The boat moves through the deceptive calm of the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean: two steps away, on the sandy coast of the Honduran coast, the houses are devastated, eaten by the ocean, the level of which is inexorably rising under the influence of climate change. . . .
The waves crash relentlessly on half a dozen fishing villages in the Gulf of Fonseca, shared by Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
“The sea is advancing,” lamented Telma Yadira Flores, 40, whose home in Cedeño, about 100km south of Honduras’ capital Tegucigalpa, though solid, sank last year.
From now on, she lives with her son and daughter-in-law in a plank shack on the sand: “if the sea comes again, we will have to leave,” she fears.
Pacific Coast of Honduras (AFP – Gustavo IZUS)
The locality of Cedeno, which is home to about 7,000 people, “could disappear completely within a century,” warns a report from the association of the Committee for the Protection and Development of the Flora and Fauna of the Gulf of Fonseca (Coddeffagolf).
However, renowned for its heavenly scenery, the bay is considered by environmentalists to be the “epicenter” of the effects of climate change in Honduras.
– “biblical” outcomes –
Two weeks ago, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that rising sea levels threaten humanity with an exodus of “biblical proportions” while “whole countries could disappear forever.”
A man walks in a mangrove affected by rising sea levels in Cedeno, on the South Pacific coast, February 20, 2023, Honduras (AFP – Orlando SIERRA)
Experts and ministers from around the world meet Thursday and Friday in Panama for the 8th annual Our Ocean Conference, which aims to lay the groundwork for the Blue Economy (the ocean’s equivalent of a green economy). use and protection of the seas and oceans.
But already in the Gulf of Fonseca, surf waves indiscriminately destroyed modest houses and rich villas, part of the natural barrier of coconut palms, demolished dams, a marine biology laboratory, shops …
“This was the home of Elvin Santos,” said Luis Fernando Ortiz, 39, former Vice President of Honduras (2006-2008) boat pilot, pointing to the ruins.
– desolation –
Everywhere in Cedeno, desolation is visible: the school, which had 400 children, had to be abandoned, as well as the police station and the central square.
A man in front of a house destroyed by rising seas on Cedeno Beach, on the South Pacific coast, February 19, 2023 in Honduras (AFP – Orlando SIERRA)
According to the Coddeffagolf report, the earth receded 105 meters in 17 years. “The sea ate up six blocks,” or about 600 meters, even claims Sergio Espinal, a 75-year-old fisherman who lists: the football field, restaurants, hotels … everything was overwhelmed.
The mangroves have also been devastated, leading to the disappearance of the clams and crustaceans that harbor them, which upset the people of Sedeno.
The fish are getting scarcer, and even the seabirds are starving, and the fishermen have to go further and further out to sea to cast their lines and nets.
“There used to be herds of dolphins, sharks, we caught swordfish (…) now all this is lost,” Luis Fernando Ortiz laments.
Sea level rise is accelerating (AFP – Simon MALFATTO)
“The ocean is one of the most valuable resources of mankind: it is home to 80% of life on the planet, it provides food for more than three billion people,” emphasize the organizers of the Our Ocean conference.
However, this “vital capital is at risk due to global warming” and “the time has come for all nations to work together” to protect it, they warn.