Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is spreading the word about a potential development project in Belize that would be build on Turneffe Atoll’s largest backreef flat. Turneffe is world renowned for its flats fishing, particularly for those targeting permit. The Deadman Caye Group Resort is seeking to build over-water structures off several of the flat’s small islands. According to BTT, this project is one of several proposed in the region.
BTT, along with the local and international flats fishing community, has called on the Government of Belize to reject the proposed development. In a letter to Belize Prime Minister Juan Antonio Briceno, BTT highlights:
“In addition to its environmental importance, the Turneffe Atoll flats fishery is a significant economic driver for the country, contributing more than BZ $112 million to the Belizean economy annually and supporting 2,100 individual jobs in the country, including Belizean guides…We strongly oppose this project due to the irreversible environmental damage to water quality and habitats it would cause.”
“In your comments/message please note:
- How special and unique the backreef flats at Turneffe are, that there are few like them in the world, and that people travel from around the world to enjoy them.
- Because of Belize’s Catch and Release law, the Belize flats fishery is totally sustainable—unless the essential habitats are destroyed through inappropriate development.
- The seabed is owned by the people and Government of Belize and should be used for the benefit of all Belizeans and the economy of Belize rather than the advantage of one developer.
- Over-the-water structures are particularly harmful because they disrupt habitat continuity, causing habitat fragmentation and decreasing habitat quality for flats species like bonefish and permit.
- Big Flat, and others like it, provide considerable economic value for Belize including jobs, foreign exchange and a significant portion of the country’s GDP.”
This is a stark reminder of how vulnerable some of the most renowned fisheries are to new development and degradation.
Cover picture: BTT, Tunich-Nah Consultants & Engineering