We've heard about all the international reports Belize has shown poorly on: the Global Human Development report, The Transparency Index, The Per Capita murder rate…the list goes on. But tonight there is good news. The first ever eco-audit of the Mesoamerican Reef Countries shows that Belize is doing better than its neighbors.

Now, that doesn't mean we are doing well, but well-enough. The audit - unprecedented in scope and scale - was presented this morning by Healthy Reefs and the World Resources institute.

7news was at the presentation:..

Roberto Pott, Country Coordinator, ECO-AUDIT
"And I'm glad that for Belize we could celebrate five out of the seven , Belize is top for the region, and we have to pause and celebrate that for a little bit. (Applause), Yes, Yes."

Jules Vasquez reporting
Yes, Belize did well, best in the region for the Mesoamerican Reef Countries, earning higher marks for management of reef and coastal resources than Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Based on 5 key areas of analysis Belize had the best overall score - but still, the score is only fair, and there is much to be done - particularly in the private sector:

Roberto Pott, Country Coordinator, ECO-AUDIT
"I'm sure Mike won't mind if I chastise the private sector a little bit because it seems that they are not pulling their weight; they are enjoying the benefits of this bounty that we have in Belize. They market it as part of their brand, but it seems that they are not working to protect that brand."

Laura Esquivel, Director of Quality Assurance - BTB
"I think that we'll see the private sector; I don't like to see that the private sector was bashed like that, but like I said, it's not because they are not doing the work it's simply because the cost of certification is so high."

Melanie McField, Director, Health Reef's Initiative
"We all need to get more involved in the conservation of the reef and using this eco audit as a yard stick to measure our progress and really hold ourselves accountable is what is so important. What we have to do to defy the end of coral reefs is do more and do it faster and really get the job done because we have a lot of talk over the last few decades, and we've had some good progress, but the speed in which we're progressing is just not equivalent to the speed which the reef is declining."

And the reef system is more than just iconic; it's integrated into our national existence:

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator
"The Belize Barrier Reef is a source of national pride for Belize. The splendor and magnificence of which has been captured in great works of poetry, sculpture and even our national anthem. However, it is also functionally integrated into the social and macro-economic picture of the nation where it contributes significantly to employment, food security, GDP, foreign exchange earnings, and it's really the basis of the national fishing industry and in large measure, tourism, which is the greatest contributor to GDP."

And those are more than just words - there is a value attached to the reef:

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator
"In 2007, the value of the reef and mangrove related fisheries, tourism and shoreline protection services, was estimated around 395 to 559 million US dollars. Also, in terms of national employment, it is estimated that the reef related tourism employs 20 percent of national workforce."

And to show that Government supports improved initiatives, CEO in the Prime Minister's Office Audrey Wallace said that better must be realized.

Audrey Wallace, CEO, Prime Minister's Office
"I am pretty confident that we can get going on some of the areas that Belize did not score as well as we wanted to. And so, by the time the next audit comes around in the next two years, I believe that we could see substantial movement forward on these areas."

The information for the audit was pooled from 40 different partners. It was launched simultaneously in all four countries; Belize had the highest score, Guatemala the lowest.

It is available online http://www.healthyreefs.org/index.php/en/eco-audit

Channel 7