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Weather
Yesterday at 06:56 PM
Flood Report and Forecast for May 27, 2022

River Conditions

REGION 7 - On the RIO HONDO at Blue Creek North, and downstream at Santa Cruz San Antonio, San Roman, and Douglas, all levels are above normal and decreasing. The NEW RIVER at Tower Hill remains below normal; and at Caledonia, levels are above normal and decreasing.

REGION 9 - On the MACAL RIVER, reservoir levels at all BECOL facilities remain below the spillways; and at San Ignacio, levels remain below the low-level bridge.

The MOPAN RIVER at Benque Viejo Town is near normal and steady.

On the BELIZE RIVER at Double Run, levels are near normal and decreasing; lagoon levels on the CROOKED TREE LAGOON are below the causeway and steady.

REGION 11 - On the SIBUN RIVER at Freetown Sibun, levels are above normal and steady. The SOUTHERN LAGOON at Gales Point Village is above normal and falling.

In watersheds on the EASTERN SLOPES OF THE MAYAN MOUNTAINS, and the SITTEE RIVER at Kendal Bridge, levels are above normal and steady.

On the Swasey and Bladen branches of the MONKEY RIVER, levels are normal and decreasing. On the RIO GRANDE at San Pedro Columbia, levels are below normal and steady; and Big Falls South, above normal levels exist. The DEEP RIVER at Medina Bank is near normal.

On the MOHO RIVER at Blue Creek South and Jordan, levels are above normal. On the TEMASH RIVER at Crique Sarco, below normal and steady levels continue.

REGION 13 - The SARSTOON RIVER is normal and steady.

FLOOD FORECAST

REGION 7 - On the RIO HONDO at Blue Creek North, and downstream at Santa Cruz, San Antonio, San Roman, and Douglas to the coast, levels expected to increase minimally. On the NEW RIVER, at Tower Hill, near normal levels expected; and at Caledonia, above normal levels expected to continue.

REGION 9 - On the MACAL RIVER, at all BECOL facilities, reservoir levels are expected to increase; and at San Ignacio, levels are expected to increase but remain below the low-level bridge.

On the MOPAN RIVER at Benque Viejo Town, above normal levels expected. On the BELIZE RIVER at Double Run, levels are expected to increase to above normal levels. On the CROOKED TREE LAGOON, levels are expected to increase but remain below the causeway.

REGION 11 - On the SIBUN RIVER at Freetown Sibun, above normal levels expected to continue. The SOUTHERN LAGOON near Gales Point Village, is expected to remain at above normal levels.

In watersheds on the EASTERN SLOPES OF THE MAYAN MOUNTAINS, and on the SITTEE RIVER at Kendal Bridge, above normal levels are expected to increase.

On the Swasey and Bladen branches of the MONKEY RIVER, above normal levels expected; On the RIO GRANDE at San Pedro Columbia and Big Falls South, above normal levels expected. The DEEP RIVER at Medina Bank, is expected to increase to above normal levels.

On the MOHO RIVER at Blue Creek South and Jordan, and on the TEMASH RIVER at Crique Sarco, levels are expected to increase to near flood stage levels.

REGION 13 - On the SARSTOON RIVER, above normal levels expected.

The next Flood Report and Forecast will be issued as necessary
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News
Yesterday at 04:56 PM
To be honest, I am happy that the government will adopt this statutory instrument.
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Specials & Events
Yesterday at 04:32 PM
Introducing our NATS 2022 Layout Directory App in collaboration with Total Business Solutions Ltd (TBSL)

https://bit.ly/NATS2022LayoutDirectory

In addition to the access to grounds layout, each participating business or organization can connect and update their contact information to help people connect with them.

[Linked Image]
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Food, Drinks & Recipes
Yesterday at 04:31 PM

The oldest taco maker in Belize has been making and selling tacos for the last 50 years.
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News
Yesterday at 04:29 PM

Garifuna Culture in Belize | SI Swimsuit 2022
Sisters Uwahnie Martinez and Guadalupe Polilloavila work to preserve the Garafina culture by living it. The Garifuna heritage dates back to the 17th century. The sisters grow their own food and create meals inspired by the traditional meals that sustained their ancestors. “Much of our culture is fading as we speak,” explains Martines. “Hence the reason we take on the initiative of preserving it. The idea is to have summer camps and other teaching opportunities and learning opportunities, for both locals and guests visiting Belize.”
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Ambergris Caye
Yesterday at 04:24 PM
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No plan from local task force disclosed yet

The above-average windy days have brought a significant amount of sargassum to the windward coast of San Pedro Town. The sanitation department of the San Pedro Town Council and hoteliers have been working hard to remove the brown seaweed, which keeps beaching in large amounts. To address the situation, the national Sargassum Task Force (STF) has been active, and on May 11th, a local branch of the STF was formed in San Pedro. The unit was tasked with developing a plan to tackle the problem, but no such plan has been shared with the community to date.

