Start of Cabo Rojo cruise ship port announced; conservationists say it does not have its permits

Conservationists alert the Ministry of Environment that the proposed location for a cruise ship port in Pedernales could be very damaging to the environment. The Abinader administration has announced the government-owned Banco de Reservas will be financing the construction of the cruise ship terminal in Cabo Rojo.

The conservationists warn that in the area there is an extensive coral reef system in good state of conservation that would be directly affected by the cruise ship terminal. They stress that the construction would be in disrespect of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of Global Importance.

Grupo Jaragua says in a post on Instagram that the marine area around the pier features one of the largest coral reef complexes in the entire DR. It explains that coral reefs are under serious threat from global climate change and that is why it is imperative to care for those that remain.

Moreover, the conservationists say that numerous endangered species of corals are found there, as are the critically endangered hawksbill turtle and the endangered green turtle and the threatened West Indian manatee.

“All this makes this place a valuable resource not only for national biodiversity, but also as a natural attraction for the tourism industry. We would be irreparably damaging one of the bases of the unique natural beauty of the tourist destination Pedernales,” stresses Grupo Jaragua.

The conservationist group says they are concerned that the start of construction on the cruise terminal by the Mexican company ITM has been announced in the local and international press even when the due environmental permit mandated by Environment Law 64-00 has not been granted.

The conservationists alert that local experts and national institutions that have studies, scientific publications and mapping of marine habitats in the area have not been consulted or invited to the public hearings held for the permitting of the still unfinished project.

In the letter to the Minister of Environment, the environmentalists request a meeting to discuss the project and assist the Ministry of Environment.

The message is in a letter by Grupo Jaragua, Reef Check and underwater photographer Jose Alejandro Alvarez dated 15 September 2022 sent to the Ministry of Environment now under economist Miguel Ceara Hatton. The conservationists are concerned about the future of a park of the Cabo Rojo reef where the Mexican company ITM Group has plans to build a cruise port that would be in operation by the end of 2023. The cruise port would be financed by the government bank, Banco de Reservas at a cost of around US$98 million.

The letter has been widely disseminated through social networks, accompanied by a video produced by Grupo Jaragua. Reactions have been both in favor and against the environmentalists’ position.

José Horacio Rodríguez, deputy of the National District for Opción Democrática, took the floor during the Chamber of Deputies session of Tuesday, 27 September 2022 to read part of the letter and highlight the serious consequences that the construction of the cruise port in Cabo Rojo could have for the country and its biodiversity.

“It is for these reasons, dear colleagues, that we are requesting that the Environmental Commission of this Chamber of Deputies conduct an investigation into this complaint, because what has been reported in the press, both nationally and internationally, is that the construction of this work has already begun without the environmental impact studies and the environmental authorization that Law 64-00 requires for this work to be carried out,” the deputy said in his turn.

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Diario Libre

29 September 2022