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Dec 7, 2015

Conservation Group Questions G.O.B.’s Turneffe and PHMR Omissions

Cabinet’s recent approval of a policy to permanently prohibit offshore oil exploration in areas along the Belize Barrier Reef System and within seven World Heritage Sites in Belize, does not include the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, nor does it include the Turneffe Atoll.  While a moratorium is yet to be formalized and made official in writing, the move is hailed as a victory for the country and the people of Belize.  In a release issued earlier today, the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage states that the organization remains committed to advocating for a permanent ban in all of Belize’s waters, as well as protected areas onshore and within watersheds.

 

On the Phone: Candy Gonzalez, Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage

“The protection that is being given to the seven sites that are part of the World Heritage series of the Belize Barrier Reef don’t really have full protection. They have a cabinet paper that can change and unless we see something put into legislation, put into law to protect those areas, then they are a step up from being protected from the other areas that are a part of the Belize Barrier Reef. The problem is not including Port Honduras, not including Turneffe and really not including the entire barrier reef. Is that when there is an event, an oil event, in any part of the barrier reef, it affects the whole barrier reef because it is a contained system. So to protect one, you really have to protect all. Because Port Honduras and Turneffe are the two biggest, they are the ones that are most glaring in terms of the fact that these two aren’t protected. So all of them should be protected because it would impact every other site, including the World Heritage Site.”

 

Candy Gonzalez

Isani Cayetano

“Now in terms of the position that Coalition has taken, what is the next step?”

 

On the Phone: Candy Gonzalez

“The next step is to meet with the World Heritage Committee who may come to Belize. They were to come in the next week or so. Part of the timing of the cabinet doing this has to do with the World Heritage Committee coming here because the World Heritage Site, which is the Belize Barrier Reef is on the Endanger List. So that gives a black eye to Belize being on the Endanger List and they set out, the World Heritage Committee, things that had to be addressed before we got off the Endangered List and one was to ban oil exploration in the whole World Heritage Site area. And there were other things, in terms of selling land within the area and so one of the things that the Coalition intends to do is to discuss these issues with World Heritage Committee. And World Heritage Committee had also said that any kind of a ban on exploration had to be incorporated into law to be an effective ban and so we are following that. And then to continue to advocate for complete ban on offshore oil exploration and exploration in protected areas and watersheds because anything that happens on the land in Belize or anything that happens in the watershed also ends up in the reef. And so that’s why that is included in the work of the Coalition.”

 

The Coalition says it is looking forward to hearing government’s rationale for excluding the country’s largest marine protected area, the Turneffe Atoll.

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1 Response for “Conservation Group Questions G.O.B.’s Turneffe and PHMR Omissions”

  1. Belizean says:

    These “conservation facades” will never be satisfied. They have an insatiable hunger for power, land grabs and money.

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