[Coral-List] Placencia, Belize: effect of proposed development on corals in southern Belize

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Tue Apr 18 08:58:40 EDT 2006

Mary Troy of Destinations Belize sent an appeal to the coral list last week to assist her with an EIA reveiw for a proposed development on the Placencia Peninsula in Southern Belize.  The Reef Ball Foundation assisted her and has written a draft report and there is a link to the report which is in PDF format at http://www.reefball.org/album/belize/placenciapeninsula/eiareview/index.html.  We would appreciate any additional reviews or comments on this report before we go final with the document.  Additionally, Rachel Graham, who is researching Goliath grouper, rays and sharks in southern Belize is going to be in the area for the next couple of days and she is going to do some monitoring photos of the coral reefs in the area to strengthen the report.  Therefore, if anyone needs any additional on-site information to make comments we have this opportunity.

We would especially appreciate any comments on nutrient limits to coral reefs.  The report already references Dr. Thomas Goreau's suggested levels as well as references to closed systems but addtional practical limits or legislated limits would be useful too.  Please make sure to convert whatever limits you suggest to PPM to be comparable to the EIA units of measure.  We are most interested in Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphate limts for coral reefs and for Total Nitrogen, Phospahte & Dissolved Oxygen limits for estuary systems health.  

We would also appreciate any comments on the heath of the reef in this area if anyone on the list has done any work there.  

Mary provides a link in her earlier message (below) to the original EIA if you would like to dive deeper into this issue.  The Annex file is the most comprehensive.  You will also find the graphics from our report at the link I posted above.  

Note: This development will have almost 13,000 people at full occupancy.  And it will be located on a barrier island between an estuary and the Caribbean sea were they has not been significant human population before.  All comments are appreciated.

-Todd Barber
Reef Ball Foundation
A 501(c) 3 Public NGO

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mary Toy" <mtoy at destinationsbelize.com>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2006 1:10 PM
Subject: [Coral-List] Placencia,Belize: effect of proposed development on corals in southern Belize

> Dear Coral List Subscribers:
> I hope the following request is appropriate for this list.  If not, I
> apologize in advance.
> The Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize is a narrow, 14 mile peninsula
> bounded on the west by the Placencia Lagoon, and on the east and south by
> the Caribbean.  Population of the Peninsula is about 1,500 people spread
> along its 14-mile length.  The primary industry here is tourism, mostly
> scuba diving, sport fishing, snorkeling and kayaking related tourism.  All
> guides are from the area and most tour operators are also local.  Hotels and
> resorts are generally small, mom and pop operations, with the largest hotel
> having about 50 rooms.  (The second largest hotel probably has 20.)   
> In March 2006, the Belize Department of the Environment printed an
> announcement in the local papers about an Environmental Impact Assessment
> (EIA) for a LARGE resort development at the northern end of the Peninsula
> that will include a 67-acre marina holding up to 400 boats of up to 100 feet
> in length.  Construction of the marina will involve a huge dredging project
> on the Caribbean side of the proposed development area, and will include two
> 50 meter breakwater jetties.  
> We have absolutely no one in the area who has the training to assess the
> very technical components of the EIA regarding the dredging project and its
> potential effects on corals located in the Caribbean off the Peninsula.  The
> developer's consulting engineer (Shabica and Associates) discusses
> mitigating measures such as suction dredging, siltation curtains, etc. 
> However, we do not know whether these measures are likely to be effective,
> and what kind of conditions should be imposed on these measures to make them
> effective.  (For example, are all siltation curtains created equal?  If not,
> which kind of curtains should we try to require them to use and how should
> they be positioned? Will suction dredging work if used only at the mouths of
> the marina, or should suction dredging be required for the entire dredging
> operation?)  
> Also, the fill from the dredging will be deposited on land for later use in
> constructing a golf course.  The amount of fill to be dredged is estimated
> at 1.2 million cubic yards, so it seems to us that a great risk of runoff
> exists if the fill is not contained properly.  
> Potential runoff from the chemicals that may be used on the golf course is
> also a source of concern.  The golf course abut the Placencia Lagoon, which
> empties into the Caribbean, and surface water run-off from the development
> will also be directed into the Lagoon.  
> In addition, the projected population of the resort at completion will be
> almost 13,000 people, which also presents issues of waste water and garbage
> disposal which could also affect the health of our coral reefs. (Not to
> mention the social ones of injecting 13,000 tourists into a community of
> 1,500-2,000). 
> This proposed project has created great concern on the Peninsula, and we're
> doing the best we can, but we know we are missing potentially very
> significant technical issues simply because no one here has the expertise to
> recognize or address them.  
> We have managed to convince the Belize Department of the Environment that a
> formal public hearing on the proposed development is necessary, and the
> hearing date has been set for 3 May 2006.  We want to hold informational
> public meetings prior to the hearing to educate Peninsula residents about
> the project.  (We have also had a tremendous issue with getting information
> about the project - we were only able to get copies of the EIA 6 days before
> the formal comment period was over, and only by physically driving to
> Belmopan, Belize's capital city, and copying CDs of the EIA housed at the
> Department of the Environment.
> Does anyone know anyone who might be willing to take a look at the EIA and
> related Annex of technical documents to  give us a heads up on issues so
> that we can at least raise the issues, even if we can't make technical
> recommendations about them?
> As soon as we received the CDs, we uploaded them to a file sharing site.
> Relevant documents can be found as follows:
> EIA:  http://depositfiles.com/en/files/8044/aramacaoeiafinal.pdf.html
> Annex:  http://depositfiles.com/en/files/8100/aramacaoannexes.pdf.html
> Fact Sheet:
> http://depositfiles.com/en/files/18746/Scarlet_Macaw_Fact_Sheet.doc.html
> Preliminary Comments:  http://www.placencia.com/PlacenciaProgress.htm (these
> were produced very quickly in order to get something on the record)
> Site Plan Poster:
> http://depositfiles.com/en/files/19287/Scarlet_Macaw_Site_Plan_Poster.html
> Again, I apologize if this is an inappropriate posting.  Also, thank you in
> advance to anyone who has any suggestions.
> Mary Toy, Placencia, Belize
> ____________________________________________
> Mary Toy, Destinations Belize
> Specializing in Belize Travel and Tours
> Email:  mtoy at destinationsbelize.com
> Website:  www.destinationsbelize.com
> Belize Phone:  501-523-4018
> Belize Cell:  501-610-4718
> Belize Mailing Address: 
>     General Delivery, Placencia, Belize
> US Fax and Voice Mail:  1-603-452-4797
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