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Jan 13, 2017

Seismic testing canceled; environmentalists want to know what happens next

Are the multi-beam and sea seep survey done once and for all? We can confirm that the activities have been cancelled – but what we don’t know is if it means that there is no possibility of this kinda of proposed activities in the future. Earlier this week the Ministry of Economic Development issued a release to cancel two consultations on multi-beam and sea seep that were to be held this month. The rather brief release didn’t give a reason why the consultations were cancelled; neither did it say that the activities were cancelled. This week, we reached out to Andre Cho, the Director of Petroleum and he referred us back to the C.E.O. of the Ministry of Economic Development. Since then, we have not been successful in reaching C.E.O. Yvonne Hyde. But one person with whom Hyde has spoken is the Vice President of OCEANA Belize. Today, Janelle Chanona spoke with us to say that she has been informed by way of a conversation – nothing in black and white and with no specifics or reason. She explains why it is imperative that G.O.B. issues a position.

 

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, VP, OCEANA Belize

“We have yet to receive anything in writing from the Ministry and I have yet to see anything issued from the Government Press Office. But I was able to speak to C.E.O. Hyde this afternoon, and she was able to confirm to me that the activities – both the multibeam and the sea seep survey have been cancelled and that the company TGS has been notified. Of course, we had written several letters but C.E.O. said she was out of office until this week so I made every effort to get at least some verbal indication of where we are but I certainly don’t blame anybody that they want to see that in writing and they want to know what the position is in black and white.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How does this decision settle with the Coalition – the N.G.O.’s who were advocating for a bit more transparency about these proposed works – now it is cancelled?”

 

Janelle Chanona

“A lot more. I think from here it has to be that this experience, given how the seismic was attempted in November to be done the way and the manner how it was done and certainly again this consultation and a lack of clarification and communication being made. I think it underscores clearly the sentiment we have heard from the San Pedro community; Caye Caulker, Hopkins, Placencia; we just met with them this week. We need to know once and for all what the Government’s intentions are.”

 

Reporter

“Did the C.E.O. share the reasons why these activities were ultimately cancelled?”

 

Janelle Chanona

“No. The C.E.O. didn’t share that and I do hope that would be the case because I think at the end of the day, I don’t blame stakeholders either to feel like we have been dancing around this issue or we have been going back and forth. And we need to know so that we can plan and we can’t always be coming back and I hope they don’t do this or wait to see if they come back or we will try it again later. This is too important – tourism and fishing are too important for us not to know exactly where we are. But, again, for reasons of clarification we need to know does this contract cancelled? Does a new contract comes up again with somebody else and again that drives home the point that this contract, this incident relates specifically to offshore oil exploration and that is why as a country, as a people, as a sovereign nation, we should be able together to determine what happens to this industry because we don’t want to come back to ‘ but I have already stated my position on offshore oil; how it would work with fishing; work with tourism’ and that is stakeholders saying that, not the Belize Coalitions saying that So, this has really highlighted the need for a very clear and very succinct exacting position on where we are with this industry. Is the Government of Belize saying yes to offshore oil? If not, we want them to institute what needs to be instituted to make sure that that does not happen.”

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