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Oct 25, 2022

Belize Coast Guard Explains Strategic Importance of Sapodilla Cayes

The Belize Coast Guard has maintained a law enforcement presence at Sapodilla Caye Range with a forward operating base at Hunting Caye.  Notwithstanding the geopolitical issue at play between Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, explains the strategic importance of the remote string of islands.


Rear Admiral Elton Bennett

Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard

“The coast guard maintains a forward operating base in the Sapodilla Cayes at Hunting Caye which is one of the government-controlled islands.  We have different government agencies there and we‘ve always maintained a forward operating base at Hunting Caye and from there we conduct operations.  We launch operations south, southwest, east.  One of those prominent operations that we conduct from Hunting Caye is towards the Corona Reef, that disputed area between Belize and Guatemala and we‘ve had confrontations with Belize and Guatemala in that area as recent as in August.  So Hunting Caye is very strategic for us in terms of demonstrating where the entrance of Belize‘s territorial seas commence and where our exclusive economic zone and our internal waters are separated via the territorial sea.  So it‘s a very strategic location for us.  We‘ve been flying our national flag there from the time the British were here, eventually handing over to the Belize Defense Force.  Presence was maintained by the Belize Maritime Wing and the Belize Coast Guard took that over in 2005.  So maintaining a presence at the Sapodilla Cayes has been very strategic for the Government of Belize over the years.”


Isani Cayetano

“Talk to us about the remoteness of this particular location because my understanding is that it‘s quite far away, in terms of being out in the oceans there.”


Elton Bennett

“It‘s a good distance from mainland.  It would normally take us about one hour from Placencia or Punta Gorda to reach out at Hunting Caye.  Very remote indeed, hardly visited by Belizeans, so you quite often get a lot of Hondurans and Guatemalan tourists that will go out at the Sapodilla Cayes. It‘s very distant but a very important place for us, not only for geopolitics but strategic importance, but it‘s also a marine reserve.  So there‘s a lot that goes on at the Sapodilla Caye in terms of sovereignty, in terms of marine environmental protection, fisheries enforcement, as well.  Quite often, we we‘d come across Honduran fisher folks that would be entering Belize illegally to conduct fishing or even Guatemalans who would be entering Belizean waters illegally to conduct fishing.  So our presence here is a very active one for law enforcement and rescue purposes.”

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