I am writing to you to inform you and the readers of your fine publication of some undeniable facts about the controversial dredging for Leeward Marina, formerly known as Nikki Beach, soon to be known as Blue Haven Marina. The marina is within Princess Alexandra National Park, and as such limitations to this development may exist.
As stated in an October 3 press release by IGY Marinas, the future owners of the marina plan to dredge the Leeward going-through from a minimum depth of currently around 6 feet to a new depth of 12 feet.
Now as we all know, Nikki Beach and the new mega yacht marina initially opened in April 2007 when the dredging of the going-through was just completed (a subsequent inquiry labeled the dredging as “illegal”). At the Nikki Beach opening, renowned mega yacht “Lady M” from Belize docked at both the marina and at Nikki beach. Built by Hakvoort Shipyard in 1994 in the Netherlands, Lady M features a steel hull and 164 ft in length. She has a draft of 10.2 ft. This should be sufficient evidence that in April 2007, the going-through was dredged to at least 12 feet of minimum depth. We come to the same conclusion when reviewing development agreements and press releases by Nikki Beach and Leeward Marina during 2006 and 2007 which we will not publish at this point.
We have sufficient evidence that after the illegal dredging to 12 ft depth in 2007, it took five years for the going-through to fill the ocean bed with sand to significantly reduce the minimum depth to the current levels. In those five years, an additional five to six feet of sand washed up and accumulated in the ocean bed of Leeward going-through.
Now, should the Blue Haven Marina commence operations, we can conclude that they will need to dredge on a continuous basis at least every three years to remove at least 3ft to 4ft of newly deposited sediment.
Proponents of the marina will cite the economic benefits of this high-end operation, such as additional jobs, revenues and prestige. Without any doubt the development would fulfill these expectations.
However, the 100 million dollar question is: Can the Grace Bay reef, already damaged by the "illegal" 2007 dredging, take continuous “maintenance dredging” every other year? It is a 100 million dollar question because IF the reef cannot take the silt and deposits from ongoing dredging, then the reef will die, leaving the world’s best beach subject to massive erosion, which may lead to the collapse of the country’s highest profile developments and one of the main drivers for its tourism and government revenues.
Of course, this question should not diminish the fact that the National Parks Ordinance still applies to the marina development.
There are the facts. Be careful, you are now informed. Make your own decision.