20 marine scientists visit Turneffe Atoll

[Linked Image] Twenty scientists, who have been doing intensive research in Belize for years, shared their findings at a two day conference sponsored by OCEANA. The scientists focused on the potential dangers to the ecosystem due to oil drilling and exploration. At the close of their visit, they went on an all day tour of the Turneffe Flats. The one-day sea expedition was aimed at highlighting the Jewel’s reef system while sensitizing the group on plans for the atoll.

Niall Gillett, Communications Officer, OCEANA

[Linked Image] “We took them out to Turneffe Flats. They had a great time snorkeling and actually getting a chance to see the reef; many of them have seen the reef they, have worked on the reef before but this was the first time in Belize’s history that we’ve actually had all these scientists all in one place all at the same time. Part of the significance of this trip was also, other seeing the beautiful reef, was that Mr. Craig Hayes, Dr. Craig Hayes had a chance to explain to the visiting group that there is a move to make the entire Turneffe Atoll a marine protected area and they are working on that. And it is significant especially because that area falls under the, one of the Oil Exploration Contracts.”

Shari Williams, Communications Officer, NICH
“Why should the people of Belize support this effort?”

[Linked Image] Dr. Craig Hayes, Owner Turneffe Flats
“A Marine Reserve?”

Shari Williams
“Yeah.”

Dr. Craig Hayes, Owner Turneffe Flats
“I look at it as a management tool; it’s an important management tool that the Fisheries Department, and Coastal Zone and other governmental agencies have wisely made available. And it has tremendous potential to make sure that Turneffe is managed for the good of all Belizeans.”

Shari Williams
“For Belizeans who have no clue of what an atoll is and no clue of what the reef looks like. What advice do you have for these Belizeans in terms of supporting or not supporting?”

Dr. Craig Hayes
“Well first I would advise them to come and see because I am surprised how few people of Belize have been to the cayes and particularly the atolls. So any chance they come and visit they should come and visit, they should see what a magnificent spot this is.”

Audrey Matura, Vice President, OCEANA
[Linked Image] “I really wish I can find ways, monies, people who are willing for us to do more programs to get our kids out here to see these things. They have to see it, they just have to see it because it’s when they see it they will fall in love with it and when they fall in love with it there is no money that can be dangled in front of them to realize that that must remain ours, this must be preserve. This is our pride and identity.”

Channel 5 Belize


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