developer to plan for a much smaller project. 

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6 Responses for “Mega project at Northern 2 Caye rejected by Audubon”

  1. Carla says:

    so what the fuck if these environmentalists were around when people wanted to move to san pedro and caye caulker-too many people on an island???? how stupid can you get? they are so close and san pedro still has shark ray alley and marine reserve and all works well-get out of town all you foreigners wanting us not to develop? we need jobs and country needs income. go full steam ahead with Norweigains, stake bank and italians -easy on the offshore drilling though but full steam ahead on onshore drilling. traitor local collaborators with foreign “environmentalist” who already fucked up their own countries and now want to save their own souls.

  2. Belizean says:

    So much for foreign Investment, darn fool Viruses, I mean Envirusment,,

  3. Jt says:

    Carla, you have no idea about which you speak. if this plan were to approved the reef will die and the very thing the tourists come for will be gone.

    A small project makes sense there not a massive project which has little to no chance of being a profitable venture.

  4. Carla says:

    you think the people want to kill the reef and make the toruists not go there? you get some brains JT along with all others who think that development means destruction-moron-they want the tourists to see the nice fish, reef etc idiot.

  5. talk is cheap says:

    We as people need to demand better way of life….. these investments as bad as they may seem to some folk, we absolutely need them…job jobs and many more jobs I reiterste jobs.. Come on we can’t keep shooting everything down..implement safe guards so to protect watever the fear is ,wit serious penalties if rules are not followed…… you can’t believe a virgin will remain a virgin after sex, so to protect oneself , condoms are ways of keeping safe… wat I am trying to say, new job titles will be created, and we pay for those new job titles wit taxes, new environmental taxes assess on projects in question.. also a rehabilitation fund set aside should anything bad arises …

  6. belizenolongerbestkeptsecret says:

    YAY!!! Go Belize Audubon Society!! SPEAK UP for the mass number of Belizeans like Ms. Carla who have NO IDEA what they are talking about. I bet you she likes her fillet fish, conch ceviche and grilled lobster!! Well guess what??????? so do the THOUSANDS of tourists they plan to have inhabit the island. EVEN IF, SAY, BY SOME MIRACULOUS WAY, the dredging of the ocean floor and the clearing away of mangroves and the massive amount of crap/urine/soap/detergent don’t permanently damage the sensitive coral reef and the baby fish/lobster/conch (which let’s be honest, it will), then I GUARANTEE YOU that the massive influx of tourists that want “grilled grouper and snapper and lobster and conch” will WIPE OUT BELIZE in less than a year!!!!!!! And I guarantee you that the price will sky-rocket to the point where Belizeans won’t be able to afford their own fish because ‘the tourists can pay more’. Unfortunately, stupid people think that the marine population multiplies overnight. ANYONE READING THIS – Do you know how long it takes ONE fish/lobster/conch to mature? Not only to ‘eating size’ (cause I guess Belizeans will eat it at any size) but to reproductive size where they could at least replace themselves with offspring? So, again, you can call me an environmentalist but really I’m just a smart Belizean that can see through the blindness caused by the hope for more money. Our marine life and little Belize CANNOT sustain this type of development for over 1 year. Our marine life will be getting hit right, left and dead center if projects like these go through and then the Belizeans will be in the same God-damned boat that they’re in right now, except they’ll be no fish to take back home to their families. I wish I could take credit for this quote, but I can’t, it’s from a wise man (or as some of you would call him, an environmentalist): when all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover that you cannot eat money.

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