There is no question that the tourism development of Algodoeiro on the west coast of Sal has had a serious impact on loggerhead turtles but in the last couple of years TRG has implemented some mitigation measures such as installing red filters in the beach bar and, in 2012, made a small donation to our general fund. However, naturally, as a for-profit enterprise, TRG's objectives are primarily financial gain.
Additionally, Mr Fidalgo as the previous the President of Cabo Verde Investimentos, ("the government investment promotion agency and export, whose purpose is the promotion of conditions conducive to the realization of projects of national and foreign investment, the promotion of the Cape Verde Islands as a tourist destination and the promotion of exports of goods and services of Cape Verdean origin.") is most concerned about economic development and not preservation of nature. Both and he & TRG strongly believe that it is absolutely necessary for the development of Sal as a tourist destination to have an enclosed swimming area on the west coast.
It saddened us to hear Sr Fidalgo say he believes that Cabo Verde is not unique. He believes that sunshine and beaches are available anywhere and he looks to the Canary Islands as a development model, stating "if only we could develop in this way and receive 2 million visitors a year" - failing to also recognise the negative aspects of this style of development (high rise and high density). It's not hard to find information about the mistakes that were made there.
|Publicity photo on The Resort Group's website (Copyright The Resort Group)|
|How Algodoeiro would actually look if the breakwater went ahead|
This the kind of misleading statement that may end up deciding the fate of Algodoeiro. The reality is that the consultants who made the environmental impact assessment on behalf of TRG made several serious errors regarding turtles nesting here. They made these errors because they did not even do the most basic research or contact us directly for scientific data. The errors include:
- that this beach is insignificant for turtle nesting
- that turtles will not exit a beach when there are rocks on the shoreline at low tide
- misinterpreting a map showing monitoring points as a map showing nesting areas
(More information about these technical errors can be read here.)
It is worrying that if these errors have been made, other serious errors might also have been made in TRG's impact assessment. TRG do no believe that there will be any impact on the waves used for surfing and other water sports at Ponta Preta or that there will be any significant loss of sand on the beach surrounding the breakwater.
On the subject of the petition to stop the breakwater from being built, Mr Fidalgo was extremely dismissive stating that it meant nothing and that he could find 10,000 people to sign a petition to say that they wanted they breakwater! In addition, he considers that the opinion of almost 5,000 people was irrelevant and should be ignored by the government. Again we disagree. The purpose of a public consultation period is so that the voice of the people can be heard and it is an obligation of the decision makers to listen. Sadly Mr Fidalgo would not accept a copy of the petition from us.
|Jacquie Cozens (SOS Tartarugas) & Victor Fidalgo (TRG) agreeing to disagree!|
It's a sad situation when 4,800 people who are fighting to save Cabo Verde's natural heritage are painted as working against the country & its residents.
Although we agree that the needs of the people are paramount and that anything that can be done to alleviate poverty and improve the standard of living in Cabo Verde should be done, we don't agree that it should cause the loss of some of the country's prime assets - unspoilt nature and beautiful beaches. We don't agree with Mr Fidalgo's statement that this breakwater will increase the prosperity of the people of Sal - it doesn't create more jobs and we are not sure that it will attract more people. "Come to Cape Verde - you can swim in the seas on an artificially created beach, surrounded by concrete walls" doesn't sound like a great advertisement to us!
Nevertheless, in conclusion, if the breakwater does go ahead, Mr Fidalgo told us that they understand there will be some disruption and they will do their best to mitigate some of the negative impacts that might be caused.