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#382631 12/11/07 03:51 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,416
OP Offline
i see it as the ruining of belize.

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
still digesting, but looks like hell at first glance

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
I just bit my tongue

White Sands Dive Shop
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
There is nothing in that article that looks untrue with what I feel is happening.
Just last night I listened to a presentation by The Hol Chan Marine Reserve about expanding the reserve area to prevent this kind of thing from happening to the mangrove islands next to the reserve at the southern tip of ambergris. The effect would be devastating to the reserve if they where dredged up like the islands in that article, to prevent it they would like to include into the the reserve the sea bed of turtle grasses and mangrove cayes next to the reserve.
The little cayes that I used to take tourist to birdwatch in the back of ambergris have had the sea bed dredged up to fill the island and the mangroves cut after the government of Belize sold them. This dredging and fill is permitted, as in issued written permits, by the ministry. The illustration in this article showing the dredge marks, cut mangrove and the fill location is exactly how it looks when it happens. Cayo Espanto was one of them. It used to have a cute little lagoon in the center of a littoral forest ringed by mangrove. I quit taking tourist to the back of ambergris altogether 6 years ago.
I don't see it as a ruining of Belize but as a warning of what can happen if we continue in this direction, I saw last night the Hol Chan folks are savvy, very aware and taking positive action to prevent it from being our sad epitaph.

White Sands Dive Shop
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,479
I was just looking at the website noted in the PDF and it has the property in the Drowned Cayes not the Pelican Cayes. Not that it really makes any difference, it's sad anyway.

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 732
Wow... The trapeez acts and submarine they tout in their promo video just look super cool... And the gold shovel they used at their ground breaking (ie, dredging) ceremony MUST mean that the project is off to a great start. This really might BE the investment opportunity of a lifetime!!! Count me in!!!

Man... this is just so freakin' idiotic on SO many levels it makes my head spin. Do people actually BUY INTO things like this? If so, I'm gonna sell shares in the bridge at Boca Del Rio!!! I love the pics of Bora Bora they have on their video. If anyone has problems watching the video they can come over here and I'll show you the tropical architecture books they scanned the pics out of... we have them here as coffee table books.

Here's an idea: next time the guys who are behind this set foot on BZE soil, arrest them at the airport and hold them until they provide proof that all their permits are in place.... and then put them through the wringer with an EIA. As incredibly short sighted as the GOB can be, and as many back door deals that get pushed through the system, I cannot for the life of me imagine this will ever get off the ground. Sadly, what will probably happen is it'll take a while to halt it and in the meantime, some pretty incredible part of the country will be covered in muck and suffocated.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Dredging in Pelican Cayes threatens World Heritage Site
It was big news when word leaked out that government was considering the de-reservation and sale of thousands of acres of Bacalar Chico National Park on Ambergris Caye. But while public reaction was strong and justified, with little fanfare, a hundred miles to the south, activities were taking place that threaten to destroy one of Belize's most ecologically important marine areas. News Five's Stewart Krohn reports.

Stewart Krohn, Reporting
These remarkable pictures were taken in 1993 as part of a documentary called "The Sea of Belize." The site chosen for the underwater photography was the Pelican Cayes southeast of Dangriga. They were selected because of the pristine condition of the mangrove islands ... a place where thousands of years of ideal circumstances created a diverse environment of corals, sponges, and other marine life unparalleled in Belize or the entire Caribbean. The unique value of the area was recognised in 1996 when the Pelican range was included in the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve, one of seven sites comprising the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site.

But that was then ... and this is now. On many of these once untouched cayes, the mangrove has been slashed and the surrounding sea bottom dredged for fill to take its place ... all in the name of development.

Stewart Krohn
"The land I'm standing on was not too long ago just mangrove and water. The question that arises is whether this transformation was a good thing or bad and whether we should even care."

This week some people who care very much paid a visit to the Pelicans. They represent a sampling of relevant government departments and the NGO community. Since the names of the individual islands often vary, depending on who you talk to, the group uses G.P.S. coordinates to confirm the locations. Their questions range from the specific-such as whether the proper permits have been obtained from the Geology and Forest Departments-to the broader concerns of environmental protection.

