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Jun 26, 2023

Minutes of NEAC Meeting Raised Concerns about PMB and Manatees

In other news related to the proposed Port of Magical Belize development, News Five has obtained a copy of the minutes of a meeting held in February 2021 by the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, NEAC.  The meeting convened three months after the Briceño administration took office was attended by twenty-three members of the working group, including Chief Executive Officer Doctor Kenrick Williams, chair of NEAC.  Records of the discussion pointed to several concerns, together with pending approval for the use of the seabed.  Concerns were also raised by the late Vivian Belisle Ramnarace, the representative for the Fisheries Department, in respect of the West Indian manatees found near the proposed development site.  Ramnarace flagged the proposed port and peninsula as possible threats to the marine mammals that are important to that area.  Elsewhere in the eleven-page document the representative from the Belize Ports Authority also recommended that input be given from manatee expert Jamal Galvez. Similar concerns were also raised by the representative for the Southern Environmental Association. C.E.O. Williams, in his capacity as chair, asked whether the issues raised by the members can be addressed in an Environmental Compliance Plan, which would include a manatee management plan. He subsequently questioned whether a detailed study on the movement of manatee was necessary at that juncture or if environmental clearance can be granted with the strict terms that there are adequate monitoring and management mechanisms in place. Earlier today, David Gegg, principal for Portico Enterprises, provided a copy of a manatee management plan to News Five but it is unclear if the document was presented to or approved by NEAC.

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