The increase in the influx of the algae has been choking the country’s coastal regions. With the continuous windy days, the beaches on Ambergris Caye are badly affected. The SPTC sanitation crew members have been hard at work, and even with additional crew, the sargassum wave appears to be overwhelming. One of the tactics to counter the seaweed is to form barriers made from the same sargassum along the shore. The cleaning crew removes the dry seaweed while the fresh part serves as a buffer for the incoming mats. This method is done during windy days when the influx is more significant. According to some workers on the beach, they can scoop the sargassum once the wind drops.

Hoteliers, however, need their beaches clean. Their staff is forking and trucking heaps of the invasive algae daily. According to cleaners working at these hotels, the beach is again covered with sargassum in hours. It’s an endless job, or the island’s tourism product will not be attractive. Keeping the island beaches clean is becoming a dilemma that can damage the upcoming festivities and tourism if not adequately addressed. Over the past weeks, some stakeholders have reported cancellations because of the sargassum situation affecting the country and island.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

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Specials & Events
Yesterday at 04:19 PM
Deputy Mayor Adaly Ayuso with the portfolio of Events along with the Miss San Pedro Committee and the San Pedro Town Council proudly presents the delegates for the Miss San Pedro Pageant 2022: Ms. Nayobie Rivero, Ms. Cynthia Valentine, Ms. Faith Edgar and Ms. Crystel Guerra.

The Miss San Pedro Pageant 2022 and after-party with international DJ Osocity along with local djs such as DJ Dalla, Cloud 9 and DJ Shyfta will be hosted on 24th of June as part of the Dia De San Pedro Festival at the Saca Chispas Field starting @ 7pm.

Tickets are available for sale at the San Pedro Town Council cashier. You can also purchase tickets with Deputy Mayor Adaly Ayuso and Councillor Ernesto Bardalez.

Online Option: https://sanpedrotowncouncil.org/dia-de-san-pedro-festival

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Nature
Yesterday at 04:16 PM
Great article in Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Spring Journal about the Blue Economy in Belize - and the projects at Cayo Rosario and Caye Chapel - if you are interested in the direction of tourism in Belize and the importance of the environment or the flyfishing industry in Belize.

The article is also about Omar Arceo, Alexander Gomez, John Turley, David Mitchell, and more...

One quote: That Rosario is located in the middle of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a big bonus to Turley - "We were grandfathered in, he says, it's like being able to build a resort in the middle of a national forest in the US"

https://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/bonefish-tarpon-journal-spring-2022/
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Nature
Yesterday at 04:01 PM
Is this data available? Is a high resolution version of the first map available?
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Sports
Yesterday at 12:28 PM
Football madness is back and this time it’s with our senior men (over 35) and youth teams: U17 and U20. The season kicks off this Sunday with 3 hot matches. Come out and enjoy a family Sunday.

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Nature
Yesterday at 12:25 PM
Congratulations to our Fisheries Department team for this great work with the shark fishers who are now assisting with research.

A collaboration between Belize Fisheries Department, the Belizean shark fishing community and researchers at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Florida International University and Georgia Aquarium seeks to understand how tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) are using the waters of Belize and use this information to better manage them.

Tiger sharks are key predators in marine ecosystems, very much like jaguars in our rain forests. They are one of the species that gets caught in the Belizean shark fishery and they are quite valuable because they are very large, up to 18 feet in length. However, very little is known about their ecology and biology in this region. To fill this knowledge gap, the team is deploying satellite tags on tiger sharks in Belize. To date eight tiger sharks have been fitted with these tags in Belize waters. The tags relay a position for the animal every time the tagged fin breaks the surface of the water. Some tigers have traveled long distances from their tagged positions, making movements into the waters of other nations like Mexico, Cuba, and Honduras (see Individual and some tigers have stayed in Belize (see Individual 10). Understanding these movements will help the Department work with other governments to assess the status of tiger sharks and proceed with management measures to ensure fishing is sustainable.

We want to thank our partners in the fishing industry including Hector Martinez, Omar Faux, Edgar Wagner, Raydi Wagner, Neri Monzon, Alberto Faux, Estevan Faux and Roy Castellenos and many others for making this new project a success.

Belize 8



Belize 10



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Tiger Shark Tagging

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Caye Caulker
Yesterday at 12:14 PM
For your convenience

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Ambergris Caye
Yesterday at 12:13 PM
Ambergris Caye is the place with the highest amount of visitors AND the most expensive spot, generally, in Belize. Can you live here for $1000US a month? Not if you are including your housing. But if you bought a small apartment already and you are just one person and have very low monthly HOA fees – and you are careful with electricity and ride a bicycle only and eat local foods. Probably. But it’s gonna be tight.

