Once upon a time--and it was
not that long ago--Belize's sole
maritime protected area was a
tiny patch of sea surrounding
Half Moon Caye. Today it's a
different story, with nearly a
dozen marine reserves covering
large areas of the cayes, reefs,
and atolls. Yesterday News 5's Jacqueline Woods
was on hand for a major upgrade on one of our
northernmost protected areas.
Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve is
situated ten miles north of San Pedro Town. The
reserve, a World Heritage site, straddles the Belize
Barrier Reef and is right on the doorstep of Mexico. So
you can understand why it's in the best interest of
both countries to protect the biodiversity that exists
in the area. The monitoring is conducted under the
Meso-American Barrier Reef System Project, a regional
project that focuses on trans boundary protected
Noel Jacobs, Regional Director, M.B.R.S.
"From here mainly patrols ensuring the integrity of the
boundaries of the protected area, especially the
intrusion of visitors from Mexico, who may not know
that this is a reserve or they may know but perceive
that there is an absence in terms of enforcement and
decide to take their chances."
Mindful of that encroachment, authorities patrol the
area for illegal fishing and other illicit activities.
the site is an excellent location for students and other
visitors to learn more about our marine resources.
Despite becoming quite popular with tourists, there
was nothing in place to facilitate an organised visit to
the protected area...that is until Wednesday.
Minister of Fisheries, Servulo Baeza, and Minister of
the Environment, John Briceño, officially opened a
coastal resources multi-complex building that will also
function as a visitors centre.
"They will not just come to the protected area for the
protected area sakes, there is something organised
structured. There is a visitor's centre where they can
review materials, information on the protected area,
they can do the nature walk, they can do snorkelling.
There are a lot of things to do, Bacalar Chico offers a
In his address to the gathering, Minister of Fisheries
Servulo Baeza spoke about the recently formed
National Protected Areas Task Force and what this
group will do to further conserve Belize's natural
Servulo Baeza, Minister of Fisheries
"Today, Belize, like many developing nations, is faced
with the challenges of finding that balance between
conservation and utilisation. We are currently in the
process of developing a National Protected Areas
Policy and System Plan, which we hope will take very
seriously the social and economic realities into
consideration when approaching the whole issue of
Minister Briceño says it is important that all Belizeans
"Unfortunately, here in Belize we have a poverty rate
that's way too high for us. It's approximately over
thirty percent. This is unacceptable for us, but in the
region it gets even worse, we have even high rates of
poverty. And for these people, if they have no-I would
not say no regard because they do know and love and
appreciate nature and the beauty that we have, but
when they see a tree they know that they need to cut
it to try to sell it to make a few dollars to bring
on the table. We have to ensure that-show them ways
that they can benefit directly and economically; it's
Jacqueline Woods for News 5.
The building was constructed by Fabro Industries
at a cost of over two hundred and eighty-nine
thousand dollars. Funding for the project was
provided by the U.N.'s Global Environmental Facility
and the governments of Belize, Guatemala,
Honduras, and Mexico.