The Caye Chapel Development Group has proposed a US$250 Million 5-star resort to be built on the island over the next four years. They invited input from interested parties when they presented their Environmental Impact Assessment for the project at a public community consultation at the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies in Belize City last Thursday evening, November 30.

The project is expected to create as many as 500 new jobs during its construction phase and hundreds more once it is operational, explained Allan Herrera, who prepared the EIA. This included a social impact assessment, which Herrera noted had taken into consideration the traditional territorial fishing rights enjoyed by many Caye Caulker fishermen around the island, and that many tour guides also use the site for fly-fishing and picnicking.

One major concern raised was the amount of dredging which would be required to extend the airstrip, which is presently 1,000 meters (1km) long. The developers want to lengthen the runway to accommodate small jet aircraft, and this will require lengthening the runway by another 1,600m (1 mile) south. This did not sit well with two Caye Caulker fishermen who expressed their reservations about how silt from the dredging would impact their catch, saying they had fished the seas around the island for years, and this is where they set their lobster pots.

The project has enlisted the services of two well-known pro golfers – Lorena Ochoa and Greg Norman, to promote the resort’s golf course, which Herrera said had been built on an environmentally friendly design, using a hardy species of grass which can thrive with minimal water irrigation, so as to minimize water consumption, using environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilizers, to reduce runoff to offshore waters and to reduce sediment runoff.

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