OCEANA responds to DOE offering Environmental Clearance to Port of Magical Belize

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OCEANA Belize has issued a press release stating that the Government of Belize’s lack of understanding the impact of multiple cruise ports has not been in the best interest of the country. In a letter dated Friday, April 9, 2021 to David Gegg, Proprietor, Portico Enterprise Ltd./Port of Magical Belize, Gegg was informed that the company was awarded environmental clearance for their construction and operation of the Port. This environmental clearance comes from the Department of the Environment and since this letter has become public, GOB has not yet issued an official statement on the clearance. As such, OCEANA urges the public and those in decision making capacities to view multiple investment proposals as a whole as opposed to individual projects. According to their statement, scientists continue to highlight this area as a high retention zone and as such, the proposed scale of dredging for construction of the Port is “significant cause for concern.” Aside from these dredging concerns, there is also the issue of clearing large portions of mangroves, an organism constantly praised for its environmental benefits of stabilizing shorelines and reducing the devastating impact of natural disasters such as hurricanes. They also serve as breeding and nursing grounds for marine finfish and shellfish species of commercial importance. As a result, especially during this time of fighting climate change, clearing mangroves is not optimal. With that then, Oceana repeats its call to the Belizean people to maintain awareness and demand meaningful engagement on development proposals to support informed decision making. “Taking the cautious approach will ensure that we are able to weigh the costs and benefits of our decisions,” says Oceana VP Janelle Chanona. “To do less than safeguard the very ecosystems and biodiversity that cruise visitors want to enjoy would be shortsighted and in the end, economically detrimental to all Belizeans.
The Port of Magical Belize will exist as a cruise ship port and day resort development and will sit just six (6) kilometers or 3.7 miles away from the mouth of the Sibun River located in the Belize District. This development, while it can be seen as a pronounced economic and investment opportunity for the country’s tourism industry, has been a cause for great concern. Since word of this development became public, it has evoked plentiful public discussions and even more distress. These voices of worry have especially been vocalized by persons within the environmental sector, who have a view of conserving and protecting our country’s natural resources.
Responding to Oceana’s concerns was David Gegg, one of the principals of the venture. He explained that his investment would bring large scale employment opportunities for Belizeans. He added that this is something that the environmentalists are not offering the country. He explained that the venture is set to commence sometime in 2023.
Gegg noted that the project is expected to have limited impact on the natural environment where it will be done as dredging will be kept at a minimum. He said that any development for the construction of a small peninsula will ensure that material used to fill the area will be contained to the fill site.
The Port of Magical Belize is a mega cruise ship terminal development some 8 miles south of Belize City. The terminal will feature piers, shops, restaurants, cabanas and a hotel with beach amenities.