For $1000US a month, you are going to want to look at smaller villages and more remote areas – like Punta Gorda in the south. Or Benque in the west. Or look at Corozal in the north (though that might be tight). And your rented home might be a bit more rustic than you are accustomed to.

If you are going to live on Ambergris Caye – it is going to cost you more. Here is an estimate of prices on the island – based on my 8 years of renting condos on the island and my 15 years in total living here full time.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Scoop
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Travel
Yesterday at 12:08 PM

BTIA’sTourism Summit – Reimagining Belizean Tourism

The Belize Tourism Industry Association, B.T.I.A., held a Summit today that drew members from far and wide to hear about efforts to improve formal training for those in tourism, and how stakeholders should prepare their businesses for the future. The event, which bore the theme, ‘Reimagining Belizean Tourism’, took place this morning at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. Marion Ali was there and filed this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

The opening ceremony for the event established a setting of planning, preparation, and reflection on the brutal impacts of COVID on the industry. B.T.I.A. President, Stewart Krohn expressed regret that not enough people heeded the advice to take their COVID vaccines and the fact that the pandemic claimed so many people, both from the industry, as well as from other sectors. Krohn also urged everyone to look beyond just the horizon.

Stewart Krohn, President, B.T.I.A.

“Try and think where we’re going as an industry, as a nation, as a people. We have a lot to offer to our country and it’s going to require some – I would say, yes, we all know it requires hard work, but it’s not hard work alone that is going to make us succeed. It’s hard work, but sometimes we have to think, okay, we have to think beyond what’s for lunch today.”

Former Bahamian Tourism Minister, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who was today’s guest speaker, advised that key elements are needed in order to make the tourism product wholesome.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Keynote Speaker, B.T.I.A., Summit

“What are we really talking about in terms of measures of success? What are we talking about? When we start talking about that – it’s very important, visitor nights, which translates into occupancy. If you have this facility that you have built with a hundred rooms, but every night you’re only filling forty rooms, but you keep talking about getting new investors, you’ve got a new investor right here with sixty rooms vacant. So try and figure out ways to begin to expand the occupancy and expand the visitor night, which is very important. The second part of it is the visitor experience. There is no substitute for it; none whatsoever. People walking away saying they’re going to recommend you and they are going to come back because of the wonderful experience – there’s no substitute for that.”

An integral part of the preparation for today’s event included collaboration with the University of Belize, whose Interim President, Dr. Vincent Palacio, shared that the university’s new effort to streamline its tourism course is a serious attempt to produce better quality tourism students.

Dr. Vincent Palacio, Interim President, U.B.

“We are currently reviewing the National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan and we are in conversation in establishing a National Tourism Training Institute. You told us that our tourism graduates had too much management skills and not enough hospitality skills. What we did, we went back and developed a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. We incorporated a class called communication skills in the curriculum for every tourism student. And you said they don’t write too well. The Bachelor’s level students have to take a technical Writing course. Come August, every student who enrolls into the University of Belize, not just our tourism student, will have to take a class called Critical Thinking.”

One of the upgrades that U.B. has taken to better prepare its tourism course is to make the course more available at all its sites across the country, as well as online for ease of access to people already employed.

Channel 5

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Specials & Events
Yesterday at 12:00 PM

Ministry of Blue Economy Meets with San Pedro Fishing Community

On Wednesday, the Ministry of the Blue Economy held a public meeting with fishermen in San Pedro Town to discuss the amendment to the fisheries regulation for a four point five ounce lobster tail weight. The meeting was held at the San Pedro Lion’s Den. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting

Minister of the Blue Economy Andre Perez along with C.E.O. Kennedy Carrillo, and the Fisheries Department met with a group of fishermen, who do not accept the proposed regulation. It was a heated discussion involving veteran fishermen sharing their experiences in the fishing industry.

San Pedro Fisherman

“We got we family. Twenty-one fools can’t judge over so much fisherman yah dah San Pedro. Unu di do lone fool mien. We need patrols, we noh need no more laws. We need people weh competent, weh love dehn Belizeans. We noh need no bunch ah fools weh love the white man.”

Philip ‘Billy’ Leslie, Former Fisherman

“Fishing is not going down because of the fisherman. Fishing is going down because we are not protecting the same thing that is needed to grow them – our mangroves.”

The fishermen expressed to the members of the head table that the amendment to increase the lobster tails for sustainable purposes is unnecessary as they have been fishing for decades, using the same practices, and lobsters are still in large numbers out at sea.

Alfredo Rubio, San Pedro Fisherman

“We do not accept this four point five ounces on the lobster tails this is something that we will never accept as a fisherman.”

Others shared that there was a lack of consultation, claiming that when the new law is enforce their livelihoods will be jeopardize. Activist Oscar Iboy is a tour guide by trade, but came out in support of the fishermen.

