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Apr 13, 2021

Environmental Activists Argue that Corona Reef is in Belizean Waters

In January, a team of researchers from the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, TIDE, was stopped by members of the Guatemalan Armed Forces from conducted scientific studies within the area of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve known as Corona Reef.  The incident sparked public outrage because the location in question spans the maritime boundaries of Belize and Guatemala.  On April seventh, the Ministry of the Blue Economy issued a joint statement along with the Belize Fisheries Department and TIDE stating that while the area is under-represented as a marine protected area, it is an important natural environment for fish spawning and aggregation.  Activists Giovanni Brackett and Wil Maheia are up in arms, arguing that Corona Reef and the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve are in both in Belize’s territorial waters and there is no need to obtain Guatemalan cooperation to study it. 

 

Giovannie Brackett

Giovannie Brackett, Activist

“First of all, if you recall, TIDE researchers were aggressed by the Guatemalan Armed Forces back in January.  Now myself, with many Belizeans, including Wil, we were very vociferous over social media, I even called the talk shows to express my discontent with what happened.  But what has transpired with this latest press release from the [Ministry of] Blue Economy and the joint press release with fisheries, along with TIDE in collaboration with this Guatemalan NGO to share research over Belize’s portion of the Corona Reef system and this Guatemalan NGO will do, supposedly, their section.  Now that is ludicrous because when you look at the EEZ data, as I’ve quoted in the press release, is that they were unable to point out or even show any trans-boundary or any of the reef systems in Guatemala.  There are two senior experts that I quoted in the press release who have gone on record as well to say that no section of the reef is in or in the Sapodilla or the Corona Reef is in Guatemala.  If that is the case, then whoever wants to believe that can pick up a brochure and go snorkel down in Guatemala.”

 

Wil Maheia

Wil Maheia, Activist

“As far as the Corona Reef is concerned, I have no objection of Belize collaborating with Guatemala or Honduras in doing research, but they must understand that this reef is inside Belize’s territory. I believe that precedence was set when the area was declared a marine reserve and there was no objection from Guatemala at that time when this area was declared a marine reserve.  I understand that Guatemala has also declared a part of their waters as a marine reserve.  I just believe that we have to educate our people, the Belizean people as to the extent of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve and what it entails.  It entails the Corona Reef.  I think that researchers have proven that the Corona Reef is inside Belize’s territory.”


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