Friday, November 25, 2011

Seismic trails used for poaching


Oil exploration in the Sarstoon Temash National Park (STNP) is helping poachers extract natural resources, a SATIIM/Belize Defence Force (BDF) patrol has discovered.

Since the seismic trails have been opened up, remnants (trunks and pieces of timber) of illegal logging and hunting activities were observed, and the poachers have cut smaller trails from the seismic lines to areas further into the park.

SATIIM rangers and BDF personnel departed Punta Gorda on November 15, 2011, for a 4 day monitoring mission of the STNP. On this trip they encountered US Capital Energy operations in full rig: seismic lines cut, workers drilling, boats travelling up and down the river transporting workers, etc. The seismic lines, which originate from the banks of the Sarstoon River, cut right across the park. One of the first lines cut on the Temash River has been flagged with tapes and the mangroves have been cut clean about 10 feet from the river’s edge. Other seismic lines were flagged and cut straight to the river’s edge leaving no buffer.

Gangs of illegal loggers are informed of SATIIM patrols via radio and are then able to use seismic lines to reach the river and escape to Guatemala by boat without being apprehended. SATIIM has called on the Belizean government to make US Capital Energy cover the cost for SATIIM to monitor and patrol the seismic lines which cut across the park, coming from the international border and providing open access to poachers and illegal hunters and loggers. This will help to ensure that these seismic lines will in fact not become highways for the Guatemalans to come and extract our precious resources inside the park. 

Due to the clear evidence of poaching, SATIIM is requesting that seismic testing activities are suspended until it is agreed how the impacts would be mitigated. SATIIM also suggests that an environmental assessment of seismic testing in the STNP should be conducted to identify potential impacts and recommend mitigation measures prior to the continuation of seismic testing.


Illegal logging discovered during the SATIIM/BDF patrol of the park

Seismic trail making an escape route in the park

US Capital Energy drilling a seismic line in the park
Seismic trails cut to the river's edge allow easy escape
routes for Guatemalan poachers


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