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Aug 8, 2013

Reef Survey shows good news for Belize

The Catlin Seaview Survey is organized by the University of Queensland and promoted by the Catlin Insurance Company. It is a global campaign and a race against time to study coral reef. In the Caribbean reef health has declined and that is why the marine scientists from the group have targeted the region. So far the Seaview survey has taken place in Belize and Bermuda. Manuel Gonzalez, a marine scientist, says that there has been an improvement in the overall health of the Belize Barrier Reef, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the region.

 

Manuel Gonzalez, Marine Scientist

“It looks at how to take images to document reef at this stage and generate a global baseline of reef to rapidly suggest to people and stakeholders about regimes.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“The survey at this point will look at the Caribbean region. You’ve looked at Bermuda and Belize so far. What has been the result between those two countries?”

 

Manuel Gonzalez

“Belize is in an amazing state. The Mesoamerican barrier reef is the most prominent in the region. We’ve seen areas in a very good condition and there are working towards progress, but some areas are not so good. So we still have some areas with the potential to become better in the future.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“There was an impression that our reef was in decline in the past few years.”

 

Manuel Gonzalez

Manuel Gonzalez

“Even in decline, fortunately the Caribbean reef had gone from around sixty percent to about around ten percent in the last thirty-forty years. So that is why the campaign came straight to the Caribbean to come up with solutions and baselines that can actually advise as quickly as possible how to preserve the reef.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“And this is because of the degree in temperature change in the Caribbean that’s very notable right?”

 

Manuel Gonzalez

“There have been changes in temperature and also hurricanes, but there is also a local impact on reef. Reefs are being overfished and being polluted for a long time and the combination or sea-state temperatures, hurricanes and local impact is what have been causing the short decline on coral reef.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“The local impact, does it take into account tourists maybe from cruise ships who go out and venture on the reef itself?”

 

Manuel Gonzalez

“Well tourists are the main users of the reef, but the impact of the cruise ships relate more to the dragging and ports where they can anchor. So fortunately there are not many accesses in the barrier reef here and the les impact we have in there, the better off for the reef.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“You mentioned advice. What would be the advice for Belize and where you are off to next?”

 

Manuel Gonzalez

“Belize is going one step ahead of many other countries in the region. They’ve already banned pirate fishing. We wouldn’t be able to come out with the right decisions at the moment since we just came out the field. The local foundations here is going for that. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is perhaps one of the most organized regions. We are just going to come back again with our images and suggest areas that haven’t been targeted for all the conservation regimes.”

 

The marine scientists have moved onto Mexico. When the survey is complete, it will be uploaded to an open access database which will be shared with affected communities so they can develop strategies to offset or slow the damage. 

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