Belize's marine environment and the Belize Barrier Reef is one of the country's most precious natural heritage, which many families rely on as a source of income. The Department of the Environment (DOE) believes that with the risk of oil spills imposed from the importation and exportation of petroleum products, it is of utmost importance for Belize to have First Responders and On-Scene Commanders who are properly trained to respond to national oil spill incidents.

As a result, a National IMO Level II Oil Spill Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC) Training is being held from 9th December 2014 to 11th December 2014 at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza in Belize City, and is geared towards building capacity of First Responders and OnScene Commanders in the event of an oil spill. The National Oil Spill Training is being hosted by the Department of Environment (DOE), within the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries, and Sustainable Development (MFFSD), in conjunction with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Regional Coordinating Unit for the Caribbean Environment Program (UNEPCAR/RCU), and the Regional Activity Centre / Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean Region (RAC-REMPEITC Caribe.

Participants for the training include public and private sector responders from the Department of Environment, the Belize National Coast Guard, the Belize National Fire Department, the National Emergency Management Organization, the Belize Port Authority, the Belize Defense Force, the Belize Police Department, the Fisheries Department, Belize Natural Energy Limited, Puma Energy, Port of Belize Limited, and Big Creek Port.

The overall goal of this training is to ensure that Belize has trained and experience personnel that are able to effectively respond in a coordinated, timely and organized manner in the event of a significant oil spill within the coastal and marine environment of Belize.

The specific objectives of this three (3) day oil spill training are to 1) provide basic response techniques for recovering spilled oil and cleaning polluted shorelines to First Responders; and 2) training in basic response strategies and tactics as well as the organizational planning skills required of operational supervisory staff such as On-scene Commanders to deal with major oil spill incidents on-site.

This training will further empower stakeholders/organizations that function as first responders and on-scene commanders to better understand their roles and responsibilities during a response and after an oil spill incident.