Oscar Iboy, Activist, San Pedro Town

“They woulda neva had this issue if they would have consult with people with what the laws they are passing because you can’t just pass a law and done. For example, the one with the hook stick. That is something that’s been used – how the fishermen end up di acquire that tool to catch these lobsters because there is a skill to it. I have seen the anger in the people because they needed the consultation to weh di things weh dehn di pass through. They done the pass laws about the size and this thing and it will kill the fisherman livelihood.”

Despite the expression of discontent by the fishers, the Ministry of Blue Economy has been facing them, willing to provide alternatives and other ways to balance off the loss.  And at the end of the meeting, Minister Perez said the regulation will be deferred for a year and consultations will take place.

Andre Perez, Minister of Blue Economy

“We did agree that maybe another year to delay, to defer it – not to amend, but defer. But we must implement sooner than later. By that I mean we cannot be sitting down to say if not now then when; we have to set a date. And I think that monitoring it closely, this year we have to defer and the next year that comes in we want to implement and working closely with the fisher-folks – not only here in San Pedro, Caye Caulker Sarteneja, but down south as well – closely monitoring that the lobster is going to be four and a half ounces and then see how the production.”

Some fishermen stated that they will continue to fight against the regulations. Duane Moody for News Five.

The ministry is asking each fishing community to identify three persons who will

form part of a community advisory group with whom they will be able to consult continuously. This will also provide the fishers to access the ministry about their concerns and suggestions.


Channel 5



SP fishers not happy with new fisheries regulation; Area Rep meets with island fisher-folks

There was a heated discussion at the San Pedro Lions Den on Wednesday, May 25th, as fishers attended a public meeting with representatives from the Fisheries Department and the Ministry of the Blue Economy. The island fishermen claim their livelihood could be jeopardized by the recent amendment prohibiting fishers from trapping lobsters with a tail weight of less than 4.5 ounces, replacing the currently approved threshold of four ounces. The discussions, which have been taking place in other fishing communities in the country, ended up with the ministry agreeing to delay the new policy for one year to continue engaging the fisher-folks. Regardless, the San Pedro fishermen at the meeting said they reject the legislation and will continue rallying against it.

The Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of the Blue Economy, Kennedy Carillo, briefly welcomed those in attendance at the public meeting that started just after 6PM. The Area Representative and head of the said ministry, Hon. Andre Perez invited the fishers to be part of the discussion and committed to compromise to move forward. Questions and suggestions followed a short presentation from Acting Administrator at the Fisheries Department, Rigoberto Quintana. His presentation included the fact that in 2009 Belize signed a binding agreement with the Organization of Fisheries and Agriculture in Central America (OSPESCA) to change the required sizes for lobsters and increase the gaps in the traps.

One of the most respected fishermen on the island, 78-year-old Wilfredo Alamilla Sr., shared his life experience as a fisherman for over 60 years. He pressed on the importance of engaging the fishing communities in decisions that will affect their livelihood. Alamilla pointed out that if the new regulation is to ensure sustainability, the current practices have been in place for decades, proof of sustainable fishing. Alamilla added that fishers are not the problem, but the lack of enforcement as other people who pretend to be fishermen are breaking the law. The proposed requirement of lobster tails weighing 4.5 ounces is considered a complicated matter that could dent the fishing folks.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

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Specials & Events
Yesterday at 11:57 AM

Export Competitiveness Forum Held in Belize City

The first Export Competitive Forum since the onset of the pandemic saw large and small exporters converge in Belize City.  A host of topics were presented, including keys to remain competitive regionally and globally. Belize’s national competitive performance was reviewed and a presentation was done on the export competitiveness roadmap that is in its final stages. The forum emphasized the critical role of the public and private sector collaboration in maintaining export competitiveness. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Increasing business competiveness is essential to growing Belize’s export market. Ninety percent of Belize’s exports consist of livestock and food. To become more competitive the local export market must become more diverse and innovative. The Commonwealth Secretariat has been providing technical assistance in this area to Belize.

Azuka Ogundejia, Commonwealth Secretariat.

“From the surveys we have done. We have sent hat is something right. I do believe that an average Belizean company wants to do better. But again to be innovative also requires some finance. People think I would like to do that but I don’t have the money so I just need to stay where I am. But innovation is critical and I believe it is also the next level to moving forward for any company and all. I mean if you listen to Nikkita, they talked about it in his presentation, they had to innovate. They were only doing citrus, but they realize we can’t sit here. What can we do better? How else can we present? It might be the same product, but how can we present it in a different way?”

As an example of innovation, Nikkita Usher at Citrus Products of Belize Limited shared how a sharp decline in citrus production led to innovation in their company.

Nikkita Usher, Citrus Products of Belize Ltd.

