International conservation group the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) is calling on the Belize Government to reject a proposal to build a resort near the southern end of the country’s Turneffe Atoll.
In its April newsletter, the organisation said that the over-the-water development would damage ‘Big Flat’ – Turneffe’s largest backreef flat – and impact the country’s economically and culturally important fishery, which generates more than $110m Belize dollars annually.
“The backreef is a critical part of the atoll’s reef structure and supports numerous species, including bonefish, permit and tarpon for which Turneffe Atoll is famous,” said the BTT.
It added: “The Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve is Belize’s largest and most diverse marine reserve, yet threats to it and other protected areas throughout the country persist. These threats include destruction and degradation of critically important habitats by dredging, clear-cutting of mangroves and unwise development.
“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.
“Sadly the proposed development at Turneffe is merely another assault on the flats fishery of Belize and follows similar over-the-water development proposals on the flats at Cayo Rosario and Blackadore Cave.”
The BTT, along with the local and international flats community, is calling on the Government of Belize to reject the proposed development and has written a letter to the Prime Minister, Juan Antonio Briceno, voicing its concerns.