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Dredging Operations Ceased on Cayes

Upon receiving several calls from the island, Deputy Prime Minster Gaspar Vega dispatched a team from the Ministry of Environment and Lands on Friday, February 15, to the island to crack down on developers dredging or cutting down mangroves without proper permits.

A team of four from the Department of Environment (DOE) came out to Ambergris Caye to look at development on the island that was occurring without proper clearance from the Department. The team came out in response to a growing concern that many developments were occurring illegally especially in neighboring cayes west of Ambergris Caye. Illegally meaning they had not acquired permits to dredge, to clear land, and their overall development activity had not been processed through DOE and other relevant agencies.

Prior to the visit from DOE, on February 13th, members from Hol Chan, the San Pedro Business Association, and the town council had responded to reports that there were illegal clearing and dredging for development occurring on one of the islands on the west side of Ambergris Caye. After visiting the area and checking with the relevant agencies involved, it was found that this development had no permits to do anything.

The main concern of the Business Association, Hol Chan, Green Reef and of most persons is that these cayes have been known by most locals as bird sanctuaries and places for fish to lay their eggs and the ecosystem to grow. With the cutting down of mangroves and selling of these islands soon there will be no place for these birds to nest on, they’ll become extinct and there will be no place where local fishermen can take tourist for fishing or bird watching.

Mr. Elito Arceo from the Business Association provided the boat for the day where a team from the DOE along with members of Hol Chan, Green Reef and the media visited several cayes around Ambergris Caye where dredging and mangroves were being cut down. There were only few developments on the entire island that required action. The majority were found to be in compliance with the environmental regulations. Many of the developments had environmental clearance or were in various stages of the permitting process.

Islands visited were, Cayo Rosario(Guana Caye), Little Guana Caye, Iguana Caye, Deer Caye and Bracilette, where mangroves had either been cut down, dredged or marked for dredging and cutting. Cayo Rosario and Bird Caye are known for being the home of the Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egrets, White Ibis, Tri- Colored Herons, just to name a few. These birds feed and nest on surrounding cayes and wet lands and for this reason it is important that all of these critical habitats be preserved and protected from destructive activity or development.

The Business Association along with Hol Chan, Green Reef and other departments urge the people and businesses of San Pedro to have a sense of pride and help protect these wonderful areas, not that development is not welcomed but let us go through the proper procedures so as not to affect these animals and trees which help make the island a top tourist destination.

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