“We hear about the pandemic in 2019, 2020, but the citrus industry faced a pandemic long before 2019. The citrus industry faced the pandemic called a reduction in production. A reduction in production caused substantial effect on a plant that was built or designed to ten million boxes of fruits. Today, we are at two million boxes caused by a disease. That is a pandemic worst than COVID for us. So, we must now find way to diversify even more. Hence the reason we have taken one of those beautiful plants that have a number of stainless steel equipment and converted it into a tropical producing plant. So today we are now pushing soursop as a product, pineapple as a product and coconut is to come later this year.”

But apart from diversification, CARICOM member states are faced with a number of trade barriers that stagnates growth across the region.

Dr. Osmond Martinez, C.E.O.,  Ministry of Economic Development

“The challenges to trade among the Caribbean is unacceptable. There are other factors as well. One of them is the logistics to trade within the Caribbean. So, it is almost impossible to trade from Belize directly ot the Caribbean. It has to go through Miami and then Miami to the Caribbean. That is one problem. Then two, there is also a limitation in terms of communication by air. Even if you want to be in two different countries in the Caribbean, say for example you want to go to Turks and Cacaos you will have to go Belize to Miami, Miami to Turks and Cacaos. But, if you want to spend the following week in Barbados, you will have to go Turks and Cacaos to Miami and then from Miami to Barbados. So, even among the Caribbean countries we can see there are limitations in terms of logistics.”

Improving trade networks within the region is a critical component to export competitiveness within the region, says C.E.O. Martinez. Lisa Callender, a consultant for the Commonwealth secretariat and Beltraide, is working closely with Belizean exporters to develop a roadmap for export competitiveness.

Lisa Callender, Consultant

“I am in Jamaica and there is the same conversation going on in Jamaica. The reality is that most companies are relatively small compared to the global market. Our company size even the larger companies are quite small in terms of global competition. So the CARICOM single market and economy is very critical to getting companies to have a space where they can grow. Most markets are fairly small and fragmented because the purchasing power of a lot of the population is not great. So, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy needs to be on the agenda for everyone. It is a question of rationalizing and harmonizing policy space. And even though we are similar, we come from different histories and back grounds. So that harmonization has to be operational zed very quickly and it is already been too long. We are also in Jamaica quite frustrated about it.”

A first draft of the export competitiveness road map was reviewed at today’s forum. From today a concrete action plan will be put forward. Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez.


Channel 5

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News
Yesterday at 11:53 AM
At the end of this month, one hundred and twenty thousand doses of Pfizer vaccine expires. This is because residents have not been coming out to get their jabs – be that the initial dose, their second jab or even the booster. It is a great loss, in the millions of dollars, because it cost the Government of Belize to acquire the vaccine, which serves as a layer of protection against the deadly COVID-19 virus. But today, Doctor Natalia Largaespada Beer told the media that despite the loss, G.O.B. is procuring a new batch of vaccines to continue with its vaccination of the adult population.

Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer, Maternal & Child Health Technical Advisor, M.O.H.W.


“The government of Belize has secured more than a hundred percent of the vaccines required to vaccinate the eligible population for COVID-19 vaccine in Belize. That is applaudable and now we are seeking to procure more vaccines. As you all know, we will have a terrible loss at the end of May this year, but we are already seeking how to get more vaccines and we are hoping that in a month’s time, we should have restocked Pfizer vaccine to continue with the revaccination or completing schemes or booster doses.”

Channel 5
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Nature
Yesterday at 11:31 AM

The Sargassum Plague

And another after-effect of climate change - and of harmful human activities - is sargassum. We've shown you what the beaches in San Pedro and Hopkins look like, but the problem is also present on the beaches of St George's Caye, Caye Caulker, and Placencia.

And as you know - sargassum stinks and is unsightly. But according to Oceana's VP, it also worsens the erosion of the beaches, and is bad for human health:

Janelle Chanona - Vice President, Oceana/Moderator
"But again, it's one more indicator that we are changing the natural environments, we always used to get sargassum but never at these levels so you look at what's changed. Well, the sea has gotten warmers, there's more stuff in it, there's more nutrients, there's more fertiliser, there's raw septic, there's a lot more things in it and it's creating the perfect environment conducive to this massive sargassum bloom so again it's really about looking at, well, if we don't like this much sargassum and if we hate what it's doing to our tourism product, then what can we be changing to make sure that what's coming out of the rivers, what they need to be instead of what they are now, and what are the things that we can do to help to mitigate to make sure that the environment isn't there. Sargassum also compounds the erosion that we're seeing along our beaches because when we're trying to remove it, we're taking out sand and that's compounding it, so that's one thing and yes, because there's so much organic matter within the sargassum that's floating in and all the plastic, I'm sure you've seen all the bits and pieces as well as the pieces of plastic in there, we can't treat it as a non-organic and that's actually creating, I think we've documented, some level of toxicity, it's caused impacts to marine species like turtles but I think we have also seen where residents along these more effected communities report not just their jewellery changing colour or their electronics being damaged, their computers, their TVs but also they're feeling that respiratory impact."

