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Silk Caye: Authorities frown on “unauthorized” efforts to prevent beach erosion

Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2022. 9:29 pm CST.

Photo Credit: Leonardo Melendrez Photography/Caribbean Culture and Lifestyle

By Aaron Humes: They appear to have had the best of intentions, but the work done on South Silk Caye over the weekend is against the law, according to the Fisheries Department.

In a statement, the Department said the land reclamation done on the island, located within the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve and co-managed by the Southern Environmental Association (SEA), needed its permission and that of the Department of the Environment (DOE), via a license in accordance with Subsections 15 (1) (b), (c), (d) and Section 16 of the Fisheries Resources Act, as well as an environmental impact assessment (EIA) under regulation as a Schedule I project.

The Department says it has been working with its co-managers to address the threats of climate change to this and other islands in the Marine Protected Areas System and that in this particular case, the site being altered is within a high biodiversity Conservation Zone where only non-extractive use is allowed. While it understands and even applauds the action of the nearby Placencia community, it asks for coordination and its role as authority to be respected and reminds that any activity in a Marine Protected Area without such authorization is a criminal offence.

For its part, SEA said in a separate release that its Executive Director, Dr Carlos Itza, publicized the work to be done in the mistaken belief that the participants had gotten their permits and approvals and that it is not SEA’s purview to approve such work being done.

SEA added that it is looking for funds to address the issue, and in conjunction with authorities will organize a public forum in the near future to address stakeholders.

Meanwhile, organizer and tour guide Eworth Garbutt is one of two people that will face charges but insists he has done nothing wrong except trying to save his livelihood. He said in a television interview that while the authorities “study” the issue, two of the three original Silk Cayes are effectively gone and this last one may go too unless something is done right away.

 

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