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Campaigners offer a petition against the destruction of mangroves and coral reefs.

Residents of Zakitó and Charo have presented a petition to Charetti America-Francisca, President of the Parliament of Curaçao. The group, known as 'Save Zakitó', hopes to halt construction activities in the area. The petition has been signed by almost 2000 concerned citizens and calls for an immediate halt to the work which, according to activists, is irreparably damaging the mangroves and coral reefs in the area.

According to the group Save Zakitó, damage to the area's fragile ecosystems of mangroves and coral reefs has long been occurring. Through the petition, residents hope to prevent further destruction and draw the attention of authorities to the need for nature protection.

It is not the first time that the residents of Zakitó and Charo have raised the alarm. At the end of April there were also loud protests against the developments in the area. The permit for the project was granted in May 2023, with approval from the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature (GMN), subject to strict compliance with local reef management legislation. Yet residents claim that these rules are systematically broken, with serious consequences for nature.

Zakitó, located west of the capital Willemstad and bordering the Caribbean Sea, is an area with a combination of industrial and recreational functions. It is home to overgrown mangroves, reefs and lagoons. The government of Curaçao has big plans for the area, with the ambition to transform it into a recreational and water-rich landscape that is attractive to both tourists and local residents, without harming nature and historical values.

The government's vision for Zakitó is divided into three sub-areas, each with their unique capabilities and core values. The goal is to utilize these elements, strengthen them and allow them to function in harmony with each other. One of the biggest challenges is the pollution in and around the mangroves and lagoon. New water connections should provide the necessary flow, which benefits flora and fauna.

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Photo: © Pitane Blue - beach in front of the WTC building in Piscadera.

The government's master plan includes not only the improvement of natural biotopes and the increase of biodiversity, but also the development of residential and recreational areas on the water and the creation of employment for the local population. The government sees the development of Zakitó as a means to strengthen the tourism sector and improve the area's infrastructure, as announced by the Ministry of Transport, Transport and Spatial Planning (VVRP).

The plan covers the entire area, from Aqualectra to the WTC building in Piscadera. “The area must remain accessible to walkers and athletes and is therefore being completely renovated,” said a ministry spokesperson. An important part of the plans is the construction of a new marina, which should boost the maritime economy in the area. Royal Holding Company II BV is responsible for the construction of the marina and plans to construct a breakwater and a movable bridge.

Nevertheless, the concerns of the residents of Zakitó and Charo remain great. They fear that construction activities will destroy fragile ecosystems, despite government promises to protect nature. The Save Zakitó petition is an urgent call for the authorities to stop the destructive activities and prioritize the protection of the area's unique natural resources.

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