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PACT, SEA & Getch – Saving South Silk Caye

PACT, SEA & Getch – Saving South Silk Caye
June 09
16:59 2019

On Tuesday, June 4th. Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) Executive Director Nayari Diaz Perez and GETCH Foundation Executive Director Jesse Robinson signed an agreement which will see both organizations, aided by the reserve manager Southern Environmental Association (SEA), collaborating on a project to save South Silk Caye off the coast of Placencia.

One of three small cayes in the Gladden Spit/Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, South Silk Caye has lost much of its land mass and pristine beach as a result of wave action leading to erosion. And something has to be done now, because losing South Silk Caye is not an option, says Arreini Palacio-Morgan, Executive Director of SEA, which co-manages the reserve with the Belize Fisheries Department.

“Over 10,000 visitors come to South Silk Caye every year. It’s significant as an income earner for people in Placencia, in Seine Bight, in Independence. To save the Silk Cayes is absolutely important to us…We have the spawning aggregation site which is fished by a number of persons from Placencia and Seine Bight. We have several traditional fishers from within this area that utilize this area very frequently,” Palacio-Morgan told this newspaper on Tuesday.

South Silk Caye is critical to both the fishing industry and to tourism, and so PACT has been helping SEA in its struggle to save the island. According to Nayari Diaz Perez, “PACT has been supporting restoration work and erosion mitigation work with SEA over the last few years, and we have been building a rock wall around the island to stop further erosion from happening. We have noticed some improvement in that regard.”

But some improvement is not enough improvement, and that’s where the GETCH Foundation comes in. Funded solely by one family with a passion for Belize and interests in Placencia, GETCH is an organization which targets ocean conservation projects. According to Jesse Robinson, Executive Director, they noticed the work being done by SEA and PACT, work which impacts everything the foundation loves about Belize, and so they decided to help.

“We are now partnering with an international foundation, the Getch Foundation, and we are looking to invest close to a million Belize dollars in the next two years, $905,000 to be exact, in restoration and erosion control around the island,” Diaz-Perez explained as she and Robinson signed the cooperation agreement.

Robinson told the Reporter that the foundation envisions long term support of ocean conservation projects in Belize. There is a two year commitment to bring in a million dollars a year for the next two years. They are looking to fund not one project, but multiple projects. And the assistance could not have come at a better time for South Silk Caye, and for SEA.

“If we lose South Silk Caye, we would absolutely lose a brilliant destination. It has some of the most beautiful dive sites and snorkel sites within the southern area in close proximity to South Silk Caye. It is an income earner for several people within the southern area. If we lose it, it will be a livelihood lost for our stakeholders,” SEA’s Arreini Palacio-Morgan stated.

The work starts next month with an erosion study and suggestions for mitigation. Following that is working the process to get an EIA, and then the work of land reclamation can get underway.

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