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NGOS join together because dredging could affect National Park

The World Wildlife Fund’s Country Representative, Nadia Bood told Love FM that the area being dredged is not far from Laughing Bird Caye National Park and that it is one of the marine protected areas that make up the Belize Barrier Reef System World Heritage Site. Having such dredging activities near a World Heritage Site so early after being removed from the UNESCO in-danger list sends a bad message to the world. She added that the dredging could result in indirect damage to the national park and the project could undermine the health of the reefs.

The World Wildlife Fund’s Country Representative, Nadia Bood: “Regardless of whether its patch reef, it is a reef system that is important from a biodiversity viewpoint and from a socio economic viewpoint because those reef systems are used by tour guides and fishermen as well and so the reason we are dredging these reef system for promotion of a particular development is wrong. It is against the law because you are impacting your biodiversity within the area. We are going against the same issues we have put in place to try and protect the reef and our marine environment. For example the national legislations and the international agreements that Belize has signed on to protect its reef system for example we are going against that by allowing the dredging reef system in the southern part of Belize. Part of the environmental clearance for dredging is that they should use a silk curtin to be able to mark or buffer any sediment flow beyond the area which they are dredging. In that case, in the case of study in this particular project I was led to believe that wasn’t deployed appropriately or the correct mechanism was employed pretty much and so you had impacts but I have also seen imagery where by the dredge machine had collided with the reef and at one point take on water and sunk which was cause even more damage to the area.”

The NGO’s have not given up though additional permits have been given to allow dredging. Fragments of Hope indicated at least one neighboring village council is having a meeting with the Minister on other issues but the dredging will be one of the topics that will be discussed.