There is significant beach erosion near Maya Beach in the Placencia peninsula. In the area, the beach has eroded up to fifteen feet. Residents say that dredging for a marina is a main contributor to the wearing down of the beach.  The sand that is dredged is then transported to other locations for landfill, but the beach, according to residents, is not restoring. The dredging company says it is part of a maintenance programme that benefits everyone. Here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo.

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Placencia’s pristine beaches are eroding away. And as the beaches disappear, residents’ concerns grow.

Jacob Friesen, Placencia Resident

“Our main concern lately has been about the erosion of our beaches. We used to go back in for a walk I would say about three years ago, me and my wife and my family would walk the beaches. That is no longer the case. It is not walkable anymore. That is where we are at this stage.”

Jacob Friesen and his family live on Maya Beach. He works in construction and he says that in the past two to three years up to fifteen feet of beach has been lost.

Jacob Friesen

“I would say that I lost two and half to three years in front of our house we lost about probably ten to fifteen feet. Some of our neighbours have put some rock barriers up to hold the sand in place. That is doing some. That should not be the case. That was not prior years it was not necessary to do because we didn’t have this issue.”

And this environment and tourism issue is being cause by dredging, just off the coast of Placencia. Footage provided by Southern Belize Media shows the dredging activity. A marina is being built.

Jacob Friesen

“All these years that I have been here as a Belizean, I am a Belizean, I have been concerned about dredging. I am not concerned about development. I am not concerned about dredging in the sea. But I am concerned about dredging in the beach. That is currently taking place as we speak here. We tried to do something about it but yes it is happening. Up to now it is happening as we stand and speak here. This happens right at the casino, at the entrance there coming into Maya Beach.  There is a barrier put up in place and then that is the colour of the marina. There are dredging that marina out and hauling that sand away to different locations.”

Friesen says that the sand is being taken to nearby cayes for landfill. And as the sand is hauled away, the beaches begin to disappear. The dredging of the beach is being carried out by R and B Construction. One of the proprietors, Bill Deaso says he has a permit from the Department of Environment.

Bill Deaso, R&B Construction, Hobbs Brewing Company

“That is all part of the maintenance programme. Because the sand flows through that so fast, the whole marina starts to full up. The DOE has stipulations with Marco that it be maintained at a certain level or else it will full up.”

Reporter

“Does the DOE approve that you take that sand…?”

Bill Deaso

“Yes, here.”

Reporter

“No. Have they approved? For example, we saw that the barge is going to the island to fill.”

Bill Deaso

“No they have not approved. So you cut the cost of the excavation so no one has to pay everything. We supplement some of the same for our needs so we can keep this marina clean which benefits everybody down the beach.”

But everybody down the beach is saying otherwise.

Jacob Friesen

“It is affecting the whole peninsula. The reason it is affecting for years, sand never stays. We know that. Sand is flowing. Sand is never staying at the same spot.  If you don’t have new sand coming in to replace the old sand that is leaving you are missing the boat because that is happening now is that the sand is leaving that is there but there is no more new sand coming in.”

Robert Lopez, Placencia Resident

“So what we are experiencing especially recently is a beach erosion. I would say in the last two months we have lost anywhere from eight to ten feet of beach right here.”

Channel 5