... while Oceana looks at lessons

The Anti-Offshore drilling sentiment, which has brought environmentalists together in Belize, is also spreading in other regions. The United States of America on the heels of the major BP Deep Horizon Disaster, has pulled back on offshore drilling on its coast. The US Department of the Interior has announced today that it would not include the Atlantic, Pacific or the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in its new Five-Year OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, declaring these regions to be off limits. These areas were being considered for oil and gas development. It’s a boost for the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage, the umbrella group for all parties who do not wish to see offshore drilling in Belize. According to OCEANA’s Vice President in Belize, the U.S. government’s declaration comes at a time when OCEANA is planning a public consultation and lecture on experiences about U.S. oil disasters.

Audrey Matura Shepherd, V.P. OCEANA BELIZE

Audrey Matura Shephard

“The announcement today from the U.S. President, Barack Obama, is that all new offshore concessions will no longer be granted in the U.S. there will be a complete ban. So that simply means that the old ones will continue and they will be reviewed as to the process and the safety issues. But the good news for us in the community of the NGO and especially Oceana Agency is that they had been opposing any new concession for some time. And so this is a welcomed news and we know that the president had said initially that he was going to institute a moratorium, he removed it, it was back and forth, but finally he was categorical today in his announcement and that is very good news. That means that the gulf in Mexico will no longer have new companies exploring. Neither will the Atlantic or the Pacific portion of the Ocean that is part of the US.

That is very welcoming news leading in to the first ever International Board Meeting of Oceana International that is being held in Belize. One of the highlight of the meeting is the public forum we are having. We are actually having a public presentation free of cost at the Bliss Institute nest week Wednesday. We are inviting everyone from the general public. And the topic there will be, ‘Learning from the U.S. Oil Disasters. Can this be us?’ We have two key presenters; one of them is Doctor Jeff Schwartz who has over twenty years experience studying oil disasters and well known actor Ted Danson known in Belize for his role in cheers and now Curb your Enthusiasm. However he is a very passionate, well educated, well enlightened advocate and he is a member of the Oceana board and he will be one of the speakers because he has been one fo those people that has been lobbying the U.S. Congress and whatever opportunity he gets, he speaks on this issue.”

As part of a series of activities marking Oceana’s Board of Directors first ever international meeting in Belize, Oceana in Belize will be presenting awards of honor to two outstanding Belizeans for their work in marine advocacy. The winners of the Ocean Hero Award and the Wavemaker Award will be announced on December eight. While in Belize, Oceana’s board will be meeting with the Prime Minister as well as the Leader of the Opposition John Briceno.

Channel 5