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#378355 - 05/26/10 01:35 PM Concerning Dredging and the San Pedro Town Board
Marty Offline
by Mike Campbell, San Pedro

A walk on the beach almost anywhere in San Pedro is very disturbing for most residents. The beach erosion is appalling and has affected our quality of life. This extreme erosion has mostly happened in the last 4 years or so. The causes of this are rather simple actually. The extreme dredging that has been conducted all along the coast of San Pedro has allowed the deep water to get closer to shore, in some cases touching the shore with the resultant loss of the beach due to erosion caused by wave action. In the future big storms will do much more damage than in the past as the natural barrier to the wave action has been removed by dredging. This is irreversible and we will have to live with it.

Both the original master plan and the new proposed master plan condemn the practice of dredging on the east side of the Island and the D.O.E. has cautioned against it as well. Why then are we continuing to dredge the coast? The problem lies with both the San Pedro Town Council and the Government of Belize represented by the D.O.E.

Our Town Council has approved all of these dredging activities that provide convenience and profit for a few while the population as a whole is paying the price for the destruction our environment. Any developer thats wants to dredge has only to ask the Town Council. Our Mayor is on record as favoring all developments. This irresponsible attitude is destroying the island as we know it. At very least these decisions are short sighted and show complete lack of understanding of the ecology of the Island and how to protect our home. Even “responsible” local developers seek and are granted permission to dredge even though they are well aware of the environmental problems associated with dredging. They can get a permit so they will. The DOE acts directly on the recommendations of the Town Council and serves no real function except to legitimize the decision.

Belize has a fledgling sport fishing industry that is currently bringing in around $30 million USD annually and employs around 1,800 Belizeans nationwide. The Bahamas have developed their sports fishing industry into a 300 Million annual business. Our fishing is much better than the Bahamas as all know. Bonefish are one of the three major sports fish in Belize. They breed and are hatched off the reef in deep water and then make their way to the shallows where they live in about 1’ of water until mature. Bonefish tend to stay where they grow up. They depend on the grassy sea bed, the mangroves and sandy flats for their existence. Studies have shown that if the environment is dramatically changed they leave and never come back as they loose the memory of that run. The flats of North Ambergris Caye and the Lagoons are critical in the life cycle of all the sport fish.

Every time the Town Council and the DOE approve dredging along the east coast of Ambergris Caye they seriously damage our chances of developing the sport fishing industry into the $300 million dollar industry it could be and further compound the damage already done to our beaches and shoreline habitats. I noticed a large dredge headed north Tuesday evening for more environmental destruct for the profit of a few. At this rate there will be nothing left for our children. They will only be able to try to clean up and try to rectify our irresponsible actions all the while cursing us for what we have done.

The Town Council should be very ashamed of these actions and we should all feel shame for not stopping it somehow. Ignorance must have played a part as no one would deliberately do this to their own home, however ignorance is no excuse when you are the government. The Town Council has consistently ignored all environmental protests from concerned citizens and environmental organizations. This head in the sand attitude can no longer be tolerated.

My son is in university in the US. I recently communicated what was happening to his Island and he was appalled. His comment was “Dad what is wrong with them, don’t they know the environment is all we have in San Pedro?” This comment was specifically concerning the Mayors recommendation that Sea Trek proceed in Mexico Rocks. The dredging permits that have been issued are even more destructive to our Island than Sea Trek would have been for Mexico Rocks by many degrees.

The Town Council must stop this irresponsible issuing of dredging permits immediately. I am tired of sitting quietly while my home is being systematically destroyed. It is time to call a spade a spade and quit pretending that everything is ok because things are not ok.

The Town Council has been involved in many permitting situations that were strongly protested by those the Town Council pretends to represent with all permits granted even though we all know they are detrimental to environment to the extreme. They should be held accountable for there actions. They can start to regain our confidence by shutting down the dredging. “What is wrong with them, don’t they know the environment is all we have in San Pedro?”

#378358 - 05/26/10 01:51 PM Re: Concerning Dredging and the San Pedro Town Board [Re: Marty]
papashine Offline
Well said.
Reality..What a concept!

