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Oct 19, 2016

Environmental Organizations Continue to Sound Alarm on Seismic Testing

Seismic testing in offshore Belize starts on Thursday. On Tuesday night you heard Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria say that the testing is a part of a regional initiative. The project started with a multi-beam survey and is now being followed up with seismic testing. G.O.B. approved the project following the D.O.E.’s recommendation that an E.I.A. wasn’t necessary. The marine conservation community took a swing at G.O.B. saying the advice they received wasn’t based on proper science and sound information. The department was asked to disclose the documents and findings used to determine that an E.I.A. wasn’t needed.  The environmentalists say that seismic testing, although in the deep sea, may have crippling impacts. G.O.B. fired back at the conservation community, particularly calling out OCEANA in Belize, to say that they didn’t have their facts straight. Well, it is a case of he said and she said, and today the conservation community including, Healthy Reefs, B.T.I.A., Audubon Society and OCEANA, came out again to say that this is something that we must not let go. They say it is imperative that Belizeans pay attention:

 

{Video of vessel courtesy San Pedro Sun}

 

Amanda Burgos Acosta

Amanda Burgos Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“This is a concern of national importance. This is a way of development that we are moving that is in contradiction of what we are already seeing revenues already being generated from. To say that this will start on the twentieth which is tomorrow is quite alarming. There are fishermen, and if we know the practices that occur, sometimes they go out for weeks at time and how will we communicate to them what is happening. Again, as has been mentioned we have been getting mixed messages about what the safe distance is when you are diving. The Sarteneja and Chunox, Copperbank Northern fisherman free dive. So, what is the impact to them? What will it be? The tourism sector; we have diving as one of the most popular activities that we are exercising. We are hearing one kilometer will be the distance to the atolls, whereas everything we have read is saying ten kilometers still requires a lot of active communication between atolls and the seismic operations. And there is a lot of questions as to the impacts.  Basically, the call is to halt right now and to really assess what we are doing. What is being impacted and the call is for consultation, participatory consultation; not just tell me, let us have an active conversation and engage in this. We have had conversations about the multi-beam and but to the rush into the seismic to have a follow up on that. Seismic to us is an indicator. What is the data for? Ultimately it is for oil exploration. So, it is a policy. You are guiding where you are going. You are showing us the dots and we have to start connecting it.”

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