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Oct 28, 2019

Building Coastal Resilience Through Innovation

Experts from the National Oceanography Center are currently in Belize carrying out critical work on the sea bed. To collect data, they are employing the Sea Worker, a thirteen-foot vessel, which is loaded with oceanographic equipment to measure the quality of water affecting the ecosystems at sea. The information will be used to review the coastal zone management policy. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme is supporting Caribbean and Pacific Small Island Developing States to preserve their marine environments and make the most of their maritime resources to catalyze sustainable economic development, whilst safeguarding the health of the ocean.


Chantalle Samuels

Chantalle Samuels, Chief Executive Officer, CZMAI

“Along the lines of innovation, we would like to showcase a piece of technological advance that our partners at the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme are very well versed with.  Through that programme, we in Belize are benefiting from technical exchanges with experts with scientists in the realm of coastal management.”


Scientists from the National Oceanography Centre have commenced fieldwork using a special vessel called a Sea Worker, to characterize the environmental sensitivity of Belizean coastal waters.


Terry Wood

Terry Wood, National Oceanography Centre

“It’s a thirteen-foot, fully autonomous vessel, diesel controlled vessel which we can basically put a mission in and it will run the mission.  Crucially, it has three scientific payloads which we change.  They are easy to change and they are easy to set up.  So one is a set of oceanographic equipment which measures fundamentally water quality type equipment.  Another is side scan sonar and what that does is enable you to map the seabed and then the third one is multi-beam sonar which maps the seabed in a slightly different way.”


The information being generated through these activities will directly contribute to a coastal zone management policy review currently being conducted by Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute.  They will help to facilitate informed, evidence-based decision making towards balancing the tensions between different activities and services within the coastal zone, and conservation of the vital ecosystems service it provides.


Chantalle Samuels

“As a coastal manager, we need data; we need evidence to make the right sorts of decision now and for the future.  And so the kind of equipment and technology that they have brought to Belize will help to reduce savings in personnel that would normally be required, time and other areas.  So it is with open arms that we receive this sort of equipment.  The data to be collected will fill a lot of gaps that we have and improve our understanding of the interactions that’s happening on land and how it’s affecting our ecosystems at sea.”


Over the coming weeks, scientists from the University of Belize, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, CZMAI and the Belize Port Authority will be working together to map the seafloor and describe marine habitats around Belize City.


Terry Wood

“We’ve come back.  We’ve got more information on what we want to do with the water quality, so we’ve spent a good solid week looking at water quality around the city.  Then we’ve just come back from Turneffe Atoll where we’ve been mapping below the seabed, looking at the geology, if you like, below the seabed, looking at the quantity of carbon that may well be in there and we’re correlating that with some physical coring samples that were taken by our scientists a few days previously.  We’re now moving on to do some mapping work around the seabed near Goff’s Caye.”


These activities culminate in Coastal Awareness Week, a series of public engagement events led by CZMAI in their efforts to support the sustainable use and development of coastal resources. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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