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Apr 30, 2003

Fisheries brings conservation message to schools

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In a country with an abundance of environmental attractions, Belize’s coastline, cayes and reefs may constitute our most important national resource. That’s why authorities are taking no chances…by getting their out conservation message to the young.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

The captive audience at Saint John Vianney Primary School was focussed on learning about the protection of Belize’s marine protected resources. A team of visiting Fisheries Department officials, Isias Majil and Pauline Rhamdas, today began a countrywide tour that will bring them face to face with thousands of youngsters, for the purpose of:

Isais Majil, Marine Protected Areas Coordinator

“Passing all information necessary to students, so that they can play their role in protecting our natural resources.”

Those resources fall under the care of the Fisheries Department, which is the local contact for the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Systems project. Last week, the M.B.R.S. handed over close to a million dollars worth of equipment to use in the protection of coastal marine resources, and officials are wasting no time putting the material to use. Earlier this month, Noel Jacobs, who is the regional director of the M.B.R.S. project, told News 5 that compared to other countries, Belize is a leader in taking care of its marine resources.

Noel Jacobs, Regional Director, M.B.R.S. Project

“In our particular case in the M.B.R.S., we deal in particular with coastal recourses and from a regional perspective, Belize’s coastal resources are well off. We have a lot of bad examples within the M.B.R.S. region in other countries, but of the three, to date Belize seems to be better off in terms of the status of the natural resources. And it may be due to the fact that population density is much more smaller here. Tourist visitation, even though it has increased drastically in Belize, it’s still very small compared to other areas in the M.B.R.S. region. And so there is a direct link between the status of the resources and density of human presence.”

Majil says the audiences on the countrywide tour are carefully chosen to maximize the chances of effectively getting the message across.

Isais Majil

“At this moment we have targeted primary schools, since as you know they are, at Standard Five and Standard Six, are going to be passing out to high school. So we are targeting this group of students, so that it can be passed unto their folks at home and friends and things like that.”

The slide and poster presentations are intended to focus the children’s attention on the role they can play to ensure that these resources are around for many years to come. And while it will take much more than a quick visit to the classroom, Majil hopes that the seeds that are being planted now will yield a bountiful harvest.

Isais Majil

“I will be mentioning about the role of the Fisheries Department, what we do and how they can play vital role in helping us to protect our natural resources, the marine resources…Actually we ‘re going to be doing this nationwide, we have selected some very important schools that are at strategic points along the coast where we will go and do this presentation. And as part of a reminder, we’re going to be leaving them with a ruler, some posters and some fact sheets about the fisheries regulations.”

Majil and Rhamdas hope to have their list of targeted schools covered by the end of May. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The schools visited today also included Wesley Upper, St. John’s Anglican and Holy Redeemer. On Friday the fisheries team will visit Ladyville and Orange Walk Town.

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