Persons of influence on the Caribbean island of St Vincent have joined the call to ensure no coral reef is removed from Indian bay, part of the island marine park
An application made by Raffique Dunbar to the Physical Planning and Development Board on behalf of La Vue Hotel, for removing reef from Indian Bay on St Vincent’s East Coast is gaining international attention. At the same time, persons on the island with an interest in the tourism sector and the environment are doubling up their efforts to ensure its preservation.
Among those making a strong call to halt the removal of the reef are Lousie Mitchell, Calvert Richards, Vynette Frederick, and Nadia Huggins.
Mitchell, who is a barrister at law and is very passionate about the heritage and environment of St Vincent and the Grenadines, told the island lone TV station, SVG TV, that the idea for the application is to remove coral reef at Indian Bay to replace it with imported sand and build a barrier reef made out of concrete blocks across the beach area.
Mitchell said the reef at Indian Bay had been studied for many years by the Fisheries Division and National Parks Authority.
“The reason for such is because the South Coast of SVG is already a protected conservation area under the SVG fisheries act.”
“I strongly object to the application; the reef is not dead, as the applicant may suggest.”
The SVG Environmental Fund, of which Mitchell is the Executive Director, has set up an online petition which already has garnered over 2500 signatures, according to SVG TV.
On July 5, Calvert Richards, Owner of Dive St Vincent, told this publication that all of the corals’ persons would have seen in photos on social media are alive.
“Over 95 percent of the corals are alive; we cleaned the whole area from Great Head Bay to the Blue Lagoon over a year ago”.
“It is sad what’s taking place; the area where developers want to remove corals from one of our major dive areas.”
Richards told News784 that some of the marine life in the area are unique and can only be found in the protected area.
Nadia Huggins, a resident of Indian Bay, has been voicing her concerns on the issue via social media by posting photos of corals and marine life.
However, she told Global Voices that the monitoring data indicates that the coral reefs in the area are abundant, healthy, and vital to sustainable local fisheries. She is convinced that there is value in preserving life in this zone.
“I’m all for development and seeing my country thrive, but there is a very thin line between progress and preservation,” she told Global Voices.
Huggins, a photographer, told Global Voices that the environmental assessment done by the developers claims that the reef is dead. However, there isn’t a single underwater image documenting this claim.
Vynette Frederick, a local lawyer on the island, said she is interested in seeing the preservation of the reef at Indian Bay.
Fredrick said she took the liberty of making a collage of the photographs taken by Huggins on July 4, 2021, and placed it with her objection letter for the attention of the Planning Development Board.
Adam said he was disappointed with the rumors being peddled.
“Not in a million years would any investor of this project think or plan to remove live coral reef; I invite anyone to come and see, what is close to the shoreline is dead coral. We have hired marine biologists to come and see the area; they took several pictures at different times when the corals were exposed, and they are not live reef”.
“The pictures you see are the not area where we will place an artificial reef; it is far from where we are planning on doing the cleaning.”
“The application is available for the public to view, the proposed plan, the areas to be cleaned, and the additional X-blocks to protect what we are doing. The X- blocks would be placed behind the artificial reef to protect it and also the deterioration of the shoreline”.
An environmental impact assessment study which was done and submitted to the PPDB on behalf of La Vue by Krystle Francis, stated the area of excavation as 350 feet long and extending 100-150 feet seaward. The scope of works is expected to be confined to 17,500 sq ft.
The document also showed that imported sand would be placed on the beachfront, eroded by wave action.
According to the submitted document, the main objective of the works is to increase beach width and promote there-growth of the marine ecosystem.
The South Coast Marine Managed Area, located along the south coast of mainland St. Vincent, was Initially designated in 1987 as a Marine Conservation Area. It became one of ten specially protected marine conservation areas in the multi-island state.
In 2015, the declaration as an MMA or Marine Park made it the second in the country – the other being the Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP) in the Grenadines.
Feature Image – Joshua Gooding