Photo: Xcalak, Mexico. Patrick Williams
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust joins the scientists at ECOSUR in opposing the proposed deepening and widening of the Zaragoza Canal, which is just south of Xcalak, Mexico, and used by bonefish during their spawning migration. The dredging of the canal will create heavy sedimentation that will damage adjacent habitats, including the coral reef, seagrass beds, and sand flats.
Additionally, the increased depth of the canal will increase currents, which will scour sediments from the adjacent sandy habitats, causing further damage. When the sediments that are suspended in the water eventually sink back to the bottom, they will cover seagrass, corals, and the organisms that live in and on the bottom. This will smother and kill these organisms. Dredging to maintain canal depth will cause the above problems with sedimentation to repeat.
Moreover, the deposition of the material from deepening the canal will likely destroy nearby mangroves. Countless more mangroves will be lost to the additional development that will result from deepening the canal. This will cause habitat damage in the region, which includes protected areas in Mexico and Belize.
The resulting increase in boat traffic will inhibit this bonefish migration, which will negatively impact the important tourism-based recreational flats fishery. Instead of conducting this project, which will cause lasting ecological damage, investment should be made in local eco-tourism-based activities that are sustainable, including the recreational flats fishery, scuba diving, bird watching, and similar activities.