Update: Dredging of Coral Reef for Coast Guard base in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
sre at caribsurf.com
Thu Jan 25 02:25:35 EST 2001
I've had quite a lot of response regarding this issue, and thought it appropriate to continue to update the entire list. My appologies for any inconveinence.
As far as an update goes, I really don't have any good news. I don't think the dredger has arrived yet, but it is due very soon. The chances of stopping and or delaying the act are not good at all. As I mentioned before, the US Military are not directly involved in the process of dredging or piling (even though they are involved in other aspects of the project), and have been actually invited by the SVG government to assist in the construction of the base. They have therefore washed their hands of the situation. The local officials are not willing to delay the project. Both the US Millitary and local officials have stressed the need to stick to a very tight schedule, as any delay (even a week) would prevent the project from being completed.
I've pretty much talked to everyone I can think of locally. The result being that I've been told point blank that there is nothing that can be done. I can file an appeal with the planning board, but that board doesn't meet until next month, and there was definitely no sign that an earlier meeting might be called in this case. I don't have the funds for a lawyer, nor are there any local entities which might take up the cause.
That's where things are at. They don't look good right now. But, giving up is not something that we can afford to do anymore, expecially in places like St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So, for anyone who wishes to read on, I have included below an open letter sent to the Prime Minister of SVG, and our Senior Minister.
I'd also like to thank everyone who sent messages of support, suggestions and comments. It makes a difference to know that people do care out there.
Again, many thanks, and I'll be sure to let you know the final outcome. Cheers,
Prime Minister A. Eustace
Senior Minister Sir J. Mitchell
Re: Marine Conservation in SVG
It is indeed a sad time for those of us who have fought for Marine Conservation in SVG. Within a short period of time, a dredger will commence work within the Palm / Union Island Fisheries Conservation area in the Southern Grenadines, resulting in both direct and indirect destruction of marine life (including mangrove, seagrass, important coral species, and valuable young fish populations).
It is a sad time, because this act is about to set a very dangerous precedent. In this case, not only was there adequate information indicating the importance of the site regarding fisheries and marine protection, but it was believed that the law was on the side of protection through the Fisheries Act of 1986. However, somehow this law has been overlooked, the Environmental Impact Assessment misinterpreted, and all supporting information which followed ignored. The process towards the approval of this project has been clouded in mystery, and it now seems that you, Prime Minister, are the only person which may be able to make a difference regarding this matter.
You must understand that the days of your youth, when you thought that you could sacrifice a square yard of the Ocean for the "greater good" are long gone. We, who are now counted as young people of this country, cannot afford to sacrifice one square inch. Our environment is our future; the heart of our potential livelihood, both in its supply of our food and our potential for tourism. It is the only heritage we have to pass on to our children. We cannot afford the purposeful removal of natural areas without condemning the children of this country to a life of bitterness and servitude to foreign influences.
I urge you to stop the dredging of this area, or at least delay the dredging until the matter may be reviewed through consultation with all agencies involved, as it should have been from the beginning.
I must also make it clear that if the dredging does go ahead as scheduled, this further rape of our natural environment, and the resulting death occurring in an important marine area, must be the last. Further desecration and mismanagement of our heritage cannot continue.
Sir Mitchell, I once expressed my commitment to the protection of the Tobago Cays. I now extend that commitment to the protection of the marine environment of SVG as a whole. We have no time to waste. Time is running out and we are far behind where we should be in this process. As part of my commitment to the marine environment of SVG, I would like to bring your attention to the following:
1. It is my intention, if the dredging of the Clifton Coast Guard site is allowed to continue, to lobby for the placement of a permanent plaque which acknowledges the cost of the Coast Guard project, including the loss of precious mangrove, seagrass, coral and fish.
2. As long as I am Manager of the Tobago Cays Marine Park, I will continue to emphasize the local interests of the people of the Southern Grenadines...I will continue to promote youth education and involvement, and will continue to fight for the creation of a solid operational foundation upon which to build, a foundation which after all these years is still not complete.
3. The pending destruction of a valuable marine conservation area, as well as my experience regarding the developmental process of the Tobago Cays Marine Park have clearly shown that government entities are not capable of truly protecting our environmental heritage on their own. Therefore, it is my intention to go to the people of SVG, and ask that we form the SVG Marine Trust...an organization whose representatives will be chosen by the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Trust will become the body entrusted with our marine heritage, its use and its protection. The formation of this body is the final element missing from the movement of conservation in SVG, and I'm sure that I can count on the support of both of you towards the creation of the Trust.
I thank you very much for your time regarding this matter, and trust that you will seriously consider delaying the dredging at Clifton point, for all of our sakes.
Citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
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