Chanona notes that while there is a Sargassum Taskforce, this issue is a conversation that needs to remain at the forefront.


Channel 7

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Travel
Yesterday at 11:30 AM

Erosion of our beaches, sargassum swarms, storm surges - these are all effects of climate change that take value from Belize's rebounding tourism industry. And that's why the leading stakeholders are trying to move away from traditional tourism and chart a path for sustainable and resilient tourism.

BTIA gathered these stakeholders today for a summit that seeks to reimagine tourism in Belize under a new marketing model aimed at protecting the country's resources.

Courtney Menzies was there today and she has the highlights of the morning session:

Though tourism is Belize's largest income earner, it is also one of its most fragile sectors and with climate change like an omnipresent and ominous cloud, the BTIA held its "Reimagining Belize Tourism" summit.

This summit tackled environmental concerns currently affecting tourism and ways that Belize can rebrand as a resilient tourist destination.

Linette Canto - Executive Director, BTIA
"We're looking at a variety of issues, we're looking at climate change which has certainly impacted the tourism industry greatly, we're looking at cruise ports, that is certainly an issue that has been debated in the Belizean society for a while now, we're looking at how do we market our tourism product. We know that there are a lot of countries fighting for a slice of the same pie so how do we market ourselves to be different to stand out. We're looking at the end of the summit, everyone is going to be coming together and the final panel will be looking at everything that was shared today and coming up with a strategic direction as to the way forward with the industry."

The first panel discussed whether beach tourism is actually an ‘endangered species.' Most of Belize's current marketing focus on white sands, blue waters, and incredible marine life, but those attractions are threatened by erosion, warmer waters, coral bleaching and plenty of other effects of climate change.

And according to the panels' moderator, the answer to that topic is not something you'd want to hear.

Janelle Chanona - Vice President, Oceana/Moderator
"Our illustrious panel had to concede, yes. And that's a hard thing to think about because if you think about how much of our development both in tourism and otherwise, our homes, are actually on our coastlines and we think about all our developments at cayes, it's really hard to think about that but that's why summit like this one that BTIA has organized are really helpful in making sure that awareness, that data, and that call to collective action is live and present because like you heard inside, it's really that we're running out of time, we know what we have to get done, but we have to make it happen. We're really talking about diversification both in terms of our branding, in terms of our development, the way we're developing, and perspective, so it's that we need to not be focusing so much on maybe the white sand tourism, the beach tourism, and really pushing that mangroves are awesome, seagrass is sensational, and really making sure that that's the kind of draw we're bringing and I think one presenter mentioned looping in guests that are coming to Belize to say, here's how you can participate, here's how you can help us to restore this eco-systems."

And the second set of panelists delved into cruise tourism and the two proposed cruise ports - Port of Magical Belize in the south and Waterloo's Port of Belize in Southside Belize City. Both representatives made their arguments for why their port should be the one to follow Port Coral on Stake Bank - but how many ports is too much?

Amanda Acosta - Executive Director, BAS/Moderator
"I think for us, there is a concern that there is a varying capacity within the country, Belize has limited resources, limited infrastructure, limited capacity of holding all of that and so naturally that is a question that has to be posed. We talk about viability from an economic point of view which a developer can argue, but we also have to talk about viability in terms of resources. The three ports together would probably be able to hold a capacity of over 10-12 ships, which is a very large number. We do not have the infrastructure to support that. The case of the Port of Belize Waterloo Gateway Commerce and Culture Project, you're looking at it being combined with the port expansion. Because it is being packaged together, the economics that they're discussing is a duality so it's both products in one. I would say the Port of Belize and the work that has to happen there has its own merits and it's a separate conversation and the cruise is another one. Magical Belize has far more complications in that they are talking about a port off of Sibun. It is in essence a very isolated location, all the infrastructure that would need to go in to support that venture is significant, not only in an investment but from an environmental point of view. There is an assessment and impacts that need to be explored far deeper that I think the Environment Impact Assessment went."

And that is just a snapshot of the types of discussions that were had between the panelists and the stakeholders present at the summit. But according to Canto, it doesn't end there:

Linette Canto
"We're hoping that at the end of the day, our participants will leave here feeling motivated and enlightened, feeling that they gained some knowledge that maybe they didn't have before but also one of the main things that will come out of this is that we're putting together a summit document. That document is going to be shared with our key tourism stakeholders, the general public, academia, and it will have a lot of insights, a lot of the suggestions that were shared, a lot of the issues that will be addressed and we're hoping that as the University of Belize revises the national sustainable tourism master plan that some of these ideas and suggestions will be a part of this discussion."

Channel 7

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Toledo
Yesterday at 11:29 AM
Cabinet has agreed to pursue a loan motion from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration $24 million US dollars to finance the upgrading and rehabilitation of 16 miles of the Philip Goldson Highway, from mile 8 1/2 to 24 1/2. A release says, "The rehabilitation of this 16-mile section of the Philip Goldson Highway is expected to reduce transportation costs and accident rates, increase access to services, increase employment opportunities and improve climate resilience."

