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Feb 12, 2014

The 2014 Eco-Audit

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, also known as the Great Mayan Reef, stretches over six hundred and twenty-one miles from the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula down to Belize, Guatemala and the Bay Islands of Honduras.  Its coral reefs are well-known among divers the world over for their eye-catching beauty and multicolor displays, but are we doing enough to safeguard these natural submarine resources?  That’s the subject of a recent study published by the Healthy Reefs Initiative which was presented today.  It is called the 2014 Eco-Audit and it categorizes the performance of progress being made in carrying out a number of reef management indicators.  Roberto Pott is the Belize Coordinator for the Healthy Reefs Initiative.

 

Roberto Pott, Belize Coordinator, Healthy Reefs Initiative

“What we’ve been doing over the last two or three years, the first Eco-Audit came out in 2011 is the systematic evaluation of recommendations to improve management of our marine resources.  And so, this was the second installment of that evaluation and we looked at twenty-two indicators originally and we’ve expanded that up to twenty-eight.  And so we’re looking at a variety of issues under the theme of marine protected areas management, ecosystem-based fisheries management, coastal zone management and we’re also looking at how we manage our sewerage and waste water and how we look at also our sustainability in the private sector.  That’s some of the main themes and then also some of the global themes, the global policies that impact how we manage our marine resources.”

 

Roberto Pott

Isani Cayetano

“I understand that a number of stakeholders were also present at this morning’s event.  Can you speak to us on their role in what is taking place with regards to the audit?”

 

Roberto Pott

“Okay.  Well we were glad to have the Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development, the honorable Santiago Castillo who spoke about some of the initiatives under his ministry, particularly with the development of a waste water treatment plant down in Placencia which is a huge capital investment.  And he also commented on some of the plans in the works.  We’re hoping to see these plans come to fruition which would be incentives for the private sector to invest in green technology, low energy use, low waste water output. We also have issues such as coastal development.  One of the big things that’s still a sore spot for us is that we don’t have a coastal zone plan.  So, in essence, we are at risk of haphazardly developing.  Belize is a prime example of what use to be a Belizean beach right next to a sewer pond, and so these are the things that we want to avoid going forward and a coastal zone management plan would help to address those issues.”

 

According to Dr. Melanie McField, Director of Healthy Reefs Initiative, all four Mesoamerican Reef System countries, including Belize, have now surpassed the twenty percent of sea within marine protected area target set by several other countries in the Caribbean Challenge.

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