Friday, March 20, 2009

Bone Fish War

More people are speaking out against South Beach development project as word gets out about all the negative effects it will have on the environment, in particular the mangrove habitats and Hol Chan Marine Reserve at the coral reef. Above is a short film by Wil Flack and Abner Marin. Mr. Flack produced this video which creates awareness to the protection of our mangrove flats and highlights the threat to the environment that the South Beach Development project poses to one of his favorite activities while he vacations in San Pedro, Belize.

Letter to Editor
Dear Friends,
By way of introduction, my name is Dr. Herbert C. Smith. I am a professor at McDaniels College, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A. Every January since 1999, I have taught a two week study tour entitled, “Fishing and Diving Belize.” Together with my wife, I bring 28 students to San Pedro for snorkeling, diving and fishing excursions. McDaniel College students consider this to be the most popular January Term course in terms of education and sheer enjoyment. The President of our College, Dr. Joan Coley, has told me that “Fishing and Diving Belize” serves as a model for all other international courses. And following 9/11, my course was the only international trip the college permitted in January 2002.
My students love and appreciate San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. We have tried to give back to Belize in our own small way. We have a beach clean-up at Robles Point; we bring down school supplies each year for San Pedro High School and play softball (we win), soccer (we lose) and basketball (we usually lose) with high school teams. The McDaniel College relationship with San Pedro is deep and I treasure my Belizean friends and the many beautiful memories we have made over the years.
However, this wonderful relationship is now in abject peril. I have read of the South Beach Belize development project, and it’s hard to believe that the national and local governments are even considering approving it. The project boasts of Las Vegas style casinos and Miami style Hotels built on a huge plot directly adjacent to the Hol Chan Rreserve. It sounds as though the developer wishes to bring Cancun hundreds of miles south of Belize. In my opinion, Cancun should stay exactly where it’s at. Tourists who want that type of experience will go there. But foreign visitors who want the unspoiled and protected Belizean environment will have second thoughts if the South Beach Project is approved.
My point is the South Beach violates everything Belize stands for. The Project will destroy acres of mangrove wetlands that serve as the nursery of ocean. The project will project a high-rise commercial skyline as snorkelers and divers surface at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. The South Beach Project will betray environmental protection and the preservation of Belize’s natural wonders. And this project, if approved, will mean regrettably, I will never bring my McDaniel College students back to San Pedro.
Thank You for your consideration, Herbert C. Smith, Ph.D
Professor of Political Science and International Studies

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