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#500151 - 01/21/15 04:05 AM OCEANA Warns About Reef
Marty Offline
Three delegates from the UNESCO World Heritage Center are in Belize to talk about the protection of the Belize Barrier Reef. The main objective is to get Belize's Barrier Reef off a 2009 list of endangered sites. There are multiple threats facing the Barrier Reef and OCEANA along with its UNESCO partners is trying to inform the public as well as the government about the detrimental effects the damage or erosion of the Barrier Reef will have on the country. They told us more today:..

Janelle Channona, Vice President OCEANA
"So in 2009, the government was informed that the Belize Barrier Reef system was being placed on this site's endanger list and the threats identified included sale and development within the immediate vicinity of the world heritage site. As you know 7 sites make up the world heritage site system in Belize. They extend from Bachalar Chico in the north all the way down to southern waters. So, we have 7 sites, but in reality they comprises the entire Belize Barrier Reef system and that's how its shows up on the map; it's the Belize Barrier Reef System. So they treat it as the entirety of the system. They identified that sale of lands and development projects within the world heritage site system was considered a threat. They identified oil concessions, meaning oil related activity, was a serious threat. They talked about species, lionfish, even coconut trees. The situation that we are going into this week as I understand it is that government will be identifying concrete steps forward to deal with these threats and to prove that we are serious about protecting the status and this is how we are going to get there and this is the timeline we are going to get there in and this is the message that we are going to send to the world that, we acknowledge that this is a universally important title and we are serious about maintaining our world heritage site status."

Alyssa Carnegie, Communications Director, OCEANA
"Part of that includes advocating and working with the team and the Oceana office as well our partners and stakeholders, non-governmental as well as governmental in terms our campaigns. One of that is offshore oil, the other is in terms of increasing juvenile fish, as well as banning gill nets. It's a discussion and we are trying to stimulate the conversation, making sure that the information is out there. It's something that does so much for us, like I mention, that we have to be clear as to exactly what are the pros, what are the cons, what are we putting at risks."

Channel 7

Petroleum Department’s proposed policy on offshore oil weak on data, details, potential damage.

In response to a document circulated to the NGO community on Monday, January 19th as the draft Petroleum Exploration Zones and Exploration Guidelines, Oceana Belize maintains that before any steps are taken to allow offshore exploration, the Government of Belize must ensure that tourism and fishing related jobs are protected; that an effective emergency response capacity is in place; that special places are safe from hazards and that it has provided a full, fair and public accounting, including the inherent risks involved with the oil industry, to the Belizean people.

It is also noteworthy that this document was shared during the opening sessions of a delegation from the World Heritage Centre to determine the Desired State of Conservation of the World Heritage Site that is the Belize Barrier Reef. The Belize reef is one of only 47 such natural marine sites in the entire world. For the last five years, the World Heritage Centre has listed oil as a direct threat to this universally important designation.

Janelle Chanona, Oceana’s Vice President, Belize, issued the following statement about the significance of the Belize Barrier Reef System:

“The Belize Barrier Reef system provides hundreds of millions of dollars in direct and guaranteed economic benefits via tourism, fishing and storm surge protection. Those hundreds of millions of dollars cannot be dismissed in favor of the mere “potential” of anything else–especially something as dangerous and dirty as offshore oil.

History from around the globe has taught us that every country that has attempted to merge tourism, the sustainable development of the environment, fishing and offshore oil has met with disaster. How can we begin to think of compromising the country’s most important industry when one in every four Belizeans depends directly on tourism? There are approximately three thousand licensed fishermen accessing Belizean waters. When the spill happens, who will those people turn to in order to live? Why are we rushing to risk the known benefits for the mere potential of the unknown—and one that will undoubtedly include destructive spills and negatively impact national economics, cultural identity and quality of life?