#378359 - 05/26/10 01:52 PM Re: Concerning Dredging and the San Pedro Town Board [Re: Marty]
elbert Offline
I was just about to photograph the dredge setting up right now on the East (reef) side just north of the cut before tress Cocos, but thought oh what the heck, its a lost cause!
People aren't ignorant of what their doing its just blind greed.
The Dive Shops Daily Blog

#378988 - 06/03/10 10:39 AM Re: Concerning Dredging and the San Pedro Town Board [Re: elbert]
Marty Offline

To Dredge or Not to Dredge - Guest Editorial

To dredge or not to dredge along the coast of Ambergris Caye? - that is the question. Dredging near the beach and for that matter near the reef has been done in the past to facilitate projects of development either for public or private use. Today when the environment is a more sensitive issue, there have been a lot of efforts to minimize dredging almost to a standstill.

Both positions are understandable and reasonable to deal with. We understand the concern of conservationists and environmentalists and support the idea that it is damaging to the environment and will put the future of tourism at risk.

At the same time we also understand the position of the Honorable Minister of Tourism and Area Representative which is that we cannot stand in the way of development because stopping any development project also stops the creation of jobs. We also note the Minister’s position that we need to be fair because if we have allowed others to dredge in the past we need to be fair with the present applications.

However, since dredging is a very sensitive issue, we also believe that other angles ought to have been explored to find a solution without taking the risks of the dredging. Let us consider briefly, only as food for thought, other possible solutions.

A. If a narrow canal is needed for landing purposes, men can be hired to dig with shovel and dory as this causes very little lifting of silt. This was done at Mosquito Coast during the filming of the movie.

B. Sharing other landings of neighboring projects can be encouraged as the Minister rightfully pointed out that no piers or landings are private because they are on public land, so nobody can refuse you use of such landings.

C. Special permits can be granted to small pick up tucks to cross the Boca Del Rio Bridge with construction material for projects. This creates lots of jobs for locals.

D. The Town Council can build a small public ramp right at the river for delivery and pickup trucks transport the materials up north for projects. Sometimes it is not what the property owners have to say or object to, but what we need in San Pedro.

I am sure if we put our heads together, more good ideas can come forth, but unfortunately for San Pedro we are not getting those badly needed public meetings. In the meantime we hope the Town Council will put a moratorium on the dredging until the matter is resolved to everybody’s satisfaction.

Ambergris Today

#379000 - 06/03/10 12:10 PM Re: Concerning Dredging and the San Pedro Town Board [Re: Marty]
elbert Offline
Constructive ideas.
I like every one of them.
Just one little bit of confusion I see keep coming up in all these discussions about dredging...concerning Silting, Silting is certainly an issue but not a large one that deserves to be the focus of some of the debates.
Try to view silting nets as a promise of a bloodless throat cutting. Its a stain on the carpet yes, but the throat cut is much more serious, or like smoke from a fire, the damage is mainly the fire.
The destruction of the sea bed and the resulting damage to the reef from loss of habitat and the erosion of the island much out weigh the silting.
I seem to be seeing the defense of dredging as, 'We have silting nets so its OK.'
Not OK!
Thanks Ambergris Today or who ever wrote the above.
The Dive Shops Daily Blog

#379006 - 06/03/10 01:21 PM Re: Concerning Dredging and the San Pedro Town Boa [Re: elbert]
Mike Campbell Offline
Dredging is not always bad. There are many areas that can be dredged for the benefit of all an example being the river. San Mateo could certainly use the fill and the river needs to be deeper. Using dredging on the west coast of North Ambergris Caye to enhance development of residential areas to take development pressure off San Pedro is another example of responsible use of dredging in a less sensitive area. This is opposed to allowing dredging for rich investor/developers in super sensitive areas that irreversibly destroy the environment that supports us all.
It has long been the accepted practice to hand dig entry canals for boats and requires no permit. Only in the last few years has this been allowed.
The Minister is right the damage is cumulative and the impact of precedent is
one of the biggest problems. These are the very reasons it must be stopped. You dont compound a bad decision by making another bad decision. You learn from mistakes and change when need to, not simply stand by your guns.
The Minister and Town Council dont seem to realize that tourists come because of the fish and our pristine environment.
I recently had a tourist express how much nicer the water was up north and why was it so different in front of San Pedro. The answer of course is all the shallows have been dredged out.

#379019 - 06/03/10 02:12 PM Re: Concerning Dredging and the San Pedro Town Boa [Re: Mike Campbell]
krehfish Offline
The problem I have is the "we allowed others...in the past...we need to be fair with the present". Has anyone not lived somewhere, where past practice has proven to be destructive? Precedent is for Courts, not for communities where the circumstances have changed.
Flyfishing my way through mid-life crisis.


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