Date: January 16th, 2019
It has been reported that Sandals has withdrawn the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of the Sandals Resort in Buccoo Estate, Tobago.
Several sustainable development groups have claimed that this resort will result in the destruction of Buccoo Reef which was once rated as the “number three spectacular sight to behold in the world” by Jacques Cousteau, French Oceanographer and Explorer.
In addition to the inevitable environmental threats of destruction, can our country in its present state of economic failure (with frightful debt to gdp ratios) afford to build an 8 billion TTD hotel when the economic returns have not been subject to any independent cost benefit analysis? Should any Government be proceeding with billion dollar mega-projects to which the economic returns are unknown? We are already spending 400 Million TTD on the first arm (of a highway from nowhere to nowhere), of a 5 Billion TTD highway. Will we turn to China for another loan further increasing national debt? Bad decisions destroy economies and nations as we have seen in Venezuela.
In 2004, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) took steps to designate Buccoo Reef National Park as an environmentally sensitive area (ESA). Why was this designation never enacted? FFOS respectfully call on the Hon Minister or Planning and the EMA to recommence these proceedings to designate Buccoo Reef as an ESA. The Buccoo Reef is unarguably a unique, complex marine ecosystem, imperative to the coastal protection of southwest Tobago and our fisheries. It ought to receive the highest form of legal protection.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) welcome development for Tobago, but all projects must conform to the environmental laws of our country. Our coral reef, mangroves and fisheries must not be compromised. It’s more than environmental protection, its safe guarding our country for future generations.