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Dec 2, 2022

Blue Economy Climate Resilience Forum Ends With Blue Fair

The blue economy is an emerging sector in Belize and the Ministry of Blue Economy is investing in increasing awareness on the opportunities that exist within this sector. A two-day Blue Economy Climate Resilience Forum came to an end today with a fair. Several N.G.O.s and entrepreneurs that either work to protect the ocean, or get their revenues from its resources, had display booths out at the fair. News Five’s Paul Lopez was out at the event to find out more about Belize’s blue economy. He filed the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Ministry of Blue Economy brought its 2022 Blue Economy Climate Resilience Forum to an end today with a blue economy fair at the Belize Civic Center.  The fair featured booths from entrepreneurs and conservation groups that all play an integral role in building this blue sector. We spoke with Maxine Monsanto, Director of Blue Economy in the Ministry of Blue Economy.


Maxine Monsanto

Maxine Monsanto, Director of Blue Economy, Ministry of Blue Economy

“Today is day two of the 2022 Blue Economy Climate Resilience Forum and Fair. Yesterday we had the forum which is the technical side with panel discussions. Today, we have the fair. We have over twenty-two booths here educational booths, providing information on different business sectors, information on different agencies and entities that work within the sector. For example, we have Hol Chan, Mar Alliance, Belize High Seas Fisheries Unit, the Ministry of Blue Economy, as well as the Fisheries Department, Coastal Zone and many others. We also entrepreneurs like a representative from Tobaco Caye selling fishery products, food here.”


Paul Lopez

“Based on your knowledge how vast are the career opportunities within this sector, the blue economy?”


Maxine Monsanto

“Currently we have the Maritime Economic Plan that has seven sectors that we have had pathways for. And, we have traditonals sectors, which are fishing, general mining, tourism, and coastal development and we have potential opportunities in sectors that are emerging, doing research in marine, renewable energy, in deep sea fishing, in moving further into developing specific products in the marine sector. The reality is that blue economy and activities within the blue space are opening up globally and within Belize.”


MarAlliance, a conservation group that trains local fishermen to help at sea and engage their communities with information and insight on important species, was out at today’s fair. We spoke with Jamal Andrewin-Bohne, the National Coordinator for MarAlliance in Belize.


Jamal Andrewin-Bohne

Jamal Andrewin-Bohne, National Coordinator, MarAlliance Belize

“Today we tried to make it as tactile as possible so we artifacts of the different species we study at MarAlliance just to give people an idea of the diversity of the mega fauna we have in Belize and how to understand them and preserve them for the benefit of multitude of stakeholders in Belize. On the table we have, the large one you are glancing at is a Mako Shark. We also have the reef, nurse shark, an ancient speciemen from a Megalodon, the fossilized one you are seeing there, as well as the preserved jawbone of a spotted eagle ray.”


Paul Lopez

“What do you believe your contributions are to the blue economy. I know you work with sustainability. How does that contribute to the economical growth of this sector?”


Jamal Andrewin-Bohne
“Well the species that we focus on are the bedrock of this economy. These species, not only the sharks and rays and turtles, but the large commercial finfish, the groupers, and snappers, they are not only, they have extractive value. There are thousands of Belizeans who rely on these species to sustain their families either directly or through economic gain, but also through the tourism industry. The none extractive industry where people pay thousands of dollars to swim and boast that they have swam with these species we have in abundance.”


And, speaking of extractive value, Margaret Vernon-Robateau, owns a small seafood business.  She is also the organizer of Conch Festival, an annual festival held on Tobacco Caye, off the coast of Dangriga.


Margaret Vernon-Robateau

Margaret Vernon-Robateau, Organizer, Conch Festival

“Today I have all seafood. I have the wilks soup, I have conch fritters. I have whole snapper and jack. I have lobster and rice and beans. It goes along with plantain and coleslaw.”


Paul Lopez

“So, give me a bit about your knowledge of the blue economy. Is that a term you are familiar with?”


Margaret Vernon-Robateau

“Not really. I am trying to understand what they are making of it right now.”


Paul Lopez

“What do you do with the finance is it something that support your family?”


Margaret Vernon-Robateau

“Yeah I have a big family, a lot of grandchildren in high school and my children that is what I do. I don’t make a lot of money but I try to turn it over to fix up the island, clean the plastics and keep it clean.”



“For you how important is the sea? How important is protecting the sea?”


Margaret Vernon-Robateau

“It is very important because that is part of my knowledge. I like to swim and I like to see the little fishes and I was asking them about the sargassum because I use to rake it up to fill my yard because it has a lot of livelihood in it. So, maybe they could pay the fishermen because things are very expensive now, maybe they could give them a job from it.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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