The Stann Creek Fishermen Association (SCFA) this week sounded the alarm that a company is dredging inside the South Water Caye Marine Reserve – even as fishermen from the community have been locked out for years from fishing in the protected area, after having been told that they could not continue their usual fishing activities inside the reserve.
The association said that they are exhorting the Minister responsible for fisheries to call an emergency meeting on this.
Earlier this week, Amandala consulted authorities at the Department of the Environment (DOE) on the reported dredging inside the protected area, and we were told that the DOE knew nothing of it.
We tried contacting the CEO responsible for fisheries, as well as authorities at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, but no one was available to speak with us.
Amandala has asked whether the association could provide us with the GPS coordinates of the dredging operation, so that we could verify whether it is, in fact, being done inside the protected area. Still, the fishermen insist that the area where the dredge, reportedly being operated on behalf of Eagle Land Development, has been seen is within the zone where they have been barred from fishing.
We are awaiting further information on this story, and hope to have an official response in the days ahead.