Court hearings expected soon

One infraction involved illegal dredging on the north-western side of the island within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR). The second large scale dredging/sand reclamation project on the southern end of the island has reportedly resumed activities after they were temporarily stopped for allegedly breaching their permits. According to a spokesperson at HCMR, workers caught dredging at the northern site are being prosecuted and are scheduled to appear at the San Pedro Magistrate Court on December 16, 2020. Meanwhile, other governmental entities (Mining Unit, Department of Environment (DOE), and Physical Planning) continue investigating the site on the northern end of the island. They are expected to file a lawsuit against the contractor/owner for the illegal dredging.

The dredging taking place on the southern part of Ambergris Caye has been authorized to continue its activities of extracting sand. It was temporarily halted after excess sediments drifted toward the reef. Aerial images shared by concerned residents showed sediment plumes moving eastward toward the barrier reef. Members from the HCMR made an inspection and noticed that the required silt curtains were not in place. According to information shared by Hol Chan, the company conducting the dredging informed the Mining Unit in Belmopan City about a malfunction in their silt curtains. In a statement, the company indicated that there was a tear in their silt screening system and had ceased operations and contacted the relevant authorities to address the issue. Currently, the team at HCMR continues to monitor the sand reclamation project, and from their checks silt curtains are being used. With such compliance, they will be allowed to fulfill the current terms of their permit, which will expire on December 31, 2020. It is unknown if the developer will apply for a renewal or if the Mining Unit would extend another dredging contract.

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