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Oct 20, 2017

Will status of World Heritage site improve?

Janelle Chanona

As you heard, the offshore petroleum moratorium is an unprecedented step towards protecting Belize’s Barrier Reef Reserve System, as the ban covers Belize’s entire maritime area including the exclusive economic zones.  In terms of next steps, the public is invited to participate in the House Committee phase of the legislative process. The offshore oil moratorium bill has been referred to the Natural Resources House Committee which is set to meet at the end of the month at National Assembly Building in Belmopan. Local conservationists call on the public to review the bill and promise to do their own revision of the bill with recommendations.

 

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“The staff of the National Assembly has informed us, the Coalition and Oceana, that committee is set to meet on October 30th at ten-thirty in the morning right here at the National Assembly. Why is that important? Because the House committee will allow for the public to come in whether in person or in writing submit their thoughts and their feelings on what the bill purports to do. We don’t have a final draft of the bill, we were promised that by end of day but definitely in terms of encouraging the public to read very thoroughly on what that document says and then to show up on October 30th to say if they support it. We will be sharing our comments to the draft as soon as we have the final version so that the public would see what we would be recommending in terms of changes and certainly for Oceana, we will be making sure that as part of the official record before the committee, we will be laying, for consideration, the tens of thousands of signatures, petitions, letters, even the selfies of support we have gotten on our advocacy of this because again we need to make sure that is officially documented to our Belizean leaders.”

 

Valentino Shal, Advocacy Lead, World Wildlife Fund

Valentino Shal

“The introduction of this Bill to pass a moratorium on offshore activities in our maritime areas including the barrier reef is incredible progress if you consider that just last year around this same time we were having seismic ship conducting testing in this same area and to have this being passed today is incredible progress that is only possible because of the support of the Belizean people, organizations we work with locally and our friends abroad. So, we are quite pleased with the decision because it puts Belize in a very good footing towards sustainable development and of course the world heritage site as you mentioned has been on the ‘in danger list’ for quite some time and this is one of the very important steps that needs to be taken off the in danger list so we are very pleased with this decision.”

 

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