REPORT #125 Nov 1999
WHEN SHOULD DREDGING BE PERMITTED AND UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS OF REEF AND ISLAND SAND BARS?


Produced by the Belize Development Trust

See below a letter to the Geology Department Cabinet Minister!

Which raises the questions! Should beach front island property owners be allowed to dredge channels for boats? If so, what shape, zig-zag, straight, curved? Should remote islands be allowed to fill in their leased, or owned property with nearby sand? What about ambiguous properties in places like Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye when the dredging effects tidal currents along the shoreline and other neighbors properties? Should mainland coastal sand shores be dug, or dredged and sold to other people as a commercial enterprise? If the government does not have the money to police, or catch people doing removal of sand and decide to pass a law against the practice, should the government be allowed to do pass a law that cannot be enforced fairly to all?

Coral sand is no good for house construction, because it is small shells. But mainland sand from rivers and sometimes river bars is fine ground granite rock and excellent for cement mixing and construction. Sometimes dredging of coral sand is a worthwhile purpose but how do you judge when? When it damages a neighbor's property by beach tidal flow currents it is not, maybe?

From: Green Reef (greenreef@btl.net)

Subject: Dredging in Ambergris Caye
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 10:51:45 +0000

Hi all,

Below is a copy of a letter we GreenReef submitted to Geology department regarding dredging in Ambergris Caye.

Mito

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October 21, 1999
Geology Department
Belmopan
Belize

To whom it may concern,

We, at Green Reef, are writing to express our concern about the current dredging activities occurring along the coast of Northern Ambergris Caye. For the past two months we have received reports of unmonitored dredging occurring along portions of the coast, particularly along the Tres Cocos area. The dredging operator, Al Chanona, among others, is allegedly dredging only 10-15ft from the beach and using the sand, not to fill the beach, but to fill in the land on private properties for land speculation. Green Reef understands the decision the Department of Geology made in allowing the "Beach Reclamation" project of 1999 to take place. After the devastation of Hurricane Mitch, it was determined that dredging would be permitted on public lands with the intention of benefiting the San Pedro community and tourist industry. We do not believe, however, that the dredging activity currently taking place along the Northern coast falls under the guidelines of this project. To the contrary, it is private land that is being filled with the use of Crown Lands so as to increase property value.

Dredging activity, itself, is detrimental in more ways than one to the coral reef ecosystem, not to mention seagrass habitat. Green Reef recognizes the need to dredge under extreme circumstances, but when dredging takes place for the unconscionable reasons stated above, it cannot be tolerated. Green Reef feels that it is absolutely necessary that the Ministry of Natural Resources take action now before further damage is done.

It is recommended that the Ministry assign a government organization, such as the Coastal Zone Management Authority or ideally, a local organization, such as Green Reef, to monitor dredging activities.

Sincerely yours,

Mito Paz
President, Green Reef

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