But then we noticed that right after the PUP was elected it had payed Rodla Construction 1.13 million to resurface two miles of that same stretch of road. So will that now be paved over? And that investment of public funds counted as a loss?

That's what we asked the Minister of Infrastructure Julius Espat vita text and he said, quote, "Of course that was contemplated and the design addresses that." end quote. He says that two miles of hot mix surface will be retained.

Channel 7
0 30 Read More
Laws & Taxes
Yesterday at 11:28 AM

Social media erupted late last week when news of the 2022 trade license and its associated entertainment fees came to public attention.

Since then artists and entertainers have made their opinions known and some of those entertainers took their complaints all the way to a House Committee meeting to explain why the proposed tax wasn't something that their fledgling industry could afford.

And this morning those artists learned that their voices had been heard. A Cabinet brief released today May 26th 2022 announced the decision saying quote: "Noting the fragile state of the entertainment industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cabinet agreed to defer any fee for local entertainers while consultations continue with stakeholders in the entertainment industry. In addition, Cabinet will consult to develop incentives for the creative sector."

Those words sounded like a victory for the artists, entertainers, and industry stakeholders who'd made their voices heard, among them Musa Shaheed a young creole drummer known for being outspoken and opinionated.

This afternoon 7News headed to his Belize City studio to get his opinion on the government's choice to stand down from taxation on his sector:

You saw him on Jules Vasquez UNCUT last week where he told us about sacrificing revenue to be true to his own musical culture

Jules Vasquez
"I want to ask something important because of of you are in sort of a cultural trap. You're in a culture that there is an active erasure of the Creole culture in Belize."


Musa Abdul Shaheed - Artist
"That's why I can't quite."

Jules Vasquez
"Exactly, you're keeping the fire burning because they are trying to put out the fire."


Musa Abdul Shaheed
"For me, I would rather prefer if I was Garifuna right now, you want to know why? Because this hurts my personal gain, I sacrifice..."

Jules Vasquez
"It hurts it by..."


Musa Abdul Shaheed
"Representing Creole culture that is dying."


Jules Vasquez
"It's dying because people are trying to erase it."

And you saw him again at Monday's house committee meeting when he insisted that G.O.B. can't tax an industry that doesn't exist.

Musa Abdul Shaheed
"But you can't put a tax on someone who is performing two or three times for the year."

And today after, the Cabinet decision on the 2022 Trade license Act Musa gave us this reaction:



Musa Abdul Shaheed
"Well, first of all, I have to say thank you, thank you to them for realizing it was a very huge hiccup on their part. At least their trying nothing beats a try and I'm not partial, previous governments I don't really have much good to say the current same thing so I'm not partial but at least this crew is tring to show a little bit of difference. Certain areas and that's why I say i'm not partial when wrong there is wrong where there's right it is right. They're trying to right some wrongs while doing a ton of wrongs so I mean they are trying the try and I think it's up to us the people to really be more grounded in what we want and how we're gonna get it."

And, there is a lesson in this for the community of creatives: that power concedes nothing without a demand:

Cherisse Halsall
"What have you learned about speaking out against systems of power?"


Musa Abdul Shaheed
"Only good could come out of it. Every man has a right to decide his own destiny and in this judgement meaning, this reality that we live in there is no partiality, none. So if you're going to be scared to remove a brick and a bridle and speak up in the face of oppression then that is your fault."

But with the entertainers' tax defeated, what's Next for Musa Shaheed?

Musa Shaheed
"We started a non-profit organization called Belize African connection. It's to foster and train young talents and our only age restriction is toddlers obviously there is no restriction other than that age restriction 6 years and over we are training them in the Non-profit organization. We have our studio Belize African connection entertainment and recording studio. Our plan at back entertainment is to basically foster a new generation of talents, professional talents first of all addressing attitudes because if you have a bad attitude your not mix it up with the world genres."

Among Musa's ideas is a TV show entitled "Pardon my Creole", as well as training and cultural awareness for youths, and an artist spotlight show.

Channel 7

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News
Yesterday at 11:25 AM
Thursday's update from the Ministry Of Health and Wellness

COVID-19 Data for May 26th, 2022
76 New Confirmed Cases
49 New Recoveries
0 New deaths

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628 205,093 Read More
Ambergris Caye
05/26/22 11:15 PM
How fantastic that definite action was taking against these low life creeps who are devastating our natural resources. I hope that they are made to pay their fines and if the do not pay, they should be sent to prison.There should be no mercy.

Congratulations to the people of Hol Chan Marine and the others for catching and prosecuting these guys.

There is NOTHING more important than protecting our waters and marine life. The future of the entire country depends on this protection.

