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Apr 23, 2015

OCEANA Says Government Plans Threaten the Industry

Janelle Chanona

But the natural resource has massive economic benefits, which are at risk of being threatened: tourism, the fisheries industry and shoreline. The documents released on January nineteenth, 2015 by the ministry, says Chanona, can have adverse effects on a multimillion dollar industry.

 

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“While the overall economic value of Belize’s marine resources is impossible to calculate, in 2008, a study by the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund, Central America documented the economic contribution of just three goods and services provided by our marine resources to our economy and people of Belize. In the report titled, Belize’s Coastal Capital, the study evaluated the average annual contribution of the reef and mangrove associated tourism, fisheries and shoreline protection services to the economy of Belize. As the researches pointed out, even though the scope was limited to just those three sectors, the economic goods and services provided by Belize’s “Coastal Resources are extremely valuable. Thousands of tourism and fishing jobs rely on the health of the reefs and mangroves; millions of dollars in coastal property relies on their invisible protect.” The study goes on to include that investing in the maintenance and enhancement of these benefits or at least prevent their continued and continuing rapid loss is thus an important investment in the health and sustainability of Belize’s economy. The WRI study conservatively estimates that tourism, fishing and shoreline protection account for more than seven hundred million Belize dollars annually, while higher estimates put that figure at more than a billion dollars in goods and services derived from Belize’s marine environment. In terms of tourism, according to the Belize Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism, one in every four Belizeans directly depends on tourism; that’s tens of thousands of Belizean breadwinners. Tourism is Belize’s number one foreign exchange earner and it is also one of the largest contributors to Belize GDP, accounting for roughly twenty-five percent of GDP and directly contributing over six hundred million dollars annually. Moreover, according to B.T.B.’s Travel and Tourism Statistic Digest, marine protected areas were the most popular attraction for visitors of 2012 with fifty-three point three percent of all tourists visiting marine protected areas and fifty-three point two percent visiting the Belize barrier reef, more specifically.”

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