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Jul 1, 2009

Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary surveyed for sale

Story PictureThe Belize Barrier Reef System has been placed on the UNESCO Danger List. This follows an evaluation by UNESCO which found that the government appeared to be managing mangrove islands as unprotected national public lands and not as a part of the world heritage property. On June nineteenth, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega, went ballistic in the House over the issue and blamed his predecessor in this manner.

Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister
“The significant outcome of the report is that Belize may be considered for immediate inscription on the list of world heritage in danger. The past administration and principally, I must stare at him and say the Honourable Johnny Briceño, Leader of the Opposition for now, under his stewardship embarked on a self-destructive program to deprive and to rob. Yes, literally rob the people of this country and the world in extension in the sale and granting of leases in these precious sites.”

Well, documents available to News Five show that the Ministry of Natural Resources has approved the survey of an area comprising a little over fifteen acres of the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary for eventual sale or lease to three persons. While the sanctuary is not part of the barrier reef system, it was reserved back in 2002 and is located at a few miles east of Belize City in an area known as Drowned Caye Range. According to the documents from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the approval for the survey was given as recent as May twelfth, 2009. The survey was done on May twenty-eighth in the names of Sharon Fraser, Wayne Fraser and Rurico Alvarado. Each parcel comprises five acres plus and the area in question is located at the tip of Mapp’s Caye.

The Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses nine thousand acres of sea and mangrove and is managed by Friends of Swallow Caye, a non profit conservation NGO that focuses on the protection of endangered manatees and other forms of marine life. The NGO is funded by the U.N.D.P. and PACT. This afternoon, News Five spoke to Lionel “Chocolate” Heredia, president of Friends of Swallow Caye, who said that he was not apprised of the survey but that if this is so, then it would be in violation of the sanctuary.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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