I live north of Costa Blu and here is what I have personally observed in the last 15 years:

In 2005 I could walk into the water at night with a flashlight and get all the lobster I wanted.

As recently as 2015 I could go fishing for snapper inside the reef and come back in 3-4 hours with a dozen good fish to eat and share with neighbors.

Two years ago I could go off my dock and in 30 minutes get 3-4 conch for ceviche.

NONE of this is possible anymore. The Playadores have taken everything they can from our waters no matter what size the conch, lobster or fish may be.
These criminals and others like them need to be stopped and FINED BIG TIME!

It's up to all of us to help preserve the future of Belize.
1 130 Read More
Weather
05/26/22 09:42 PM
There is some Thunder around right now. And patches of rain.
I am going to say the 2022 Rainy season started on Monday 24 May

The Rainy season start is loosely defined as :
" Over 30mm ( 1¼") Rain in a Week, and 5 of the next 7 days are significant rain days. "

On Monday we had 25mm ( 1" ) of rain over night.
Belmopan may not have had much rain until today, but many other parts of Belize have had a lot of rain.
And the forecast is for significant rain over the next 4 or 5 days.
So I feel we can say we are now in the Rainy season, even though we could easily have a fair bit of dry in early June.

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Weather analysis shows tropical wave over Central America.

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3 160 Read More
News
05/26/22 03:59 PM
Cabinet Brief 26th May 2022

The Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, met in regular session on 24th May 2022.

The Minister of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation informed Cabinet of a constructive meeting with the leaders of communities in southern Belize to address the issue of erosion on Silk Caye. After meeting with relevant stakeholders, a task force was established including the community leaders, technical advisors from the Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation, Ministry of Natural Resources, Petroleum and Mining, Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, and the Belize Coast Guard. Based on the findings of the assessment, the Fisheries Department will be giving approval for the community to proceed with the work started to address the erosion with the support of the technical experts.

Cabinet noted that at Monday’s House Committee Meeting, stakeholders presented their concerns regarding the Trade License Bill 2022. Noting the fragile state of the entertainment industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cabinet agreed to defer any fee for local entertainers while consultations continue with stakeholders in the entertainment industry. In addition, Cabinet will consult to develop incentives for the creative sector. All other recommendations presented at Monday’s House Committee Meeting will be duly considered before the revised bill is presented to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Cabinet gave its recommendation for a motion to be presented at the next sitting of the National Assembly for a loan motion from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) for US$24 million to finance the upgrading and rehabilitation of 16 miles of the Philip Goldson Highway, from mile 8 ½ to 24½. The rehabilitation of this 16-mile section of the Philip Goldson Highway is expected to reduce transportation costs and accident rates, increase access to services, increase employment opportunities and improve climate resilience.

With a view to fast-track private sector investment and further stimulate economic growth, Cabinet approved certain policy and legislative adjustments to reduce turn-around time and streamline processes and provide additional incentives for various investment incentives programs including the small business (MSME) enhancement program, the designated processing areas program used by BPO's, agro-processing, aquaculture and manufacturing, and the fiscal incentives program used by tourism and other business ventures.

Cabinet approved the development concept of a Government Administration Campus in Belize City in the Lake Independence Development Area using a public-private partnership vehicle. It is intended that such a campus will consolidate government departments scattered across the city including the various courts of the judiciary and enable the more efficient provision of government services to the public.

Cabinet took note of the report from the Inter-Ministerial Committee on measures that would improve the effectiveness of garbage disposal as well as recommendations on the sustainable practices to promote a clean environment, climate protection and zero waste for the health, aesthetics and well-being of the country. Recommendations include a review of the current environmental protection regulations, amendments to the Returnable Containers Act, strengthening the institutional capacity of the Department of the Environment, new actions on plastic and waste disposal and an awareness campaign on cleaner communities and recycling.

On COVID-19, as of 23rd May 2022, 216,474 or 50.32% of the total population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 211,693 or 49.21% of the total population two doses, and 47,671 or 11.09 % of the total population had received booster shots. As of 23rd May 2022, 31,803 or 54.56% of the target population (58,292) of children ages 12 to 17 years have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 26,628 or 45.68% of the target population have been fully vaccinated. Since the start of the pandemic, the cumulative number of deaths up to 20th May 2022 is 677.

The Ministry of Health & Wellness reminds the public that an unvaccinated person is 24 times more likely to die compared to a vaccinated person and statistics show that the adjusted mortality rate for every 10,000 people is 1.99 among fully vaccinated, 6.35 among partially vaccinated and 48.42 per 10,000 unvaccinated individuals.

Finally, Cabinet advises all Belizeans to continue to adhere to COVID-19 prevention safety measures including wearing a face mask in public, maintaining physical distance where possible and washing hands regularly. Cabinet also encourages all those not yet vaccinated to do so. Vaccines save lives.
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