Concerns over breach in Barbuda Lagoon

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By Elesha George

The Chairman of the Agriculture and Fisheries Committee on the Barbuda Council is concerned that an opening in the lagoon has left its coastal borders exposed.

Hurricane Irma formed a gap in the lagoon where deposits of thick sand created a walk way across a part of the island that housed the once luxurious Light House Bay Resort.

Since the category five hurricane passed through the sister isle, Chairman Kendra Beazer told OBSERVER media that the gap is not closing as quickly as anticipated and has caused sea levels to rise up to the bottom half of the resort.

It has also caused the sea level to rise above the old Codrington wharf and, according to Beazer, “it’s the first time in the history of Barbuda where you have gone into two additional hurricane cycles with the breach within the lagoon”.

“It is something that we are concerned about because it [the sand] has acted as a buffer, a protection area so to speak when sea level rises,” he explained.

The chairman said the sand wall, which once showed signs of closing, is threatened by the climate crisis and the rising sea levels.

“Barbuda’s vulnerability when it comes to climate-induced storms, it is something that we’re very concerned about and something that we have been in constant dialogue with the Division of Environment about how we can help to restore it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the island is still grappling to rebound from losing its main lobster markets due to a reduction in price.

 “We haven’t been exporting lobster as we used to in the past…the Council used to receive 0.75 cents per pound of every lobster exported from Barbuda … now the fishermen are exporting through one particular exporter and that exporter exports from Antigua,” Beazer said. “That exporter comes over to Barbuda on a weekly basis, collects the lobsters, take them back to their storage facility in Antigua, ships them out from Antigua, so that revenue that we used to collect from that activity, we have lost that.”

He explained that from speaking with the fishermen, it seems that exporters are paying less and so the prices that they were getting prior to the hurricane have been reduced.

“They cannot afford to pay the Council the 0.75 cents per pound and still sell their produce at that particular price. It would put them at a loss as opposed to shipping through this one exporter at the moment,” the chairman told our newsroom.

The Barbuda Council, Beazer said, has reached out to two entities to get support and to send a delegation to re-engage the markets in Saint Martin, Guadeloupe and Dominica.

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