Residents in Placencia Village including tour operators, fishermen and environmentalists are concerned about the water visibility in the nearby cayes. The waters became opaque sometime in mid June and while residents believed the water condition would clear up in a short time, the situation has remained the same for close to two months now. Environmental Consultant and resident of Placencia Village, Adrian Vernon says there is limited to no visibility in water that is thirty feet deep to as shallow as one foot.

Adrian Vernon – Environmental consultant
“Typically you should be able to at least come out on a day like today on a day that is pretty calm, you should be able to see up to 30 feet of water visibility, no problem, being able to identify even conch sitting at the bottom of those steps, you can’t do that out here today not even in three and a half foot of water, it is pretty bad. Visibility has been pretty much zero in most places. Normally my work has me doing shallow testing on seagrasses, the 15th of last month when I did my sampling in depth that is a foot or less I couldn’t take picture of my seagrasses because of the fact that the visibility is so poor.”

Dalila Ical - Reporter
You mentioned you have been working in Placencia for about ten years, have you seen anything like this before?

Adrian Vernon – Environmental consultant
“Like this? No, never before. The only thing I would say may have compared to it some years ago was when we had the red tide bloom off the coast of Belize and that wasn’t anything near to what this is doing, the extent that we see this coverage in terms of visibility.”

Dalila Ical - Reporter
Would you be able to say how far this affected area extends into the sea?

Adrian Vernon – Environmental consultant
“Well as far as we have been seeing even by satellite maps and visible on the ground is the fact that this thing is as far up as Tobacco Caye in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve running down along our barrier reef down into Honduras.”

The prolonged condition in the sea water is now taking its toll on residents of the village especially on fishermen like Villamar Godfrey, a senior fisherman who has been in the trade for over fifty years.

Dalila Ical – Reporter
“Is this something that has been happening before, or is this the first time?

Villamar Godfrey – Fisherman
“Never in life, never in life, it used to get dark with flood waters but three days, four days it’s gone but now it’s for months now.”

Dalila Ical - Reporter
I understand that you as a fisherman and many others who do the same are affected by this situation.

Villamar Godfrey – Fisherman
Yes, because you can’t find the lobster, you can’t even see the rock to get the lobster out the rock.

Dalila Ical - Reporter
And it is also affecting your other fin fishing as well?

Villamar Godfrey – Fisherman
Yes, everything.

Dalila Ical - Reporter
How has the situation been in that case, you guys live from your fishing?

Villamar Godfrey – Fisherman
“Everybody is punishing from it because you can’t catch anything. The Cooperatives is out of fish, out of a lot of things because nobody is going out, you go out and you can’t get nothing much and you have to come right back in.”

Dalila Ical - Reporter
The areas being affected are these ones that are rich in terms of fishing?

Villamar Godfrey – Fisherman
“Yes that is the greatest area. All along the main from Seine Bight you used to catch a lot of lobster but you can’t again, you can’t see. For the week sometimes you made almost $1,000.00 but now you don’t make anything, you make $40.00 or $50.00 nothing like what we use to make because you can’t see. You can’t see the rock and if you hook a lobster and you have to come back when you go down he is gone.”

There have been many theories as to what could be causing the problem including the possibility of it being an algae bloom. So far however there have been no definitive assessments made. The first water samples were taken last week Tuesday, August second by officers of the Fisheries Department who visited the affected areas along with representatives of the Southern Environmental Association, SEA and the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, TIDE. The results of these tests are still pending.

LOVEFM