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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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reefConservational International and marine scientists from across the ocean converged in the capital for a multi sector symposium on Belize's marine life throughout the day. The NGO worked along with the Fisheries Department, Healthy Reefs Initiative, and other agencies to examine issues associated with marine protected areas management. Doctor Les Kaufman, the senior investigator for Conservation International's Marine Management Area Science Project, says that the five year research has shown that Belize's reef has wonders not seen elsewhere.

Les Kaufman, Senior Principal Investigator, Conservation International

Les Kaufman

Les Kaufman

"We found out just how important it is to the commercial fishes and the animals that support ecotourism to maintain the mangrove forests intact because it's a very important nursery and wildlife habitat. Many of the animals that later go out to the reef require the mangroves. So again it's something we knew before, but now we really know and we can measure it. Another example, very striking, is we found out that the marine wildlife in Belize is much more special and much more unique than we ever imagined. We discovered new species of fish, that's probably true for other organisms as well and that tells us several things. First of all, we can be proud. But the other thing it shows us that the lagoon of the Mesoamerican barrier reef is very contained it is like a small microcosm of the marine world and if we do good things there good things come back to us."

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator

"The information is very good information. Some of it is still work in progress but it is information one day that we're hoping at the end of the day will be able to come back to us as managers and say these are some of the things we have observed and these are some of things that we see we can incorporate in your current management regime to make these marine managed areas more efficient and to also ensure at the end of the day that they are really functioning the way we want them to function."

Kaufman said that the best news coming out of the documents they produced on the social and natural sciences is that the country's marine resources can grow and prosper, even in the face of global warming, if the protocols to protect and maintain the reef are implemented.

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 153
Good news about the Belize Barrier Reef?
Last Friday I attended the MMAS symposium in Belize City. There was a lot of "the reef can be saved if we do this or that" and" fish stocks can be preserved if these measures are taken" So where is the good news?
Well it is true that a number of new fish species have been found, it is also true that a new marine eco sytem has been found in the inter reef area which has positive implications for fish movement.
Lets look a little closer at what was actually said. For example:
Three no take zones were compared with nearby open fishing areas for commercial fish biomass .
Half Moon caye NTZ (Biomass significantly higher), Laughing Bird caye NTZ ( biomass difference marginal) Port Honduras Marine Reserve NTZ (no detectable difference) . Not much good news there.
From the official report, quote" We conclude that simply managing fishing pressures and direct human impact are insufficient to halt reef decline´┐Ż.." no good news there either.
But don't get me wrong. I am not criticizing the scientists from inside and outside Belize who have put enormous effort, time and money into researching our barrier reef and its environment and offering us valuable advice. They deserve our heartfelt thanks for their advice and warnings.
However offering advice does not constitute good news. We are told we have to better manage the human impacts on the ecosystem, river run off, pollution, overfishing etc, things we are struggling with now.
So let the last word go to Dr Les Kaufman the senior Principal Investigator for the MMAS program. In answer to a question (from me) at the end of Friday's symposium " If we continue on the same track as now, will we still be eating (marine) fish in thirty years time?"
His answer? And I quote "EMPHATICALLY NO" unquote. Good news? I don't think so.

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Thanks Chris... nicely detailed response.

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