Ministers Try to Explain Approved Project in Hol Chan Marine Reserve; ACCSD Issues Statement

I’ve been posting quite a bit about the recently development plan at Cayo Rosario on the leeward side of Ambergris Caye.  There have been quite a few statements in the news this week attempting to give justification and the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development sent out a press release in response.

The bottom line is THIS IS A MARINE RESERVE.  And that there should be NO over-the-water structures in Hol Chan Marine Reserve and NO dredging in the protected shoals.

This island – currently less than 5 acres.  In the middle of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  It looks like this…

Gorgeous photo taken by Columbia Sportswear and highlighted on their website about Belize.  (Columbia Sportswear is a company with over 5000 employees and $2.1US billion in revenue)

And the APPROVED PLAN is to do this – the plan on the right.  “Scaled Down” IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR MARINE RESERVE!

Press Release:  More Unite to Say NO to Over-the-Water Structures and Dredging in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Last week, the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) launched a social media campaign in opposition to over-the-water structures and dredging on Cayo Rosario within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  A new logo and website,, were shared by individuals, groups and businesses in Belize and around the world to support the Tour Guides, Tour Operators, Fishing Guides and residents of Ambergris Caye who unanimously say NO to destructive development in the reserve.

Cayo Rosario is a five-acre island on the leeward side of Ambergris Caye directly west of the Secret Beach area. The caye is protected as part of the Ho| Chan Marine Reserve, the most visited site in the country. A new development has recently been approved by the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) to build 54 over-the-water cabafias on two piers, 50 on-|and bungalows as well as aspa and restaurant on the small mangrove caye.

Over social media and through the new website, overwhelming opposition to the development was shared with hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

In a significant display of unity, on July 17″“, a letter signed by the Belize Tourism Association Industry (BTIA), World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Oceana Belize, Belize Institute of Environmental Law & Policy (BELPO) and the Belize Audubon Society was sent to San Pedro’s Mayor Daniel Guerrero asking that he take official stand against this project. (See below for this letter)

The Department of the Environment has spoken twice this week to the national news media about the Cayo Rosario project. On July 16th, Martin Alegria, the Chief Environmental Officer suggested to LoveFM that the dredging for the Cayo Rosario project will not pose a serious threat. He stated that the dredging will be ”minimal and hopefully done manually”.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project calls for 55,000 cubic meters of dredging (over 80,000 metric tons of sand) – to fill in and around the island. This very seabed that will be dredged is an integral part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, nationally protected as the invaluable nursery for the Belize Barrier Reef and as the feeding grounds for our protected bonefish, tarpon and permit.

The stance remains firm – build on your island but do not build over the Ho| Chan Marine Reserve or dredge within the protected area.

Many expert viewpoints were formally expressed to the members of the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) during their approval process for this development. They were unanimous against the Cayo Rosario project. An example is this statement from Dr. Aaron Adams of the Bonefish&Tarpon Trust. ”The development plan is ill-conceived, not appropriate for these habitats, and will damage the economically and culturally important flats fishery.”

On July 17, 2018, on Channel 5 News, the Minister of the Environment, Omar Figueroa suggested that this project is not massive and that significant concessions were made by the developer during the approval process.

The number of over-the-water bungalows was reduced from 90 presented during the public EIA meeting to the final 54.

The ACCSD agrees that ”massive” is a relative term. But the approved project at Cayo Rosario will be one of the largest hotel developments notjust on Ambergris Caye but in the entire country. The large over-the-water footprint, the huge amount of dredging and the underwater pipelines to and from Ambergris Caye are unprecedented in Belize waters and a complete contradiction to the purpose of a marine reserve.

The goal has not changed – to stand together to say NO to over-the-water and dredging development in Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

The ACCSD’s mission is to support and promote sustainable development on Ambergris Caye and its surrounding areas through education, awareness and citizen involvement.

Please see our website for information or to ask any questions.

Letter to Mayor Daniel Guerrero

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