While there has been much talk about Harvest Caye, the $200 million investment in Stake Bank east of Belize City has been meandering along. Should it come to fruition, will that change the ballgame for cruise interests in Belize City who are worried about losing their customers to the South? PLUS News asked Tom Greenwood to respond to the question of whether a successful Stake Bank project would alleviate his concerns and this is that reply.
Tom Greenwood – President , FECTAB:
I find that description very apt, very good. I called it light speed. The moment you’re going to throw a press conference and come up with something that is so incredibly one-sided, and there are two stories, then something somewhere is very wrong. I’m glad you mentioned the Stake Bank project. One is 50 million US [dollars] in the South, upsetting a whole load of people and a whole scenario, the other one is a 200 million US [dollar] project, and it’s got its little whip-lashes here and there, there sorting that out. One, the Stake Bank thing: I went to the last environmental meeting that they had, and there were some genuine questions being thrown by people. I gather, after asked people at that meeting what was the environmental scenario, they’re going through the whole shebang, all the nine yards.
According to David Almendarez, there are a few key differences, particularly environmental impact.
David Almendarez – Fantasea Belize:
Stake Bank, as with any ecosystem, any time you’re dealing with an island, it has to go through the specific Environmental Impact Assessment Act. My thing is with Stake Bake, from what I have heard and the rumours, the want to expand it another 20 acres or claim that land. I know that land is sensitive to manatees, very sensitive to a lot of wild life. So I say when it comes to any island, not only Stake Bank, not only to Harvest Caye, we have to be very sensitive, we have to do everything in an ecologically friendly way, and we have to balance it. Is this something that’s going to benefit man, and harm the environment? Because we’re good at looking at man, you know, and see what man needs, but then there is the environment. With any [project of this] magnitude, of this size, it requires Environmental Assessment, it requires honest people doing the ground work, and making sure it is going to be done in an environmentally [friendly way.] First of all, I think the first thing we should be concerned with is environment. All of us is trying to grab an island and do this, and we’re wrecking havoc on our environment.
Yohnny Rosado made it clear that if they lose customers here, it is just transferring the problem and magnifying it.
Yohnny Rosado – Cavetubing.com:
If we were to believe there would be new ships, like how the Government has announced, going there, then I myself would ask them, let the ships go there because the ships create employment and bring cash. But we’re running the risk that is only a promise. Eventually they will take ships from here and take it to the South. So you’re taking away the food from the child and giving to the older son, taking from the older son and giving it to the child, because the ships from here they will eventually move to Harvest Caye. That’s my problem being here, and that’s one of the reasons I beg and ask the Government to make sure when it signs a contract with them, only new ships shall go there, and the ships that come to Belize [City be left] here. The masses of people want the cruise ships because they need jobs just like us. So, by them taking the ships from here and going there, then we’ll have the same problem that the South has.
Both projects are undergoing environmental impact assessments, but Harvest Caye will involve amending a previous EIA for a different project, a process that Greenwood today decried as illegal.