Marine Biologist: Why Crawl Caye Doesn’t Make Sense

Last night, 7News told you about the proposed development in the south by the cruise tourism company, Norwegian Cruise Line. The development plan includes building a cruise port on Crawl Caye, which is near Placencia. Crawl Caye is a privately owned island currently on sale on the internet.

But because Crawl Caye sits inside a UNESCO World Heritage site, the environmentalists believe that GOB should not entertain the proposal at all.

We asked Dr. Melanie McField about her expert opinion on the topic.

She started by explaining that her organization has been having the very same difficulties our newsroom has been having in trying confirm the report.

Dr. Melanie McField – Executive Director, Healty Reefs Initiative
"We've heard bits and pieces mostly from the stakeholders in the Placencia area the resorts and the BTIA down there. People are beginning to talk about a deal or proposal that is under way for Crawl Caye which is primarily a Mangrove island ringed by coral reef. I think three sides of the island is surrounded by Coral Reef and it's inside the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve which is also one of the World Heritage site. The Tourist Board has commissioned two reports. One was in response to a previous discussion about whether or not to have a cruise terminal in Placencia a few years ago and they commissioned a consulting firm that came down and talked to people. There were consultations up and down the coast and all the communities. With the result of that it was very clear that the communities don't want it.

The only thing that should be considered is pocket cruise - the smaller cruise ships and they mentioned that Commerce Bite was probably the best port to put them into, so a little further north. So I would say that the board should look at their own reports, there was that report and there was the sustainable tourism master plan that was a multi-million dollar plan that was just finished last year and that clearly says the same thing. Not in Placencia and not mass tourism in that area because the area is not ready for it."

McField told us that GOB must consider the potential damage to the Barrier Reef, which is very near to Crawl Caye. Those include the cruise Ships’ large Footprint, the fact that they need deep waters to maneuver, the need for dredging in mangrove areas - which is illegal - the siltation of the coral reefs when these ships berth, and the garbage waste that the cruise tourists will generate.

Channel 7

Hon Hulse Speaks On Crawl Caye

Earlier on in the newscast we had marine biologist Melanie McField’s comments and concerns about the proposal for a Cruise Port in Southern Belize. Well, during her interview, Minister in charge of a Cabinet Investment Committee, Godwin Hulse called us. He told us that all the fuss that’s being raised is premature – because nothing has been agreed upon and talks are at a very preliminary stage. He said that the Cabinet Committee did meet with Norwegian Executives, but that was simply for government to lay out the regulatory parameters of what would be required for tourism, environment and fisheries before an investment is made. He said it is now up to Norwegian to take all this information back and decide if they want to proceed. He agreed that there is a draft Memorandum Of Understanding but that is a quote, “non-starter” because they “are not at that stage at all.”

Channel 7