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A meeting turns sour after fishermen object and complain about the new changes projected to the Old Football Field and Lagoon Area in downtown San Pedro that were presented to them at a consultation meeting on Friday, January 14, 2011.

A preliminary consultation for the Old Football Field (Saca Chispas) Sunset Boardwalk and Water Taxi Terminal was held on Monday, November 9, 2010. At the meeting, the project’s overview was presented to have a waterfront development on the lagoon front to create a new destination within San Pedro Town which will consolidate water travel to serve local and international traffic, provide new opportunities for leisure and commerce, build public-private partnerships for commercial and cultural growth, promote waterfront beautification, and further the overall enhancement of Ambergris Caye as a tourist destination, resulting in an increase in overnight tourist visitation.

It was a meeting filled with mixed emotions as some thought the idea of beautifying the area, having a sports complex which is so desperately needed, as well as the parking facility are great ideas. But making major changes in the area for the fishermen was not easily acceptable to everyone in attendance.

After the project was modified since the first consultation and the fishermen having some time to weigh the options of the project, it seems that they have unanimously decided that they do not approve of the project.

These modifications were presented to at least 30 families of fishermen who are stakeholders in the lagoon area where the project is intended to drastically change the appearance and operation of their businesses at a meeting held on Friday, January 14, 2011.  The second consultation was chaotic, to say the least. The fishermen, who had held meetings among themselves prior, are now more than convinced that they do not like the changes proposed to them.

The dialogue between the fishermen and representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) turned sour as both groups strongly stood their grounds. The IDB proposes to go ahead with this $6Mil project with changes to accommodate the stakeholders’ needs, but the fishermen who use the area do not want the changes or entire project at all.

Stakeholders (Fishermen) Concerns:
*Alterations to the Lagoon Area ecosystem that will affect the tarpon breeding grounds and delicate mangroves
*Alterations to the fishermen’s existing docks which will rob them of their private docks and business
*The docks have been an ancestral part for all of the fishermen who use the area and don’t want to lose the little that they have.
*San Pedro will lose another little part of the island charm that is left from years past.
*Tourist are drawn to this lagoon-side as it is, wanting to learn more about San Pedro’s past.
*Residents do not want San Pedro to change its environment to a Cancun-like one.
*The new water taxi terminal proposed in the area will cause more congestion in the already narrow canal and heavy trafficked area that leads into the back lagoon.

The Inter-American Development Bank is offering loans to the Government of Belize to make improvements in the Tourism Sector around the country. This money cannot be used in other areas around the island like on the streets, Poly Clinic or sewage system, as proposed by those who attended the meeting. These areas are of higher importance for the island, but the $6Mil has to be used directly for the improvements in the tourism sector.

The consultation meeting was set up to determine whether residents of San Pedro approve or disapprove of the $6Mil project to enhance the Old Football Field. Results from the meeting will heavily influence the IDB’s decision on moving forward with it. With the island’s stakeholders heavily disapproving the project, it is expected for the IDB will scrap the new improvements but we have yet to know what is their next move and decisions. The island is at risk of losing this money, but the fishermen hope that an agreement can be made to use this money elsewhere on the island and not for drastically changing the environment they have been using for years.

Related Article: First Consultation Meeting

Map of projectConsultation meetingResidents post protest signs along lagoon area to be affectedResidents post protest signs along lagoon area to be affectedResidents post protest signs along lagoon area to be affected

Dorian Nuñez's picture

Dorian Nuñez


  1. avatar

    The Tarpon can relocate themselves EASILY, the whole island is full of mangroves, The only reason the Tarpons are there is because that area is where fish are always cleaned etc attracting them to feed.

  2. avatar

    "The tarpon can relocate themselves EASILY" the person who wrote this, i have a suggestion...Why dont  YOU RELCATE YOURSELF!!!!!

    Yes the island has mangroves but its not full of it!  you obviously didn't live here for a long period of time, when you could actually say that the island WAS FULL of mangroves. ......Yes the tarpons are attracted to the area because they are being fed, but that is their natural habitat, their home! YOu are fed in your house as well and you wouldn't like to be chased from it or for it to be torn down!

