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Apr 23, 2015

Coalition and OCEANA Condemn Offshore Exploration

It is common knowledge that the Belize Barrier Reef is the second longest barrier reef in the world; three of the Caribbean’s four atolls are found in Belizean waters and Belize is also home to the Blue Hole, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But this internationally recognized marine system is under threat by a plan by government for the petroleum industry in Belize. Despite the countless issues raised by several environmental groups and N.G.O.s for the past four years about offshore drilling and oil exploration in protected areas, in January, the Ministry issued the draft guidelines on oil exploration. Much to the chagrin of environmentalists, approximately ninety percent of the country’s waters have been zoned favorable for offshore exploration. Since then, several letters have been sent to the Minister of Energy on the objections with compelling research, studies and reasons for the retraction of the guidelines. To publicly share the comments forwarded to the Government of Belize, specifically to the Ministry of Energy, on the draft Petroleum Guidelines, a press conference was held today by OCEANA Belize and the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage. OCEANA Belize’s Vice President, Janelle Chanona maintains that offshore oil exploration poses as a threat to the resources.

 

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“The guidelines do not provide for adequate protection of Belize’s barrier reef which is fundamentally important to our economy and culture. There is no apparent effort to balance the risk from potential offshore oil activities to the sea and economy with the benefits that might accrue in the future. In short, the proposed guidelines do not comport with the law or with government’s more fundamental obligation to manage our marine resources for the best interest of the Belizean people. If you look at the proposed areas, that area in red; that very small area—I don’t know if anybody can see it so small—that is the only off-limit area. All the rest of Belize’s marine protected areas, including the great blue hole will be subject to offshore oil activities if this draft continues as is. The community organized the largest to date public poll on this same issue to the point where when we go out and talk to our members and I am sure Tanya would talk about this, on a national scope, people are like why are we still talking about this? Didn’t we already say no? why is this not being reflected and I think that is a question that we certainly echo because these comments that were shared this year was not done in a vacuum. The N.G.O. community and the environmental groups have been making comments and yet the government’s position has remained static as expressed by the Ministry of Energy.  I am sharing your confusion because believe me, we are just as confused as to how this map ends up being the draft; totally irrespective of everything that has been done and said before and totally irrespective of even our, perhaps greatest national marine treasure, the great blue hole; that is in a offshore zone area.”

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1 Response for “Coalition and OCEANA Condemn Offshore Exploration”

  1. Belizean says:

    …condemn offshore exploration, aaaand just about every other development thats attempted in this country…DO NOT COME TO BELIZE, OR TOUCH THIS COUNTRY!!!! Just too precious for any improvements.

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