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Apr 1, 2015

Manatee Fatalities Prompt Immediate Action from Conservationists

Belize’s population of manatees is one of the healthiest in the region, but they are still endangered species. Countless times we have reported on the deaths of manatees to boating accidents. Just last year, there were over thirty manatee deaths recorded and for this year so far, we are already at half of that number. The increasing number of preventable deaths of manatee population has highlighted the need for measures to be implemented sooner rather than later. Today, Jamal Galvez, the program coordinator for the manatee conservation program met with three key stakeholders, the Belize Tourism Board, Ports Authority and Forestry.

 

Jamal Galvez

Jamal Galvez, Coordinator, Belize Manatee Conservation Program

“We have never gotten the opportunity to bring all of them together, but the reason we brought them together is because we have had an increase, a drastic increase in manatee deaths. We haven’t gone through a week since the start of the year without a dead manatee. Some weeks we have two. This week already we have two and this week isn’t finished as yet. We are currently at seventeen deaths for the year. Last year it was thirty four so if we continue at this span we will double that by December. Manatees are endangered and the population is at about a thousand estimated so something needs to be done to address it. Most of the situations are happening at the Belize River Mouth, which is heavily trafficked due to tourism activities. So we figured in order to source the solution, because we already know what the problem is and we know the key stake holders are. For us to all have an understanding as to the way forward is to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together and we all came together to see how we can address this important situation.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Are there any specific steps that came out of that meeting that maybe you will look at in terms of moving forward?”

 

Jamal Galvez

“Yes, definitely. Currently, the Belize River Mouth which is the area where majority of the manatee deaths occur; currently, that area has no wake zones but people don’t necessarily respect it which is sad. It is a very, very important area for manatee, which is an area that should be considered for some level of protection, like some protected management area or something like that. But the way forward is because currently the river channel isn’t marked so every boater uses his own path to go across the water way so manatees are confused because they don’t know where the boats are coming from. So, we are thinking to get the channel marked clearly so boats stay in one channel and manatees will realize that is the boat channel so they will stay back eventually. So, we will get the channels marked, signs will be put up and cameras will be put up out there to monitor the area because if there is no enforcement it will be a waste of time. The people who don’t abide will be penalized, so sometimes we have to enforce sadly that is the way but something has to be done if we want to continue to see manatees around Belize nuh.”

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1 Response for “Manatee Fatalities Prompt Immediate Action from Conservationists”

  1. marie prefontaine says:

    Why aren’t you addressing the Manatee’s injuries and deaths on the New River? The sugar cane barges most likely kill more manatee than on the Belize river. Oh, but that may be politically incorrect!

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