The quality of water that runs through the pipes isn’t the only issue that is pressing on economies of islands like San Pedro and Caye Caulker. The lifeline of the cayes are divided between tourism and fishing. And as it turns out, cleaning the reef is a niche market that is mostly unheard of in the Jewel. But two businessmen from Louisiana hope to introduce Belize to its brand of cleanup. According to the Gulf South Steel partners, they can perform salvage operations when ships, yachts and other vessels are grounded on the reef.
Paul Koffler, Partner in Gulf South Steel
“We’re looking to see what resources we have to get to to get to clean up a lot of the reef. We’re aware that Belize has the second largest barrier reef and that some ships ran aground on the reef and we want to see what we can do to extract the ships away from the reef and protect the reef from endangering the environment.”
“Recently, we have had a lot of ships—one large example is the Westerhaven—I knew they had to bring in tugboats from outside of Belize to come and remove this very large vessel that destroyed a portion of our reefs. What do you think that you can bring? Is this something permanent? How much does it cost?”
Mike Easterling, Partner in Gulf South Steel
“Well actually it’s a two prong thing that we want to do. The first thing we want to do is come in and clean up; you there are a lot of smaller ships and barges that get run aground on the reef and just get left or even in the ports—to clean that all up out of the water because it is better for the environment. And the second thing is to take out of service ships and have an ongoing business of demolishing those ships in a safe environmentally friendly way; creating jobs for people in Belize and at the same time ensuring that the environmentally friendly remediation and destruction of the ships. And also a portion of the money that we make will from the demolishing of the ships will go back to conservation of the manatees and sea turtles.”
“Has any dialogue started with perhaps the ports, commissioner or any relevant government body?”
“Well we started working with BELTRAIDE about three years ago, but with the economy, it didn’t really allow us to come back in the country to where we can start this project. Well you know our economy in the states has improved a little bit better to where we can work with them and see what we can do about getting our permits and getting our equipment down here.”
“How soon should we be seeing you operational?
“I would hope in the next couple months.”