Julian Lewis, National Federation of Community based Co-managers
"The activity that has taken place here is destroying the natural beauty of the island."

Julian Lewis of Dangriga heads the National Federation of Community-Based Co-Managers. He has watched the changes taking place in these waters and believes that things have gone too far.

Julian Lewis
"Having a title for a property you definitely have rights, but within that same right you also have certain responsibilities. You cannot just develop it in any reckless way. We have to always put conservation first."

But keeping conservation first is definitely not what is happening in the Pelican cayes. What is happening is tourism ... or in this case, the environmental degradation that precedes it.

Here at Manatee Caye and neighbouring Fishermen's Caye a U.S. group has denuded the islands to make way for Treasure Cove ... what its website says will be Belize's first mega resort, complete with spa, casino, and six dozen over the water cabanas.

Of course, despite its pitch for investors and promises of the good life, all these mega-developers have managed to do so far is destroy one of Belize's most ecologically critical areas. And the destruction on land is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Dan Miller runs the Smithsonian Institution's research station on Carriebow Caye.

Dan Miller, Smithsonian Institution
"The problem is that one, they first have to clear the mangroves off and when they do that, the mangroves are the source of the island in a lot of cases, in other words the detritus, the dead leaves, the dead material falls down, that's what gives the island its structure, its base. So when you take the trees away, number one you lose that. Number two, then after they take the trees away then they bring fill material from surrounding areas, which means they have to scour the bottom, so they kill whatever is on the bottom. They pump it up here and if you look around you'll see shells and coral and all of this dead stuff. That fill material when they first pumped it into the island is like a slurry and it's like the finest, lightest particles. It's like sugar mixed with water and if they don't put proper barriers or containment, then what happens at high tide all of that stuff washes off and now it runs into the reefs, which all of these islands are surrounded by coral reefs, and that sediment settles on the coral reefs."

And some of those coral reefs that looked so healthy in 1993 are today fighting for survival.

Melanie McField, Coordinator, Health Reef Initiative
"What I see on the roots of the mangroves are sponges and oysters and tunicats that are very covered in silt."

Melanie McField, a Smithsonian researcher and Coordinator of the Healthy Reef Initiative, has been studying Belize's coral reefs for almost twenty years and she's not optimistic.

Melanie McField
"Some amount of time and weathering will make things come back. Nature can be resilient, but one thing that won't come back is all those mangroves that have been cleared. The island is changed. They've left this fringe. ... When I went in there you still do have juvenile fish swimming around the fringe, but how long that's gonna last it's yet to be seen."

That something like this could happen at all, let alone in the middle of a World Heritage Site, is disturbing to say the least. And while at this point it is not clear to what extent existing dredging and mangrove cutting regulations may have been violated or ignored, the legal framework for protection of vital marine resources is far from strong.

Melanie McField
"This whole area was created as a marine reserve to protect the underwater environment and that's what-I think we have a gap in the permitting process that's really focussed on the land system and not really looking at what it's doing to the subtidal areas."

Yvette Alonzo
"We would like to see for example, more transparency, better criteria that are set in terms of how to manage these areas. ... And that's all we're asking for, we're asking for a plan that can tell us and guide us in terms of what coastal development should occur, where, and how."

And while those decisions may be difficult, for us to bury our heads in the reclaimed sand is perhaps the worst solution of all.

Dan Miller
"The reefs around here had life and have life that are unequalled anywhere else and that's why they made it a World Heritage Site. The idea was to maintain and protect it."

Stewart Krohn
"We've been on three cayes now and every one it's the same story. Isn't it a little embarrassing in almost 2008 that we're still doing this kind of thing?"

Melanie McField
"I don't even know if I'd say still doing it because I don't think in '96 when the World Heritage Site was declared we would have done it. The government would have said no."

Meanwhile, the filling continues, in different ways, both inside and outside the protected areas. Private homes, resorts, some displacing mangrove, others creating land where none existed before.

Stewart Krohn
"The technology for filling these cayes is not particularly difficult. A suction dredge, dragline or excavator can all do it pretty easily ... and with a thousand more islands just like this one, it may only be a matter of time until a true Belizean mangrove caye exists only in the history books. Stewart Krohn for News Five."