    So leave beautiful San Pedro as it is, I have a 5 year old son, who's great grand father was a fisherman, his grand father still is one too, his dad grew up fishing back there, and i would love for it to remain the same so he can enjoy and hopefully one day his sons enjoy it!

    I say a BIG NO to the project!!!

  3. avatar

    What they should do with the MONEY is to dredge the MUD from the lagoon it could look as beautiful as the sea infront.

    Another thing IF the fishermen don't want the Boardwalk the TOWNBOARD should demand them to keep their areas as clean and beautiful as Mr. Henkin's and Mr. Lara's. Give them atleast 6 months for them to do the changes if they dont, well for the town board to decide what to do.


  4. avatar

    Isn't  San Pedro Town, all about cultural identity... Doesn't make sense if you exclude tradition out of the cultural identity of the island.

  5. avatar

    I find it very disheartening that the town council is even considering such a project.  We are all going to be affected directly or indirectly!

    Also I have noticed that everytime a consultation meeting is held it is held in the smallest place possible to shut people out!  Our Mayor and Area Rep. need to remember why they are there in the first place.  All of a sudden a fisherman from the island is a minister and forgets what he and his family lived off of for years.

    I am 27yrs old and have very beautiful memories of growing up at the embarcadero.  Feeding the Tarpons and passing the time listeing to the fishermen recount their fish stories.  I was thought at a very early age how important it is to fight for what we believe and what we love.  I am one of the many grandchildren of the fishermen from the area and I am against this project and will stand by these gentlement that have raised their families and their community with hard work and dedication.

    I Monica Prevett, proudly stand by my Grandfather, Mr. Francisco Arceo in Saying NO!!! 

  6. avatar

    The negative sentiments expressed at this meeting does not reflect the opinoion of all the stakeholders of the back lagoon area. Those rejecting the project had made a meeting a day earlier and agreed that they will reject any proposal presented to them. I was present at the meeting and  it was evident that we were held hostage by those opposing the project. They were loud and irrespectful denying any oppurtunity for those who support the project to speak.

    I live in this area for many years now and I know that on that night we lost a good opportunity to ask for what we wanted and compromise in improving the project to our benefit. I know that the Mayor and the Minister were willing to compromise but the meeting was over taken by those who want nothing. I've spoken with several of my neighbors and they feel the same way I do.

  7. avatar

    I am not sure what the proposal of this new "beautification" process means for the embarcadero, I live abroad now but was born and raised on the island. Be that as it may, there are always two sides to the story. Off the top of my head, I can honestly say that even though the project seems to want to give an uplift to the area, it may not be a good idea simply because it robs all sanperdranos of their culture and heritage. It is true, SP is not what it was- say 10-20 yrs ago, more and more people are making the island their home, with that more violence, crime and outside interests and different views for the future emerge. So maybe the SP town board should ask themselves, what will really help the island move forward, a 6 mil dollar project that relocates the native fishermen from their daily hang out area or invest that 6 mil dollars somehwere else, for example, working on the infrastructure of the island such as fixing the water/sewer systems etc. Second, are there any special interest groups that will get the better end of this deal if the native fishermen are pushed out of this area? Who is funding this project and why do they think it is necessary to place a port of the sorts for water-taxi people. Has there been any non-profit organized groups to address the tarpon breeding grounds in this area? 

    -from a sanpedrana living abroad ... 

  8. avatar

    I do not know why these people are pushing this project for the Old Football Field/Lagoon area when they said that if the people do not want it, then they would not do it. It is clear that the fishermen do not want it. So why push it even further. There are so many other areas where that money can be invested on, where there would not be so much resistance against it. How about Central Park. The park was suppose to be beautified and it still looks horrible. There is nothing much to enjoy. How about making the park a superb area with a HUGE beach. An awesome public beach would be essential and a super attraction to both locals and tourists. Change the project. Simple as that! We can definitely use the money somewhere else.

  9. avatar

    HUGE beach??? do you know what this would mean to the seagrass bed?

    Here in simple terms: the whole island is a huge cycle - fish spawn at the reef, the juvenile marine life seek shelter at the mangroves making their way to the reef via the turtle grass seabed THAT IS INFRONT OF THE PARK :)

  10. avatar

    the area looks like crap please make it look traffic will flow better

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