THE LATEST NEWS ON BLACKADORE CAYE
By now, the majority of the saltwater angling community is well aware of Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s plans to build an eco-resort on the Belizean island of Blackadore Caye.
Our friends at the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust recently ran a blog post that cleanly explained the situation and the conservation concerns that come hand-in-hand with the project.
The latest statement from Defend Blackadore Caye, a group keeping tabs on the resort’s progress, included this link to a video where DiCaprio reiterates his desire for “the world to hear the voices of indigenous peoples.” The group argues a development such as this flies directly in the face of such sentiment.
From Defend Blackadore Caye: “While we are not opposed to the development on the island, we are extremely opposed to the proposal of over-the-water cabanas in our newly formed marine reserve (an extension of Hol Chan) specifically designated to protect the nursing grounds of fly-fishing species and fly-fishing areas. Thefact that they call this a ‘paper park’ and therefore discount it, removes any doubt that there is absolutely no ‘eco’ about this development in any sense of the word. In fact, if this were truly an ‘eco’ facility, they would emphasize that this is a protected area. Instead, they try to discount it. Given DiCaprio’s recent public statements about protecting local cultures, etc, this provides a very easy opening to slam the operation an disingenuous.
We are also opposed to their request to not have to abide by the Queen’s Land/Public Access Law which allows public access – namely it allows us to fish these important flats around Blackadore which our San Pedrano fishing guides have been doing since the mid 1970s. In the 2000 State of the Coast, Belizean law regarding Queen’s Land and public access is clarified: “Reservations not exceeding 66 feet in width measured from the high water mark along all water frontages shall be reserved for the Government for public purposes.” Even in cases where the geography of the property would make a 66-foot reserve impossible, property owners are required to practically apply the law. The developers have requested an exception to the law rather than make an attempt to practically apply the law. They imply in the EIA that restricting access completely is necessary given that “security issues are highly important for the demographic visiting the island.” They now have a security guard on the island – turning people away at gun point. Since they do own the island itself, I would guess they do have the right to keep people off the actual island (not the flats surrounding it). However, whether it is legal or not – it is VERY bad form and an aggressive way to begin.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) makes a lot of serious claims about the ecology of the island and about the state of its surrounding waters. They use the “TOA Ecological Report” to argue for the “restorative” nature of their project, and claim the report can be found at the end of the EIA in “Annex 7,” but Annex 7 is a blank page. The report is missing. Defend Blackadore Caye tweeted the main designer (Jason F. McLennan) to ask him for the report and received a “block” in response. In order to debunk most of their scientific claims (one of the most ridiculous being that the steel cables which will support their overwater structures will resemble mangrove roots and thus bring fish to the area), we need the report.
Allowing any developer to take public water and use it to build for-profit private cabanas – especially in a marine reserve – is an extremely dangerous precedent to set. If this project is allowed to continue as is, it will be the tip of the iceberg.If they were to remove their portion of the project that includes over the water cabanas and continue to allow access to the flats – i.e. abide by the Laws of Belize, we do not have any negative issues with the rest of the proposal.”
If you have not aleady, sign onto the Change.org petition against the resort development on Blackadore Caye.