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Dec 9, 2015

OCEANA Holds Annual Conference on Belize’s Water Systems

Today at the Radisson Fort George in Belize City, OCEANA Belize held a conference to further discuss the issue of offshore oil exploration in Belize and the state of Belize’s waters. Named “The Energy of Nature versus the Nature of Energy,” the conference looked at the management and sustainable usage of natural resources while boosting economic development. Just last week, the government issued a declaration that Cabinet had approved a policy that bans exploration in areas within the seven World Heritage Sites. The Cabinet also agreed to ban offshore exploration within one kilometer on either side of the barrier reef system. This decision by government, says OCEANA VP Janelle Chanona, is timely, but the struggle continues in protecting our resources.

 

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA

“The struggle continues because certainly we wholeheartedly endorse the government’s position that we must ensure protection of our marine resources, but we on this side—and we are on that same side with the government—we say that it has to be looking at it from a very comprehensive point of view. Looking at wind, ocean currents; once it is in the water, we have to look at that very meaningfully. The December declaration by the government of Belize is a major milestone in ensuring that the reef and a kilometer out on either side and the world heritage sites and Belize’s marine protected areas will never know or be risked with this type of activity. That is extremely significant and it was incredible seeing the world react to that. I think it reminds us that the world is watching what’s happening here in Belize. I think nationally, that in November following the elections, we had a Ministry of Climate Change created. I think again that brings it home that we are already feeling the impacts of climate change and it is up to this generation to ensure that we do everything possible to mitigate those impacts because we are already feeling them. Going forward definitely with an indefinite moratorium in place for all of Belize’s offshore area and a permanent band in all of these marine protected areas. For the foreseeable future, Belize’s marine resources are completely protected. In the interim, we will be working with the Ministry of Petroleum to ensure that there are conditions and safety standards are in place to ensure that if the moratorium is ever lifted by the people of Belize that they will be comforted by the fact that we have the right things in place to ensure protection of those resources.”

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