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Apr 1, 2003

Watershed association monitors Sibun River

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For some people, it’s a hard concept to grasp…how events along a riverbank deep in the Sibun gorge can affect coral in the Caribbean Sea. But that’s just what the Sibun Watershed Association, working with the Meso-American Biological Corridors project and Lighthawk, have tried to impress on the thousands of residents living along on the Sibun river. This afternoon, in an attempt to monitor the environmental impact of gravel mining, citrus orchards, cattle ranches, fish farms and housing developments, SWA took to the air to check out the status of developments on the river. What they found did not surprise them.

Rigoberto Blanco, Sibun Watershed Association

“Well we have a lot of impact, especially direct impact, we have a lot of sediment flow. And we did one of the excavators in the middle of the river and we do get a lot of sediment and that affects a lot of aquatic organisms and that flows out to the reef killing the corals. And not only the corals but a lot the fish, whenever they are reproducing, they need to go upstream and because of the sediment, sometimes they lose their track and they don’t find their way up where they normally reproduce.”

“Eleven communities within the watershed…out of eleven, nine of them depend on the Sibun River for direct drinking water, as a drinking water source. They wash in there, they swim, and with the dry season coming on right now, we get a lot of tourists from the cruise ships going into the Sibun River for swimming as well.”

“Belize is a developing country and we cannot stop anybody from doing like gravel mining. We want to work with them and work in the proper way of doing it. We don’t have the authority to stop anybody, and we don’t want to do that, we just want to work with them; and there are welcome to call the office. We normally go out there, so they might see around there monitoring most of the activities going on.”

As part of their response to detrimental activities on the river, SWA conducts regular workshops and publishes newsletters for teachers, students and community members.

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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