Press Release - ACCSD - One
month ago, the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) officially sent letters to
Martin Alegria, the Chief Environmental Officer and the Chairman of the National Appraisal Environment
Committee (NEAC), requesting a meeting and public information related to the
deliberation process in approving the Cayo Rosario development.
Both requests were denied.
Additionally, The Department of Environment, our Ambergris Caye officials (including Minister Manuel
Heredia who was copied on the letters) and the Government of Belize have failed to take any
remedial action or propose any solutions.
We are sharing these attached letters to keep the public appraised of our continued actions to Defend
Cayo Rosario and the Hol Chan Marine reserve.
As a result of the failure of the DOE to respond, we will institute legal action.
Our stance remains: Hol Chan Marine Reserve is for all Belize. We say No to dredging and over-the-water-
structures in our marine reserve.
Mega project Cayo Rosario downsized
The Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development will be seeking legal action in order to protect the Hol Chan Marine Reserve from damage that may come about as a result of the Cayo Rosario development project. The group stated that about a month ago they sent a letter requesting a meeting with Martin Alegria, the Chief Environmental Officer and the Chairman of the National Appraisal Environment Committee (NEAC) concerning the project. However, their request felt on deaf ears. The Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change, Dr. Percival Cho, told Love News that the project has been downsized.
Dr Percival Cho CEO Ministry of Environment: “Myself and the Minister we got a hands on feel of the situation there and we are looking at it very closely. I can’t make announcements yet but we are looking at the situation very closely with respect to taking into effect some of the concerns that the fishermen have put forward.”
Hipolito Novelo: “The project has been downsized tremendously?”
Dr Percival Cho CEO Ministry of Environment: “Yes by the NIAC it was downsized.”
Environment C.E.O. Says Recent Visit Was Made to Cayo Rosario
According to the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development, the Department of Environment has failed to do its proper research, having only consulted once with the residents and stakeholders. The National Environmental Appraisal Committee gave the green light to a project that will see forty-plus overwater structures built on the island. Today, C.E.O. in the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Doctor Percival Cho, told News Five that he and the Minister recently visited Cayo Rosario; this is something Billy Leslie and the folks over at ACCSD find hard to believe.
Dr. Percival Cho, C.E.O., Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development
“We did a site visit some weeks ago Hipolito, myself and the Minister. We got a hands-on feel of the exact situation there. We are looking at it very closely. I cannot make any announcements yet, but we are looking at the situation very closely with respect to taking into account some of the concerns that fishermen have put forward.”
“The project has been downsized tremendously.”
Dr. Percival Cho
“Yes, by the NEAC, it was downsized.”
On the Phone: Billy Leslie, Former Co-Chair, ACCSD
“If the department of the environment would have only come to look at these islands, they would have noted the pristine life; the delicateness of that area and how the place is full of fish, especially in a time like now when the Sargasso is really damaging the eastern side of our country. We should look at these developments and not allow major developments. And they are not even talking about their land; they are talking about placing things over what is not even theirs. They are putting forty-five structures on top of our delicate bajos; that’s not theirs. This specific island, if you take your sixty-six feet of crown land and you go around that island, you are left with a lagoon in the middle. The Department of Environment needs to do their job right.”
Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development to Sue G.O.B. for Cayo Rosario Project
The Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development is heading to court in respect of the proposed mega-tourism development on Cayo Rosario. The group says that the Government of Belize, particularly the Department of Environment, has left them no choice, but to take legal action for the proposed development in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve which they say contravenes the provisions in the Environmental Act as well as other regulations. According to the group, consisting of fishermen and environmentalists as well as San Pedranos, D.O.E. has failed to respond to any of their requests for remedial action or to propose any solutions before the approval of the unsustainable tourism project. In recent correspondence, the group sought to meet with the authorities, but got no response. Today, former Co-Chair and active member of ACCSD, Billy Leslie, told News Five that their attorney at Flores and Company Law Firm has been instructed to proceed with legal action against the government.
On the Phone: Billy Leslie, Former Co-Chair, ACCSD
“Majority of the San Pedro people are a little bit upset because the Department of the Environment is not seeing how sensitive these small islands are. In the past we have lobbied and fought for very hard to protect three species of fish: the bonefish, the tarpon and the permit. These fish have more economic value to be left alone and allowed to be caught and released by fly-fishing customers which is brining tremendous amount of money into this country. In 2015, after long, long lobbying with the help of the area representative, Minister of Tourism and our mayor along with the San Pedro tour Guide Association, the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development and countless numbers of other people, we managed to extend the Hol Chan Marine Reserve to include many bajos or shallow flats which are the habits to those specific three fish. Recently, the pressure of development—and not only development because we are not against development, we are against unsustainable development. By going to these islands back there, you will note that it is not land, they are mangrove marshes; they are not land and development is starting to happen on the habitat of those fish that are bringing countless number of dollars to this country.”