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October 30
06:09 2018

REPORTER: News Staff, –

Minister of the Environment Dr. Omar Figueroa says that issuing a moratorium to stop all dredging in Placencia would be extreme without an evaluation to determine that dredging linked to an ongoing development has damaged the reef system.

The Minister was speaking with reporters this week who inquired about the dredging being done as part of a private project which some residents, four conservation groups and World Wildlife Fund Marine Scientist Nadia Bood thought was detrimental to the reef system. Bood had told the Reporter that based on images she had reviewed, she could see broken patch reefs, its impact on some of the most endangered species, smothering from sediments, and grounding of the dredge being used.

The Belize Tourism Industry Association, Oceana, the World Wildlife Fund and Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) had written to the Department of Natural Resources calling for the Moratorium on all dredging in Placencia until appropriate scientific assessments are completed on the area. This followed concerns first raised in August by a conservation group called Fragments of Hope.

But Minister Figueroa said that measure was not practical: “To put a moratorium on all dredging down South is a little bit extreme…we did ask the DoE to go and look at it to see if any corals were being damaged,” Figueroa said. “If that is the case, then we cannot allow any dredging to happen anywhere where corals have been damaged,” Figueroa continued.

The groups had also expressed disappointment over what they thought was a lack of monitoring to ensure that protocols were being adhered to in order to minimize lasting effects.

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