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#507720 - 09/24/15 04:55 AM A Peek At Harvest Caye  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,967
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

The Harvest Caye Cruise Port – it’s one of the few mega projects ever staged in Southern Belize – but up until now, it’s been shrouded in mystery and controversy. And as it enters the final stages of construction, in preparation for a February 2016 opening, the mystery persists. 6 weeks ago, we tried to dispel all that by asking Norwegian’s Senior Vice President Colin Murphy to give us a tour of the place, but he just ignored us. So today we teamed up with some of our friends in the conservation community to go see for ourselves what it looks like. Of course, the island is private so we couldn’t go there, but we went near – near enough to get a clear sense of the scale and size of the project.

Daniel Ortiz reports:

The Harvest Caye Cruise Port - sometimes embattled, sometimes controversial, but now very close to becoming a reality - was bustling with activity today, as it had been for months now.

On its west-ward side, we found heavy equipment dredging and dumping landfill from the sea unto the island.

A little more south along the West side of the island, we found the first signs of real development: buildings, which may more than likely becoming offices, vending boots, or lodging quarters.

At the southern end, we found a small entrance, which are told, will be used by the cruise ship passengers to get on the island. A series of piles had already been driven into the water, moving out to the deeper sections of the channel, to support a mega-dock which will be built later.

Nearby, we found heavy equipment being used to drive new piles into the water.

But, the most stunning of the development we’d seen so far was what is to become the beach area for the guests brought to this island.

Piles were being driven into the earth, most likely to stabilize for the future construction in one corner.

And spanning a few hundred yards to the left, this beach - still in construction - lay sprawling on this eastward side of the island.

We got an opportunity to see for ourselves, how the fill being dredged from out in the lagoon was being pumped on the land, and later used to build more of this beach.

In the background, construction supplies, and buildings - probably in their late stages of completion - were visible.

Palm trees were being implanted onto the beach, mostly likely brought in in a similar fashion as these palms on this barge.

Near the end of our tour of the Harvest Caye periphery, we came upon the dredging of the channel which will be made for ships -such as the Norwegian Jewel - to pull up to the Caye.

This was the source of that hill of landfill we saw earlier.

It is said to be one of the largest - if not the largest - dredging operations in memory.

All of this development had taken place - and was still taking place - in close proximity to the corals and patch reef systems, only a few hundred feet away out in the water.

So, the conservationists who had been watching closely, remain vigilant, overlooking the development from afar to make sure that no unnecessary damage is done to these fragile ecosystems.

Keep carefully in mind that when this mega - 100 million dollar facility is

Only a short boat ride - 15 to 20 minutes or so - from Placencia’s mainland.

When the cruise port finishes some time next year, the plan is that Norwegian’s ships will dock exclusively at this facility – which was not what the Prime Minister had announced would happen.

Of course, there’s still a pending lawsuit before Justice Courtney Abel alleging that the Department of Environment fast-tracked the NCL project by taking important short cuts to the law.

Channel 7

#508044 - 10/06/15 04:58 AM Re: A Peek At Harvest Caye [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 52,967
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Harvest Caye Cometh

10 Days ago, we gave you a look - albeit from a distance - at the ongoing development on Harvest Caye. That's where Norwegian Cruise Line is building its 100 million-dollar cruise port and docking facility. That project will bring mass cruise tourism to Southern Belize, and the official deadline for its opening is February 2016. So, is NCL still on schedule with that timeline? This weekend we asked BTB's Destination and Cruise Tourism Director about it - here's what he said:

Daniel Ortiz
"Are we still on schedule for February 2016 opening of Harvest Caye?"

Valdemar Andrade - Director, Destination Planning & Cruise, BTB
"Yes. As far as the last conversation I had with the director of port operations Mr. Colin Murphy from NCL, yes. We are still on target for February of 2016. I think all the aspects on the island are on target. We are also working with the tour operation side of it. We are now having the detailed discussions as to what kind of tours they will be having there and being able to get those on target as well. So from our side and in terms of the cruise calls we have secured from that port, yes, everything is set for February 2016."

Daniel Ortiz
"We know that the conservationist community is always vigilant and they want to make sure that NCL is environmentally conscious and careful. Are there any sort of oversight mechanisms to make sure that no damage is done to the patch reef systems around Harvest Caye?"

Valdemar Andrade - Director, Destination Planning & Cruise, BTB
"Basically that is one of the reasons why BTB also looks at which tours will be going out, what will be the details of those tours. We work with the other agencies who are from the natural resource management standpoint like the Department of the Environment, Fisheries, Forestry to be able to ensure that those areas and also our stakeholders in the Placencia area, to ensure that the tour guides operate from a sustainable management and development point of view."

Daniel Ortiz
"Is there any sort of oversight in terms of their construction to make sure, because just from our observation, the beach that they are building is a few hundred yards or so away from patch reef systems. Is there like on site oversight from the government to make sure that those reef systems are protected?"

Valdemar Andrade - Director, Destination Planning & Cruise, BTB
"We have an ad-hoc ports committee where all the agencies are represented and from the reports that have been tabled at those, yes. The Department of Environment has by month oversight of that area to ensure that there are no major issues in terms of the management of the natural resources. Because it is an area close to the marine ecosystems. We have to ensure that all of those systems are protected."

While the different tourism interests wait until the facility is completed, the attorneys for the Government, NCL, and the Belize Tourism Industry Association are awaiting Justice Courtney Abel's decision. He will decide whether or not the Department of Environment fast-tracked the project by taking shortcuts to the environmental laws.

Channel 7

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