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Nov 29, 2021

Belize Coast Guard Celebrates 16 Years of Maritime Law Enforcement

The Belize Coast Guard turned sixteen on Sunday, but commemorated the momentous occasion today with a ceremony at its headquarters here in Belize City. This afternoon, a hundred and five men and women were promoted to various ranks. At the helm is Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, who has earned that distinction after completing his studies abroad in August. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was on hand for the brief ceremony and has the following story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Established in 2005, the Belize Coast Guard has grown to become a preeminent organization within the national security apparatus. Over the years, the men and women of the BCG have proven themselves to be more than competent in patrolling and enforcing the law in Belize’s sea space. Sixteen years later, a milestone is being celebrated with the promotion of one hundred and five officers, including Elton Bennett who has ascended to the distinguished rank of Rear Admiral.


Rear Adm. Elton Bennett

Rear Adm. Elton Bennett, Belize Coast Guard

“Twenty-five years of service to nation, ten years in the Belize Defense Force before I transferred over to the Belize Coast Guard. In a few years I will complete twenty-six years in uniform, and so to reach this point is a huge accomplishment. It’s not something that was on my mind when I joined the services but it was something that just eventually took its rightful place.”


It is only the second distinction to be awarded to an officer of Bennett’s status within the organization.  Beyond his ascension, nonetheless, is the continued work of the coast guard in carrying out its mandate.


Magali Marin Young

Magali Marin Young, Attorney General

“Beyond cruise tourism and the shipping industry, the Government of Belize, just two weeks ago, signed the Blue Bond Initiative which will help to protect thirty percent of our sea spaces extending beyond the limits of the territorial seas and into the exclusive economic zone. We currently have sixteen percent of our sea spaces under some form of marine protection and our ambition is to double that. The Government of Belize is committed to balancing conservation and development to ensure that our maritime resources and fish stock are conserved for generations to come.”


To make certain that those resources are protected, the efforts of the Belize Coast Guard are needed.


Elton Bennett

“It’s all about enforcement. You can legislate as much as you want, you can apply conservation regulations to our different sea spaces, but if you cannot enforce it. If you cannot have physical patrolling efforts out there then it all is for naught. So that’s exactly where the Belize Coast Guard will fit in to be able to provide the necessary patrol efforts that the Blue Bond Initiative will mandate the Government of Belize to do and we are currently configured uniquely across the country. We are embedded along with those NGOs that are chartered to protect Belizean marine parks and that will continue, that will expand.”


Attorney General Magali Marin Young, in addressing the gathering at today’s event, spoke on the pivotal role of the coast guard in Belize’s development.


Magali Marin Young

“As you can see, there has been one important underlying component in our continued economic growth and expansion in the maritime sector over the years and that is security. And the Belize Coast Guard has been a central figure of Belize’s maritime security. Over the past sixteen years, the Belize Coast Guard has grown from concept into a formidable military force, a credible and competent organization that has proven itself as an essential component to our security and stability.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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