By Marion V. Ali
Personnel from the Lands Department have visited Hopkins Village, Stann Creek to analyse what residents there have described as “erosion of the beach”, a phenomenon which was first observed last week, and which now has resulted in the disappearance of as much as 12 feet of shoreline in that community.
The investigation is looking to determine if the placement of a groyne, (an underwater structure like a fence built from the ocean shore and extending out to the sea, and which can interrupt water flow and limit the movement of sediment) three years ago by a resort north of where the erosion is taking place, is the cause of the sudden disappearance of the shoreline. It is also looking at whether the Department of the Environment has given any approval for the structure to be placed where it was found.
The economic fallout are not yet in, but since the beaches have been disappearing, tourists have cancelled trips to Hopkins and some who were already there have shortened their stay. Aside from the loss in revenue for this prime tourist destination, the occurrence has also had a negative impact on coastline properties, some of which have already lost fences and coconut trees to the Caribbean Sea encroachments.
Coastline residents of Hopkins who are affected have been trying to salvage whatever trees they still have by packing sandbags around the remaining ones and along the edge where the sand now meets the sea. They have described what used to be a pristine beachfront as a “cliff” because there is now a sudden drop of almost two feet in some areas, instead of a gradual descent into the water. The erosion is happening at such a fast pace, that one resident said in just one night two feet of the beach had been washed away..
The Ministry of Tourism is also paying keen attention to the phenomenon since Hopkins, being one of the country’s more beautiful natural attractions, has played an important role in earning tourism dollars in the south.