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Jan 17, 2019

Turneffe Atoll Trust Pledges Continued Protection of the Marine Reserve

Alex Anderson

The Turneffe Atoll is one of Belize’s seven marine protected areas. Located twenty miles east of Belize City, the Turneffe Atoll is considered the largest, most biologically diverse coral atoll in the Western Hemisphere. So when news of an Israeli N.G.O. buying a piece of the atoll broke, many concerns were raised. But as Executive Director of Turneffe Atoll Trust, Alex Anderson, explained on Wednesday, This is My Earth, TIME, managed to raise funds to purchase a five-acre piece of land privately owned by another organization. After the land transaction is completed, the title will be transferred to the Trust, which has pledged to maintain the natural state of the piece of land. Anderson says that the Trust has been on the lookout to make sure that all potential developers follow all laws and not destroy the habitat of the atoll.

 

Alex Anderson, Executive Director, Turneffe Atoll Trust

“I think when you look at Turneffe and understand the framework how land use plays into it, we need to recognized that an area and an atoll that is considered the most biologically diverse atoll in the western hemisphere requires, I think, a lot more stringent oversight when it comes to development activities. I think from a strategic perspective we don’t want to say no developments at Turneffe. But if there are ought to be developments, they need to be done responsibly. They need to go through the full EIA process. They need to ensure that all the required permits and regulatory agencies are on board. TASA has been notified. We both operate within Turneffe and as the co-managers; if they are not aware then something is drastically wrong. So yes they are aware. I cannot speak for them but from our end, Turneffe Atoll Trust, we are dedicated to ensure that when development projects pop up at Turneffe we will try our best and possible to reach out to the government agencies, to our partners in terms of the commercial fishermen, the private resorts on the Turneffe atoll, the private land owners. We will reach out to them to ensure that they know what the laws are; they know where to go and get the required permits. In terms of the permitting agencies, we will call you to see if there is any way we can assist in terms of getting boats out there to see when there are projects going on that are clearly illegal and not following the required laws.”

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