This just in – was posted to the EPD site via link given above:
I represent The Conservation Agency in strongly opposing the building of a LNG terminal, or any other industrial facility, in the Soko Islands because that would be a tragic waste of a potentially wonderful and lucrative natural resource. The proper development for the Sokos should be as an ecotourist destination resort.
The Sokos are rich in natural history, including both terrestrial and marine life, birds, animals, and flora. The existing old town/prison platform on Tai A Chau would be ideal for hotel development and resort headquarters. The beach front on the south side of Siu A Chau could be redeveloped for recreation. The waters south of Tai A Chau, extending to and including Tau Lo Chau, should become a marine park and sanctuary for snorkeling and diving. Nature trails, with interpretive signage, should extend out on both Tai A Chau and Siu A Chau from the developed sites for birding, animal observation, and plant identification. This sort of development for ecotourism and recreation in nature is very popular and very profitable in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. It is time to do this in the South China Sea.
Not only is ecotoursm lucrative and popular, but it can be wonderful – if properly managed – for wildlife and the natural environment. I have personally been in charge of developing natural history programs, including rare species restorations, nature trails, interpretive signage, and tour guiding, on a number of Caribbean islands, notably Guana and Necker (see http://www.guanascience.com, http://www.guana.com, and http://www.necker.com). A properly developed and managed ecotourist destination resort is much better for wildlife and nature than an “empty” island: That is because the people there have reason to care for the island’s natural resources.
The Conservation Agency (www.theconservationagency.org) and I personally stand ready to advise and assist in the proper development of the Soko Islands.
Sincerely, James Lazell, Ph.D., 2007.1.21.