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Oct 20, 2016

Next Step is Firming Up Moratorium and Moving Toward Petroleum Ban

Amanda Acosta

The surveys being conducted before the suspension was announced involved two separate methodologies: multi-beam and seep sea surveys. It is the latter that has the environmental community up in arms because, as Executive Director of the Belize Audubon Society Amanda Acosta explains, the type of survey involved leads in only one direction – to drilling for petroleum offshore Belize in sensitive areas. OCEANA’s Janelle Chanona further details how legal enforcement of the established moratorium on petroleum-related activity offshore, will solidify Belize’s position on this critical environmental issue.

 

Amanda Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“The second was the seismic. What it is, is that there is a large initiative, called “Gigante”, and you can look it up on the T.G.S. website, and Gigante includes Mexico, Belize and Honduras, and the idea was to do some hydrocarbon mapping, to look at the reserves which were in the area. So, yes, it’s part of a bigger initiative; which is why we were even, I think from a Government end, why we were approached for this study; because everything we have been told is that the company is, or was looking to front the cost, and then from the sale of the information data and the analysis, they would recover their costs.”

 

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“The moratorium, which the Government announced had been in place in June of 2015, needs to be formalized. There needs to be a piece of legislation that says, there is a moratorium in place for the waters of Belize, and here are the conditions under which that moratorium can be lifted. One of the conditions that we had proposed was a national referendum, to say that, as one of the conditions there should be a national poll, an official poll, of how Belizeans feel about offshore oil. The second piece of legislation, as per another press release, another announcement, was the one the Government made on December first, 2015, which says that there was a permanent ban along the Belize Barrier Reef, and around the marine protected areas, around the World Heritage Sites, around the atolls with a buffer alongside. That is still as far as it got: a letter confirming what was announced in a press release, but there is still no legislation. So we have been acting in good faith, that government has announced that it has been working on something, and that is part of the reason why you saw this response, because: how can you say there’s a moratorium on offshore oil exploration, and then you sign an agreement – you’ve been talking about an agreement for some time, and then you sign an agreement this year to do seismic? Let’s be very clear: seismic is data that only offshore oil companies would be using. Seismic done offshore – that means an offshore oil exploration activity, and with that data sale? Who’s buying seismic offshore data? Companies interested in doing offshore oil exploration. And that is, to their credit, the big picture that tourism stakeholders, that fishing stakeholders immediately realized. So they were not focused on whether seismic is good, bad or in-between; they were focused on the fact that seismic means oil; and this means that we are looking to make a seismic shift, from an eco-friendly, eco-based product to offshore oil.”

 

The end goal of the environmental community represented in the Coalition is a complete ban of petroleum-related activities offshore Belize.

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1 Response for “Next Step is Firming Up Moratorium and Moving Toward Petroleum Ban”

  1. joe says:

    unbelievable, if there is oil under our sea I say “dig baby dig.”
    We need the money for our people.

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