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#463908 - 05/09/13 10:56 AM Australia & Belize Work on Reef Management
Marty Offline

Australia And Belize Come Up With Best Practices For Reef Management

What do Australia and Belize have in common? Not much except for having the two of the largest reef systems in the world. And that’s why this week managers of both reef systems are teaming up in a 3 day workshop to share ideas and devise best practices. Dr. Paul Marshall, from Australia explained common challenges both reef systems face.

Dr. Paul Marshall - Change Program Manager, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
"Even though Australia and Belize are so far apart - our reefs share many of the same challenges. In Australia one of our biggest issues is pollution from the land, mostly fertilizers that are coming off farms and this actually can really undermine the ability of coral reefs to deal with other pressures like climate change. You have big challenges from coral bleaching which we also have. Coral reefs are much more susceptible to Coral bleaching if they are under stress from pollution. So understanding that there are linkages is very crucial because it helps us to identify things we can do as people who live along the coast and people who care about reefs. It's such a fascinating and important challenge for people to grapple with the vulnerability of these systems that seem so large and so permanent but they're not. Coral reefs are built by living organisms and they are very fragile and very vulnerable."

Hon. Lisel Alamilla
"What I am particularly interested is really learning from Australia about what policies they have put in place to ensure the integrity of their reef. They have been at it much longer than us in regards to development and having had some conversations with persons who have leadership role in managing the Australian Barrier Reef, I think there is a lot to be learned from them. It's time for us to improve at the policy level and the management of our barrier reef."

One policy they are looking at closely is called biodiversity offsets. That’s an idea something like carbon credits, to allow developers and regulators to design projects that deliver social and economic benefits while ensuring no overall loss of biodiversity. Marshall explained.

Dr. Paul Marshall
"Bio-diversity enables you to compensate through activities so that you have no net loss bio-diversity. So we're moving to a new world where loosing bio-diversity is not acceptable in any way. Bio-diversity offsets mechanisms for people who benefit from nature or who are damaging nature to offset that damage with a net result of no loss of bio diversity. All around the world people are just exploring this idea and nowhere is it fully applied yet in a marine setting. So the relationship between Belize and Australia is enabling us to explore this concept forming environments."

The value of reef and mangrove-related fisheries, tourism and shoreline protection services to Belize is estimated to be US$395-$559 million per year.

nd speaking of fisheries, we also asked the minister about that blacklisting put on Belize and 7 other countries by the European union. As we reported last night, Belize got on the list for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. We stress this has nothing to do with what happens on Belizean waters, but relates to high seas fishing from the international vessels that fly the Belizean flag, which they have purchased from IMMARBE.

The problem is that the blacklisting could be followed by trade sanctions first from the European Union and then possibly from other trading partners. We asked the minister about this very grim prospect – and what can be done to prevent a major disaster.

Jules Vasquez
"This dialogue has been going on for two years and apparently we just can't drag our feet anymore, we've been stalling them and stalling them. What will happen?"

Hon. Lisel Alamilla
"Well Jules we have a draft "Aquatic Living Act" which will address a lot of the issues in regards to the high seas and managing the fleets in high sea. I think cabinet will also need to make a decision how we will proceed to the high seas and whether it is something that we want to continue to participate in and because it is very costly to monitor these fleets. If we decide to continue with this then there needs to come with a major investment."

Jules Vasquez
"Doesn't that choice have to be made from IMMARBE and keeping Belize export industry going?"

Hon. Lisel Alamilla
"I think eventually it will come to that but we do have a contract with IMMARBE and that contract has to be reviewed very closely and balance that with the interest of Belize. As yet I am not aware that any bands are placed on us for trading with the EU but indeed that could be something that is imposed on us at a later date if we don't act swiftly."

Jules Vasquez
"So some action is necessary."

Hon. Lisel Alamilla
"Yes and we are working on it."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow went on record in 2011 to say that, quote, "we are prepared, and have been prepared for a while, to give up that ship's registry…in order to ensure the continued ability to export our aqua-culture products to Europe.”

Channel 7


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#463928 - 05/09/13 12:16 PM Re: Australia & Belize Work on Reef Management [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
IMMARBE is owned by Belize Bank's Michael Ashcroft, who, I hear, is entertaining offers to sell the bank.
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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