OCEANA continues its on-going work of providing information and education to the general public about the dangers of allowing exploration and drilling offshore in our protected areas. The organization is dedicated to the protection of our Marine Resources, and as such, was in San Pedro this past Thursday, March 17. This visit was the first in a series of presentations to update residents on the status of oil exploration and drilling within the country of Belize. Joining the Oceana team was a member of The Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage. The Coalition was formed in June of 2010, and focuses mainly on the banning of offshore oil exploration.
In collaboration with its local partner; the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD), Oceana held the first in the series of meetings and activities Thursday night at the San Pedro Lion's Den. A group of over 75 concerned citizens, including business owners, students and media personnel, showed up for the presentation.
Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Vice President of Oceana and Co-Chair of the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, spoke with The San Pedro Sun. As to the purpose of the presentation in San Pedro, she stated, "We had been to San Pedro before but we just found out about the issues about the map and we have updated information which allows us to actually discuss the contract. We can tell people what has happened since then and a lot has happened and developed in the whole debate and discussion and dialogue of oil, so there's a lot to inform the people in San Pedro."
According to Ms. Matura, one of the more important tasks that they have undertaken is the referendum. As part of the Coalition, Oceana is pushing to garner 17,000 signatures from registered Belizean voters, a task which was expected to be completed within the next three months. She informed that within the first month, the Coalition managed to garner 7,000 of those signatures. With two months left, the race is on to garner10,000 more signatures. Once the signatures are garnered, they will trigger a referendum.
The battle doesn't end there however. Going to referendum means that the Coalition would need 60% of the voting population to come out and vote on the matter, and from that 60%, the Coalition will need to have the majority of the votes.
In order to achieve this outcome, the Coalition has embarked on a country wide education campaign.
San Pedro Sun