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Oct 27, 2011

Gulf of Honduras Project Environmental Awareness

The Gulf of Honduras Project; not much is known about it, but it is an initiative that involves three countries that share marine ecosystems. Its goal is to reverse the degradation in the Gulf of Honduras through a coordinated plan of action that involves a range of components.  You have heard about it on the airwaves in the past weeks, and this morning at a press conference, environmentalists discussed the plans to stop the pollution. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

There are unlimited marine wonders in the Gulf of Honduras, which is an area of the Caribbean Sea along the coasts of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. But among the three countries, there are five operating ports and the transport of cargo contributes greatly to maritime pollution. The Gulf of Honduras Project, seeks to undo the damage that has been done and prevent further pollution.

Edas Munoz Galean

Edas Munoz Galeano, Project Director, Gulf of Honduras Project

“The Gulf of Honduras Project is a regional initiative. It is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It is administered by the Inter-American Development Bank and the main executor of this project is the Central American Maritime Transport Commission which is called COCATRAM and co-executed also by CCAD, the environmental direction of the entire region. The ultimate goal of this project is to contribute to diminish the pollution situation of the Gulf of Honduras and also to give the countries technical and scientific information for them to take best decisions regarding the environmental management and also, we are trying to give to the countries, which we call the strategic action plan.”

Mario Gongora

Mario Gongora, External Consultant, Gulf of Honduras Project

“The long term objective of the strategic action plan is to promote the Gulf of Honduras social and economic development in order to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants through the restoration and preservation of the marine coastal ecosystems, the conservation of its biodiversity and the sustainable and use of its natural resources.”

Also involved in the project, are the ports operating in the city and Big Creek, which have both established environmental units.

Raineldo Guerrero, Chief Executive Officer, Port of Belize

Raineldo Guerrero

“As a part of the project, we developed a vision statement specifically for the environmental unit: “the Port will promote, execute and maintain environmental protection activities that will work in conjunction with the Port’s primary functions to improve and increase its image, competitiveness and profitability.” Some of the environmental elements within the project, which are the solid waste management, water management, air quality management, hazardous material management, soil quality management and then the introduction of some best management practices.”

Gustavo Carillo

Gustavo Carillo, Manager, Port of Big Creek

“Most of our exports go through the Port of Big Creek and because of that situation we have had an environmental management team from the inception of the Port. They originate basically from the fields where the produce is grown, all the way to the Port. So the Port of Big Creek has been very environmentally conscious in that respect due to the type and the nature of the cargo we ship through the Port.”

But Chief environmental officer, Martin Alegria, explains that in Belize, the sources of marine pollution are not only from cargo ships.

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer

Martin Alegria

“Ongoing initiatives in Belize in terms of the main focus of the Gulf of Honduras Project is the main issue of marine pollution. It can be like I said earlier, land base sources; anything that happens in the mountains ends up in the sea. In this case, our beloved Belize barrier reef. But not only that, we have marine related impacts. Ship generated impacts is just one, marine related is many. So those are two focus areas that the government of Belize is looking for to begin addressing more seriously beginning now and for the next five to ten years; the whole issue of marine pollution and prevention thereof.”

According to Project Director, Edas Munoz Galeano, it is a multi-million dollar project, but the environmental benefits are worth every penny.

Edas Munoz Galeano

“The amount of the project is about seven point two million dollars. Four point two million dollars comes from GEF and the rest of it through the contribution of the benefitting countries; Belize, Guatemala, Honduras. The contributions are made in kind or could be also through direct investment done by each country.”

Two ports in Guatemala and one in Honduras are also involved in the initiative. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

After the project concludes next June, COCATRAM will continue to follow up on the initiatives and work along with Belize, Guatemala and Honduras to keep maritime pollution at a minimum.

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