The legal situation regarding the marine reserve is not clear and we are attempting to ascertain who owns each caye and which projects actually have valid dredging and mangrove permits. What is clear is that the patchwork of regulations governing activities in Belize's coastal zone do not provide a comprehensive framework for environmental protection.

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Usher's Outraged At

South Water Caye Dredging

"I'll take it up with NEAC" - that's what CEO of the Ministry of Natural
Resources Allan Usher told us today.

NEAC is the National Environmental Appraisal Committee and Usher is
referring to the dredging of a number of islands in the South Water Caye
World Heritage Site.

Usher says NEAC should never have approved the dredging. And while we
admire his outrage, as CEO, usher probably didn't get the memo which makes
it established practice that even within reserves, NEAC does not review
mining licenses - those are the sole domain of the Geology Department.

Usher told us about the NEAC inquiry as he extended on his explanation that
his Ministry of Natural Resources knows nothing of who has bought or gotten
tenure to the islands in the Pelican Caye Range.

But someone does have tenure to those islands and was issued mining
licenses which authorised the dredging.


Did dredging of Pelican Cayes contravene permit?

In a follow up to our story last night on environmental degradation in the
Pelican Cayes, News 5 has been able to determine, based on data supplied by
the Geology Department, that two dredging permits, each for sixteen
thousand cubic yards, were issued to Treasure Cove Resort in 2006.

An initial comparison of the coordinates on the permits and the actual site
of the dredging indicate that the fill may have been extracted from a site
some six hundred and fifty feet away from the approved area.

It also appears that on one of the two cayes, mandatory containment devices
were not used, resulting in accelerated runoff into the surrounding coral
studded seabed. We have not yet been able to determine exactly when the
cayes in the marine reserve passed from government to private ownership or
who precisely owns the two cayes.

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
December 17, 2007
The Association of Protected Areas Management Organization along with W-C-S, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, BELPO, and representatives from other environmental organizations have issued a release asking government to take action on the issue regarding the Pelican Cays Range. APAMO reports that based on a site visit they conducted at the end of last month, they are able to confirm that substantial mangrove clearance, dredging and land filling has occurred within approximately the last year on at least three cays. These include Manatee Cay, Fisherman Cay, Ridge Cay, and Little Peter Cay. APAMO says that underwater inspection also showed considerable disturbance to the seabed, sea grass and coral communities due to the removal pf seabed, sand, silt and coral rubble in these areas. APAMO says these actions go against declaring an area as a protected area and Belize's commitment to the world since these areas form part of the South water Cay Marine reserve which is part of Belize's Barrier Reef World Heritage Site. APAMO is also asking the Department of Land, Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and geology to verify whether or not these activities are being carried out legally based on the interpretation of the multiple acts and regulations governing the set of activities within the Pelican Range.

Meanwhile, the current increase threats to protected areas have promoted several environmental organizations to carry out training for park rangers. Today a total of twenty park rangers from six protected areas management organizations began a training course at the Police Training Academy. These rangers are from the Belize Audubon Society, Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, Friends of Gra Gra Lagoon Conservation Group, Community Baboon Sanctuary Women's Conservation Group, Aguacate Management Team, and Steadfast Tourism and Conservation Association. The five day training will build greater confidence in the application of the laws governing protected areas and will advance the role of the protected areas management organizations in the conservation through the effective management of eleven protected areas. Rangers will train in methods of arrest, how to give evidence in court, power of writing, power of search, how to collect evidence, as well as on the forestry act, the national park act, the wildlife protected act and the role of co-management. It is expected that with the knowledge obtained the rangers will be able to conduct more tactical patrols with effective results. The training is providing the opportunity for the rangers to develop and relationship with the members of the police department thus fostering greater efficiency, collaboration and cooperation in protected areas management and protection. The training is part of APAMOs strategy to build and maintain the capacity of its member agencies and strengthen institutional partnership and forge new ones and is made possible with the collaboration of APAMO, the Forest Department, the Police Department and PACT.

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 5,255
shit. this really sucks. my heart weeps.

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