The International Year of the Reef (IYOR) Committee held a fundraiser and Reef Gala last Friday night, November 14th 2008 at the Radisson Fort George Hotel.
The Year celebrates the achievements of the International Year of the Reef 2008 and aims to encourage additional awareness and commitment from partnering private organizations, Government counterparts, and non-governmental organizations. It invites the public to react to the call for stronger conservation of the Barrier Reef and all other marine and protected natural resources of Belize.
In her welcoming remarks, Imani Fairweather-Morrison, Oak Foundation Representative for Belize highlighted that forty seven percent of the Barrier Reef is in poor condition and six percent is in critical condition as researched and published in the Reef Health Report Card conducted by the Health Reef Initiative, 2008. She urged the gathering to commit to supporting the initiatives and to understand that it is a “…a sense of urgency to do much more to conserve Belize.”
Keynote Speaker at the event was the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. Dean Barrow. He noted that Belize was among the leading countries in addressing and combating the fight for greater awareness and action in the protection of its marine resources. He shared with the Gala the fact that Belize is the only country in the region with a National Policy and Plan for its protected areas.
Prime Minister Barrow congratulated the Oak and Summit foundations for their commitment in research which he described as a unique conservation method and for the financial support in the campaign to protect the marine resources of Belize. He thanked them and he committed on the part of the Government to participate and contribute to discussions that will continue in the protection of the marine and natural resources of Belize.
Reef Champion Awards were handed out to the Deputy Chief Meteorologist, Ramon Frutos, Lionel ‘Chocolate’ Heredia, and Carlton Young. Mr. Godsman Ellis was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Reef Stewardship Award was given to the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Belize.
Other guests included the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Hon. Gasper Vega, and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Rene Montero. The Reef Gala was sponsored by the Protected Area Conservation Trust (PACT) and the Oak Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the tickets will go to a Trust Fund through PACT to protect the Belize Barrier Reef.
The International Year of the Reef is being held under the theme, “Celebrating our Marine Protected Areas Network, Protected Areas Network…a string of pearls in the Jewel.”

Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment
International Year of the Reef 2008
Belmopan - 18 November, 2008