November 22, 2016
The news is mixed on the proposed Blackadore Caye development in Belize. Blackadore Caye is the Leonardo DiCaprio development near San Pedro, Belize. The development proposes extensive overwater structures – large docks supporting two-story houses – to be constructed over the flats. The negative impacts to the flats surrounding the caye would be significant. In addition, the development is within a protected marine reserve. There is also concern that if this development is approved, more developments with overwater structures would be proposed, further impacting the flats fishery of Belize.
Bad news #1: Despite the scientific data on the negative impacts these structures would have on the flats, and the strong local push against the overwater structures, the Belize Department of the Environment gave approval to the development – including the overwater structures.
Good news #1: The developers released a statement stating that, despite the approval of the overwater structures, they are officially removing these structures from the development in response to the strong local pushback against them. This is a great change, if indeed it occurs. Previous statements to this effect were reneged upon.
Bad news #2: The approval by Department of Environment of the Blackadore Caye overwater structures has opened the doors to other developers. This has been a big fear all along – that Blackadore Caye would set a precedent that would threaten flats habitats throughout the country. There has already been a proposal by a developer to place 60 overwater structures around the island of Cayo Rosario, which is not far from Blackadore Caye, and is also within the marine reserve. There are also rumors of another development proposal that includes overwater structures, also on a nearby island.
We are pleased that the DiCaprio and the Blackadore Caye Development Group have agreed to remove the overwater structures from their development plans. But they need to do more. We strongly suggest that they petition the Department of Environment to rescind the approval of overwater structures. This will do three things:
Remove the precedent from the books (which other developers are already trying to exploit);
Prevent the Blackadore Caye Development Group from constructing overwater structures at a later date (when the public eye is no longer focused on them);
If the Blackadore Caye development is sold to a different owner, rescinding the overwater structure approval will prevent the new owner from constructing overwater structures.
Leonardo DiCaprio paints himself as a global champion of conservation. The responsible action here is to undo the damage that has been done in respect for the long-term health of Belize flats habitats and the fishery.
More on this can be found on Facebook at Defend Blackadore Caye, and in the current issue of Southern Culture on the Fly.
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