Emotions ran high, tempers flared and words were thrown as residents of Ambergris Caye sent the message to the Belize Department of Environment and investors/developers of Cayo Rosario that they object to the proposed resort development on the tiny island. Island residents are not happy and they made that clear at the Cayo Rosario Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultation held at the San Pedro Lions Den on, Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
“It’s a Blackadore Caye scenario all over again,” commented one angry resident. “But the community of Ambergris Caye is tired of being taken advantage of by the government, greedy investors and people who just don’t take our natural environment into consideration. We are tired of it and are ready to stand up for ourselves.”
Two large pier wings extend outward on the northern and southern tips of Cayo Rosario where the 90 over water bungalows will be located
But while island residents are happy that Leonardo DiCaprio’s Blackadore Caye project has redesigned its development plan to remove the proposed over-the-water structures and been given the green light, Cayo Rosario developers have come up with 90 reef bungalows that will stick out over the water around the island.
Again, island residents have expressed that they are not fighting against the development on Cayo Rosario. Their main concern is the 80% of construction that will take place over the water and threaten the marine life that is situated in the greater part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Everyone present objecting the project is fine with the idea of the developers to construct on the island, but not on 'Queen's Land' public waters.
Blackadore Caye is 110 acres of land but Cayo Rosario is only 10 acres of densely packed mangrove, bird nesting areas, a prime area attractive to sports fishing and the nesting of the prizes and protected game fish like tarpon, permit and bonefish. The island is a gorgeous and untouched little gem on the leeward side of Ambergris Caye.
The people of Ambergris Caye know the importance of Cayo Rosario and surrounding areas for the tourism and sports fishing industry that they fought for years to have it included into the Marine Reserve. The island sits in Zone 4 of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. To have the area threatened once again by a proposed development that sets to unbalance the natural habitat is unacceptable by the community of Ambergris Caye. That is why they passionately stood against the EIA presentation last night.
Investors are claiming that the project will be developed in an environmentally-sound manner, but residents are not buying into the idea as clearly, the over-the-water structures are a threat to marine live and have negative impacts on the marine reserve. Some alarming issues about Cayo Rosario’s plans include a submarine pipe routes for electricity and waste through the Hol Chan Marine Reserve to the mainland and the proper disposal of waste water and sewage, amongst others.
The Environmental Impact Assessment for Cayo Rosario is still due for assessment by the Department of Environment and pending approval for the commencement of construction. The consultation is set up to seek the concerns of the community and tourism stakeholders in order for the developers to make adjustments and for government to consider any concerns and address them to the developers before given the green light.
The development proposes 90 Reef Bungalows that are over the water, 12 Mangrove Bungalows on land and 15 Island Villas
Residents lined up to express their concerns, while only a couple agreed with the project
Cayo Rosario is located on the leeward part of Ambergris Caye in Zone 4 of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve