Thursday, 26 July 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John's - Anyone who holds the view that Barbuda would no longer exist by the year 2050 does not quite understand the matter of coastal dynamics; and anyone who opts to use such a belief to exploit the environment for financial gain, is even more unwitting.
This is the position of marine biologist John Mussington, as he addressed the issue of sand mining in Barbuda that has once again grabbed public attention.
Mussington said he was dissatisfied with the fact that the matter is still being presented as something new, and that some sections of the media seem to be “legitimizing inaccurate information.”
The marine biologist pointed out that opposition council member Senator Arthur Nibbs’ stance on sand mining is not a longstanding once since he, not so long ago, accused environmentalists of wanting to see the sister isle become something of a “Garden of Eden” while its citizens were out of work and starving.
Mussington questioned whether consideration was given to the fact that sand mining was supposed to have been stopped in Barbuda over several months ago, yet the council can posit that those running the mining operation today have been for that entire period attempting to honor outstanding commitments.
“The council cannot be trusted. They tell lies. The press runs with the stories and don't ask the right questions,” Mussington said.
In 2006 the Environment Division had sent representatives to Barbuda to assess the mining issue and their report on the matter had resulted in a temporary halt to the operations.
But a Cabinet directive some weeks later saw the Environment Division creating what was then called an “exit strategy”. The protocol gave the Barbuda Council permission to allow mining within a 103-acre margin while it transitioned into another means of revenue generation.
“Sand mining never stopped since that couple weeks in 2006 when the environment division interfered before the cabinet directive. The fact of the matter is that this was stopped in 2006 and resumed on the basis of 103 acres so the council could phase itself (into) new economic channels,” he said.
The operations were to be executed under “strict guidelines”, but according to Mussington none of these guidelines were followed - as revealed in an independent investigation he had conducted a year later.
Mussington went public with this information and got a defensive reaction from both the council and the Environment Division.
“We are now in 2012 with the same stories again. The area that was given to them was exhausted within a year. Why the nonsense that is being reported about the economy and mining is still continuing?” he asked.
Sand mining in Barbuda has been ongoing for several decades.
On Tuesday the Barbuda Council discussed the mining operation that Senator Nibbs says has never stopped. He believes that the sand that remains on the sister isle should be reserved for domestic purposes and not mined for export.
Nibbs said in media reports that based on investigations the council’s excuses for the ongoing mining operations are frivolous at the least, and that the council is in fact allowing the sand to be mined as a means of revenue generation.
He said the matter had not been discussed on the floor of the council and the decision to continue the operations seems to have been one taken among a small group of council members.
Further media reports on the matter cite chairman of the council’s finance committee Fabian Jones as labeling Nibbs’ comments as false.
Jones maintains that the operations ongoing are merely to honor outstanding commitments and not necessarily a resumption of mining.
He suggested that some reports indicate that Barbuda would no longer exist by 2050, and therefore the idea of environmental impacts due to sand mining could have little to no bearing on today.
See attached the Sand Mining reports