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UNESCO World Heritage Centre queries impact of cruise ship port construction on World Heritage Site 

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2021. 2:31 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Mechtild Rössler, Director of the Culture Section of the World Heritage Center of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has written Belize’s permanent delegate Ambassador Bassam Said Freiha concerning reports about the proposed cruise ship ports, Port Magical within the Sibun reserve and Waterloo’s Port of Belize Cruise Expansion project. 

The latter, Rössler wrote on February 23, is believed to include the dredging and dumping of five million cubic meters of material within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project, in his view, “does not seem to assess the possible impacts of the development on the OUV [Outstanding Universal Value] of the property.”  

Rössler requests of the Ambassador, though Belizean authorities, general comments about the matter and what the EIA says about potential impact of the Waterloo project on the OUV of the site. The letter is copied to CEO in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, Dian Castillo Maheia; the UNESCO National Commission of Belize; Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade as focal point for world heritage and her assistant, Vivian Ramnarace, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

Whether this puts Belize at risk of losing World Heritage Status for the Reef again after it was restored in 2018 is not known. However, environmental groups are calling on government to reject Port of Magical Belize and Port of Belize Cruise Expansion stating that Belize City already has one cruise port under construction – namely Stake Bank – and cannot sustain the combined environmental impact. 


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