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that Belizean jobs in tourism and fishing will never be compromised; that the guaranteed economic benefits of the protection the reef gives us every year from tropical storms and hurricanes is preserved; that our beautiful horizons will never be scarred by oil rigs; that our crystal clear water will never run black with oil. The situation we confront today is as simple and dire as just that. That this draft policy seeks to initiate “consultation” by declaring open season on Belize’s entire offshore area relying on antiquated data, unreferenced national numbers and vague international standards is unacceptable.”

#500163 - 01/21/15 05:45 AM Re: OCEANA Warns About Reef [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Belize does not deserve UNESCO status.
Belize based travel specialist

#500286 - 01/24/15 03:52 AM Re: OCEANA Warns About Reef [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

UNESCO Weighs In On Petroleum Concessions

Today at the Fisheries Department in Belize City, representatives from the UNESCO World Heritage Center met with government agencies and NGO's such as OCEANA and The Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage.

The meeting is the background to what we have been reporting all this week: on the NGO's discontent about the Draft Petroleum Exploration and Exploration Guidelines and the possible threats it poses to the Barrier Reef System - which has already been inscribed on a World Heritage Endangered Site List.

Well, the delegates from the World Heritage Center are here to try and remove Belize from that list. Head of the Marine Program from the World Heritage Center Dr. Fanny Douvere discussed how they along with the government and stakeholders can accomplish this goal.

Dr. Fanny Douvere, Head of Marine Program, UNESCO WHC
"Our primary purpose is to work together with the government and set a number of clear targets that would need to be achieved in order to get the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System back off the danger list. So there are a couple of critical issues. One is also related to the sales and the leases of the lands within the property and especially the cutting of the mangroves. Mangroves are critically important for the eco-system, so it's important that those are protected, so that the integrity of the property can be maintained across all the seven components basically that make up the world heritage status. We are working very constructively with the various departments within the government. We are working together in order to try to understand the bottlenecks, but also to have a roadmap to move forward."

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator
"I think that we should consider what their concerns are and the idea is at the end of the day, is to have something that is balance, something that has taken into consideration, the concerns from the world heritage mission with regards to world heritage site, but to also look at government's prioritization in terms of potential for national development, which is not something that we can ignore. I think that the debate will only enrich that process. From the commencement of this mission, we have stated very clearly that the mission is really meant to be a constructive mission, so that we could have a roadmap at the end of this mission, that we could safely say, we have consulted stakeholders from the people who are using the resources, all the way to the top in terms of the policy makers and the decision makers to come together to have an understanding of where they are going and what their issues are, because remember, one of the primary objectives of this mission also, is to look at the long term sustainable development of the property, which is the world heritage site."

The WHC team along with their Belizean partners are working on a Desired State of Conservation Report which will have to be endorsed by the government and then submitted to the World Heritage Center committee for review in June. Based on the report and an assessment of Belize's attempts at preserving it's critical ecosystems - the committee will then consider removing Belize's Barrier Reef System from the sites endangered list.

GOB Says UNESCO Sites Aren't Under Oil Concessions

And to try and quell some of the anger that has come from the NGO Community after that widely condemned draft guidelines package was released - the Ministry of Petroleum sent out its second release for the week. The last one was still picking fights with the NGO's - but today's release was cellar and almost contrite. It says, quote, "the Government of Belize continues to maintain a moratorium on the issuance of any new offshore petroleum exploration concessions." It adds that quote, "none of World Heritage Site properties are currently under any oil concessions." It continues to say that in 2013, the Ministry successfully negotiated with Princess Petroleum to relinquish 25% of their concession block to ensure that, quote, "the Blue Hole and other areas of Lighthouse Reef Atoll are no longer part of their active concession."

The release adds that in 2009, when the Belize Barrier Reef System was placed on the List of World Heritage Site in Danger, nine offshore concessions existed and now, Princess Petroleum remains the only company with a large offshore concession.

Still, it's not quite enough for the NGO community, which wants the existing oil concessions offshore not to be renewed or extended.

Channel 7

#500290 - 01/24/15 04:05 AM Re: OCEANA Warns About Reef [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Puerto Azul complex on Lighthouse Reef has gotten approval from udp
Belize based travel specialist


Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!

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