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Apr 19, 2013

Massive dredging on la Isla Bonita; Deputy Mayor says no EIA has been done

There are more details tonight on dredging activities taking place in San Pedro and it appears that it is a case of putting the cart before the horse. As we reported, investor Darrin Sherry was granted a license to dredge even before the San Pedro Town Council could see a development plan. But even more worrisome is that the dredging will be done in three phases presumably to avoid a required E.I.A. Already fish habitat in the Marina Channel is being disrupted.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano sat down with the deputy mayor looking for answers.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Approval for dredging in an area southwest of San Pedro Town has caused great alarm among conservationists and other community organizations on Ambergris Caye.  Permission for Royal Belizean Land Company to commence unearthing sediment in the vicinity of the San Pedro Marina Channel was granted by the Geology Department on March eighth, prior to developer Darrin Sherry receiving the blessing of the town council a few weeks later.  In fact, the project was endorsed without him having to submit a development plan.


Mito Paz

Mito Paz, Deputy Mayor, San Pedro Town

“He hasn’t really submitted a plan, a developmental plan.  He has only requested a recommendation for dredging fifteen thousand cubic yards of dredge material.  Until we see the plans, you know, he’ll probably have to submit developmental plans to the local building authority.”


A little under seventy-seven thousand cubic yards of material will be excavated.  The condition, by law, is that anything exceeding fifty thousand cubic yards requires an Environmental Impact Assessment.  The dredging, nonetheless, will be done in three phases, presumably to avoid an EIA.  Seasoned tour guide Omar Arceo, who frequents the flats for sport fishing, was among the first to sound the alarm on the development.


Omar Arceo

Omar Arceo, San Pedro Tour Guide Association

“I strongly believe that if it was done it wasn’t done in the right manner and if they never consulted they just went on and did it step by step, let’s say when [they complete] the first fifteen thousand [cubic yards] and they get the other fifteen thousand and they get the other fifteen thousand until finally they complete what is the amount of what is at the moment [being] dredged out.”


It is a classic case of placing the cart before the horse that has the local tour guide association up in arms over the destruction of mangrove cover and its surrounding marine environment.


Omar Arceo

“It will be a very serious impact because it will take maybe the next hundred years to put back that damage.  Firstly, it was a bonefish tailing flat on the lagoon side where it was between six to eight inches of water and it was all covered full percent with juvenile mangroves and maybe bigger mangroves.  That habitat is not going to be replaced because that habitat was a natural incubator with the flow of the current where the larvae, the fish larvae go in there and hatch as eggs and then reproduce, right, reproduce to where they‘ve started an incubator where the juvenile fish, especially the bonefish that is one of the most prestigious fish that we are protecting over maybe the next thirty, forty years that we‘ve been protecting it.  And on the bayside what the magnitude of the damage will do because since we’re dredging there the silt of the lagoon will go into the bay so between a turquoise water and a muddy water it will always have a muddy water that will drive away the fish that comes and feed in the habitat.”


It is a delicate balance, says Deputy Mayor Mito Paz, one that needs to be struck between environmental community and developers on the island.


Mito Paz

“The council supports the conservation efforts of the N.G.O.s and some of the community groups that are in San Pedro but it also has to look at job creation and poverty alleviation.  So there is always a balance, as you know San Pedro is one of the fastest growing communities and development pressure is always at the forefront and we’ll always have conflicts between the environmental groups and the developers.”


Isani Cayetano

“What can be done either to stop or mitigate this particular activity in the southwest part of the lagoon?”


Omar Arceo

“Well what I strongly believe, I am not against the development.  We need to balance it, the developer and the environment.  I am not against it but we need to the proper procedures.  We need to investigate, we need to do an EIA, we need to inform the public what we’re doing and bring the proper consultation.”


The area being dredged is the habitat for two fish species under protection through fishing regulations, they include the bonefish and the permit. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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2 Responses for “Massive dredging on la Isla Bonita; Deputy Mayor says no EIA has been done”

  1. Storm says:

    Sad to see our leaders corrupted like prostitutes by a little money flashed around. Residents of Ambergris Cay should read up on the right to make citizen arrests, and then use that legal power to sweep up anyone involved in illegal dredging. It’s your island, and the constitution gives you personally the right to enforce the law to protect it.

  2. Paint it black says:

    GOB was paid, a permit granted.
    Stop interfering with business, not their concern any more.
    Listen and obey. Cabinet has spoken.

  3. busha says:

    the price of progress…. we long to see San Pedro look like Cancun dont we?!?!?!? I say build a land bridge from the mainland. hee hee

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