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Sep 4, 2015

34 Manatees Died from Boat Accidents in 2014

For years now, the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, through the Belize Manatee Conservation Program, has been creating awareness on the death of manatees caused by boaters in no wake zones and other specific areas that the mammals frequent. In 2014, a total of thirty-four Antillean manatees, which has its highest population in Belize, died from boating incidents and this year, the numbers are greater. With four months remaining to the end of the year, that number for 2015 is already at thirty-seven; and that’s only the reported cases. It’s of concern to Program Coordinator, Jamal Galvez.

 

Jamal Galvez

Jamal Galvez, Coordinator, Belize Manatee Conservation Program

“We have identified the users of the area that we considered the hotspot for manatee deaths. We’ve invited them out to come to the workshop. This workshop as organized by the B.T.B. along with the Coastal Zone Management, Sea to Shore Alliance and Wild Tracks, Friends of Swallows Caye and Port Authority. We have a bunch of people…we have identified the stakeholders that are in charge of many different aspects and we figured if we are going to make this work, we gotta get all the pieces of the puzzle together. We invited these guys today to get them to see first-hand what is the issue that we are facing, how they are causing these troubles and how they can change their behavior. So far it seems very positive; it is very important—education is key. We don’t want to be out there penalizing people, giving out tickets and whatever. We want to give education so that people can understand how they are affecting and how they ca make a difference. I think negligence has some percentage to do with it. We want to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe it is the lack of knowledge. We often spread the word in everywhere that we can. And we continue to spread the word. Our efforts is big and it is going to get better. I feel that if we equip them with the knowledge, they may change their behavior, but in everything, you have a few individuals that choose to be negligent, choose to be ignorant. And we are going to have to deal with those people accordingly; the law is going to have to deal with those individuals. The others that don’t know we are going to share with them how we can. The Port Authority and other government agency will hold them with their mandate to enforce these penalties.”

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