Environmental issues

While the terrestrial and marine environments are the main attractions that drives the tourism sector on Roatán – a sector which is a very important source of income for the islanders – unchecked tourism development and a growing population are simultaneously having a significant negative impact on those natural environments.

Deforestation, run-off and poorly managed waste treatment continue to have a negative impact on the environment on and around Roatán. A new water treatment plant and a waste management and recycling plant adjacent to the international airport has improved conditions somewhat, but the issues are far from resolved.

During the first half of the 00s, Coxen Hole major infrastructure improvements were carried out in Coxen Hole to improve the infrastructure for waste water management and reduce pollution of the marine environments around Roatán.

A major environmental project has also been completed in West End Village, which is major hub for scuba diving and associated tourism on the island. Among other things, West End Village is now served by new sewer lines, a pumping station and a drainage system. Earlier, out-houses placed over the water at the ends of short boardwalks along the beach was a common sight in West End Village, and this system still prevails in some of the smaller communities.

One of the driving forces behind improved environmental consciousness on the island is non-profit organisation Roatán Marine Park, led by a group of professional divers, marine biologists and oceanographers. Among other things, they have organized coastal clean-up projects in collaboration with local schools, residents and foreign communities. Also, many of the dive shops on Roatán carry out underwater clean-ups during their regular dives.

In 2019, the local government passed a law restricting the use and sale of plastic bags, bottles and containers, and of styrofoam products.