Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development
Dated 29th July 2009 – for immediate release
FISHING GUIDES “BROKEN HEARTED” AT DELIBERATE DESTRUCTION OF FISH HABITAT
Laguna de San Pedro used to be one of the jewels of Ambergris Caye; a habitat for countless juvenile permit as well as trophy bone fish. Yes, used to be, because as of 29th July, this priceless asset has been wantonly destroyed by dredging. If this was the only laguna being destroyed it would be unforgivable but its not. A channel is being dredged through all the mangroves and lagunas from San Pedro town north through 5 miles of pristine fragile priceless habitats. All for money and all illegally.
Wil Flack,(long time visitor to San Pedro) and Abner Marin (Tour guide, fly fisherman,) visited the site to check what was going on, and the photographs they took at the scene reveal environmental damage on a huge scale.
Says Flack, “The damage to the ecosystem is devastating. Local fishing guides routinely take clients to the lagoon which is well know throughout the world for its wonderful bone fish. Now, all that is gone, and the guides are broken hearted. We made inquiries, and found that the San Pedro Town Council approved the operation. Are they entitled to give approval for environmental vandalism on this scale? And what possible reason can there be to dredge up this fantastic piece of water?”
Adds Marin, “One of the tightest knit global communities is the sport fishing community. News about fishing, good and bad, travels like wildfire. If anglers get to hear that one of the top fishing spots on Ambergris has been destroyed by dredging, and they will, then they will simply go elsewhere for their sport. It’s so hard to make a living from tourism in these times, why has the San Pedro Town Council set out to make things worse? Is it for the sake of a few who want to engage in a get rich quick development?”
The dredging is being carried out by David Mitchell of Grand Belizean Islands Co Ltd and Sugar Caye Development, the development already in the news due to being located next to the sewage ponds of San Pedro. The dredging is to allow access for his road building machinery to reach the location of his new East West road 5 miles north of San Pedro town.
Continues Flack, “People are getting sick and tired of the way that big money from outside Belize seems to call the shots. When it comes to development, the environment is the very last thing considered, if it’s considered at all. Fines when they are levied are derisory. Belize is becoming a laughing stock in the world, its credentials as a country which takes a responsible attitude to the environment are fast fading, and it’s well known to be regarded as a soft target by unscrupulous developers who want to make a fast buck and have an easy ride.”
The ACCSD says that it is not by any means against development, there are a number developers on the island that abide by the law and have built quality sustainable developments. Developers such Dave Mitchell and South Beachs Jeff Pierce believe they are above the law and can do as they want. The ACCSD respectfully request the San Pedro Town council to individually and as a group officially state their positions on this illegal dredging by Dave Mitchell. This dredging has written approval by the board and the ACCSD would like the Town Board to explain why they are engaged in environmental vandalism as the tourism industry on the island is dependent on a healthy environment and they must protect the livelihoods of all citizens of Ambergris Caye including the tour guides.
ACCDS has spoken to Craig Moore of the Geology department and no permit has been issued for this dredging.