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Oct 3, 2016

OCEANA Questions Department of Environment Over Petroleum Work

Janelle Chanona

Last Wednesday, the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum sent out a release stating that along with the Geology Department, it will be conducting a multi-beam and sea seep survey to the east of the barrier reef and in the exclusive economic zone excluding all marine protected areas, as well as areas banned from petroleum exploration. The release stated that the survey is part of a bigger regional physical survey being done in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the Mexican Gulf of Mexico and east of the Yucatan Peninsula. The purpose of the survey, according to the release, is to gather new regional data to advance the knowledge of geology and hydrocarbon systems. But the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage responded with a letter to Chief Environmental Officer, Martin. We spoke with OCEANA’s Vice President, Janelle Chanona, who told us some of the concerns about this proposed multi-beam work:


Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“We were informed that there was going to be multi-beam work to map Belize’s entire sea floor. Multi-beam is a relative new form of technology to this part of the world and as far as I have been made to understand, very limited in country experience. So, the Coalition has written a letter to the Chief Environmental Officer, Mr Martin Algeria, asking for additional information and background in how the department was able to reach a conclusive clause that there was little to no environmental impacts. Simultaneous to that, we have also been made to understand that there’s a proposal to do seismic work for the entire country of Belize, as well offshore. We understand that Cabinet has not approved that but there is that proposal. So we have also written and asked for copies of contracts and any materials related to that because we definitely want to see what the proposal is so we know what is at stake. As you know, we maintain that seismic activity would have very serious environmental impacts and we certainly believe that before any of that happens, it should be made public and go through the proper protocols and procedures before any sort of activity takes place.”


The survey is expected to start this early month and is expected to last for a month. 

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