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Jun 9, 2022

Mangroves Cleared, Dredging Underway – What’s Happening on Placencia Caye?

An investigation is currently underway into the development that is taking place on Placencia Caye just off the southern tip of the peninsula. While the island is privately owned, residents who were out on a cleanup campaign made a frightening discovery – a major portion of mangrove had been cleared and a canal had been dredged through the island. Since then, several residents, including the former village chair and others, have expressed their concerns and reached out to relevant authorities about the situation. But was clearance given for the development? News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

What’s happening on Placencia Caye? That’s the question that residents on the namesake peninsula are asking, following the discovery of dredging activity and the destruction of mangroves on the island over the weekend. Founder of Mister Goby and Friends Recycling, Monique Vernon, was along with others on a cleanup campaign on the island when they made the shocking revelation.

 

Monique Vernon

Monique Vernon, Founder, Mr. Goby and Friends Recycling

“On Sunday we held a cleanup and our number one spot to visit is Placencia Caye for a number of reasons. One being that there is always trash at Placencia Caye and two, it is a great opportunity for us to go swim and snorkel because there’s loads of beautiful coral around the caye. We also normally see manatees feeding and it is a great place to do bird watching as well. I was wondering why I could see through the thickness of mangroves. Normally you can’t see nothing and I was seeing through the mangroves and I’m like what’s happening here. When I got closer, I realized that they had left just a skim of mangrove at the front and inside of that, everything was completely gone.”

 

In utter disbelief, Vernon got out of her kayak to find that a canal had been dug; the dredged material contained fragments of dead coral and other organism. Heavy duty machinery can be seen operating on the island which is less than two minutes away by kayak.

 

Monique Vernon

“Not only were the mangroves being cut down, but they were also dredging, it seems to be like they were creating a new channel in that area as well because there was like a hill of what seemed to be mud mixed with dead corals on that deforested plot. It broke my heart and I just started thinking about all the animals that are being displaced or will be affected some way or the other. And also the residents of Placencia because I feel like people often forget that we are living on a sandpit of a peninsula and Placencia Caye is very important to us because not only does it host a number of critical species that uses those same mangrove ecosystem as a nursery ground, a place for food and shelter, but residents of Placencia use that caye to harbor behind during tough storms and even hurricane. That caye is very important in blocking that force.”

 

Several residents, including Vernon, have written to the Department of Environment and other government departments to find out whether permits and approvals were issued to the developers.  For them, the destruction will have long-lasting effects on the Placencia community.

 

Monique Vernon

“I reached out to the Southern Environmental Association to ask them if they were aware that that was happening and it didn’t seem like they were. And Miss Reina from SEA called the D.O.E. and several offices and she told me that they said that a permit was issued for them to do dredging and clearing of mangroves. But then I messaged her back and she said she was trying to call D.O.E. again to get more information and they referred her to the mining area of the department, but when she called those departments, they never responded. I personally, a lot of us, we Googled to check the D.O.E. website if a E.C.P. or an E.I.A. was done or listed under their website, but we don’t see anything under the Enclave for the Placencia Caye. So, in our opinion, I don’t see anything happening. And when I visited that day when we did the clean up, we didn’t see no sign. Normally, when you have a permit being issued you have a four by four foot sign saying we got the go ahead to do this and here’s the permit; the permit should be embedded on that sign as well. We didn’t see any sign. I spoke to the village council and they were never aware of that happening and there was no public consultations done either.”

 

The Department of Environment has confirmed with News Five that they are aware of the situation and are currently checking with all relevant departments about the activity on the island. Following those checks they will be prepared to make a statement.

 

Duane Moody for News Five


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