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Sep 29, 2014

Ocean Heroes Awards 2014

OCEANA’s Ocean Hero Awards were presented to two exceptional persons over the weekend. One of the awardees has spent years on the protection of the endangered manatee population and the other has equally invested time and energy on the effects of climate change on coral reefs.  Both Jamal Galvez and Lisa Carne have been championing the preservation of our marine life. Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

OCEANA honored two Belizeans with the organization’s Ocean Hero Awards this weekend at an award ceremony held on Saturday at the Matalon in Belize City. The hope of OCEANA is that the event would spark a sense of responsibility among Belizeans to conserve and protect Belize’s precious sea and marine life from degradation.

 

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

Janelle Chanona

“Being an ocean hero can mean a lot of things, but it can mostly mean that you are ready to take action to help protect our marine environment for people and creatures of today and future generations. My team and I are pleased that you have joined us here tonight to celebrate two individuals who exemplify heroic spirits. We were pleased and inspired by our awardees before tonight, but we are very proud to publicly champion them.”

 

It is the fifth annual award ceremony since the inception of OCEANA in Belize in November of 2009. And honored at the event were two persons who have spent years in conservation and advocacy.  Twenty-seven year old Jamal Galvez was honored for his work with the endangered manatee population in Belize.

 

Jamal Galvez

Jamal Galvez, Ocean Hero Awardee

“I’ve been recognized internationally, but for me this one is the biggest. I don’t care who in other parts of the world notices me or recognizes me or notices what we have been doing in Belize, but my people here in Belize is what counts to me. It’s a group effort and like I asked Janelle if they can perhaps change the award from Ocean Hero to Ocean Heroes because it would be selfish of me to stand up here proud and accept this award as if it is something that I did by myself. I mean everybody needs to be recognized including the person that doesn’t throw their garbage in the water because something as simple as a plastic bag can be harmful to a manatee. But I do appreciate it. I accept this award on behalf of so many people.”

 

Also recognized was biologist, Lisa Carne, whose work focuses on the effect of climate change on the coral reef.

 

Lisa Carne

Lisa Carne, Ocean Hero Awardee

“It’s a blessing to be recognized. I’ve been in Belize for twenty years. I am a naturalized Belizean originally from California studying marine biology. The coral bleaching, the work that I am doing is really a reflection of how climate change is affecting coral reefs. Most coral reef biologists agree that climate change is the most serious threat to corals itself because of the rising sea temperatures. It causes bleaching which is associated with diseases which cause mass mortality. And the Caribbean is most affected than the Pacific and we have less species of corals in the Caribbean than the Pacific.”

 

According to Vice President of OCEANA Belize, despite the work of the awardees and the organizations with whom they work, the country is still faced with many challenges when it comes to protecting its waters.

 

Janelle Chanona

“Our precious marine environment is still at risk from off shore oil concessions. Our charismatic species and juvenile fish are still at risk from destructive gear and from disregard. Sensitive habitats among our coasts and on our islands are still at risk from massive development projects. And on top of it all, the marine environment we depend on for our food, our jobs, our very cultural identity, is at risk from the global crisis of this generation—climate change. Yes our challenges are many, but our collective passion is deep. OCEANA is working fervently to help consumers become informed citizens so that you can help determine the quality of your future, your family’s future and the future of our country.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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