On Saturday October 20th, 2018, Belizeans from across the country came out in waves to the George Price Center in Belmopan to participate in Oceana’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of its dedicated volunteers, our “Wavemakers”. Over two hundred and fifty Wavemakers from Corozal, Orange Walk, the Belize District, San Pedro, San Ignacio, Belmopan, Dangriga, Hopkins and Toledo attended this year’s event.

During the meeting, several Wavemakers were awarded certificates of appreciation for their sensational above and beyond support for Oceana’s campaigns and initiatives over the past year. Among them were Kariel Slusher from the Belize District; the Department of Youth Services (DYS) and the Health Education and Community Participation Bureau (HECOPAB) from Corozal; the Ocean Academy Wavemakers Club from Caye Caulker; Arren Andrews and Whitney Majano of the Stann Creek District, and the Department of Youth Services (DYS) in Punta Gorda.

Oceana was also proud to present a national award when we recognized Ms. Abigail Parham of Stann Creek District as the 2018 Wavemaker of the year. Ms. Abigail Parham has a degree in Natural Resources Management and a Master’s in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development. For the last 10 years, Parham has passed on her passion for the environment to her students at Indepence Junior College, emphasizing the importance of natural resources and sustainability. Ms. Parham also makes time to volunteer with several non-governmental organizations including Oceana, Southern Environmental Association and Fragments of Hope. Abigal is is staunch advocate for Belizeans of all ages becoming engaged in citizen science and its effectiveness.

Invited guest speaker was Mr. Gian Vasquez, History Lecturer at St. John’s College Junior College and Facilitator of the Referendum Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His presentation focused on the history of Guatemala’s claim to Belize, the implications of either a yes or no vote at the referendum to be held in April 2019 to decide on taking this claim to the International Court of Justice, as well as the current pressures that continue to negatively affect Belize’s natural resources such as deforestation and illegal fishing.

Mr. Vasquez’s presentation was followed by engaging dialogue during the question and answer segment. Most importantly, Vasquez stressed the importance of making an informed decision.

Oceana was proud to recognize Captain Earl David Jr. two Belizeans for his invaluable contributions to ocean conservation. David Jr. has lived and worked in what is now the South Water Caye Marine Reserve all his life. As a seaman, captain and fisherman, he has advocated for the sustainable use and development of Belize’s marine resources. David Jr. has also supported scientific research of coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses through his technical and logistical assistance to the Smithsonian Institution’s field operations at Carrie Bow Caye.

“Well I never really thought about it as,as a hero. I mean, I just do what I had to do and get on with it but I guess it’s a good thing you know and I just hope that when it comes to conservation and taking care of the ocean other people who just feel would be as passionate as I am and and lets try and keep this thing for the grandchildren, you know. Atleast they can experience some of this. Because I believe I have seen the changes on the sea. And its not pretty.”

Oceana 2018 Ocean Hero - Captain Earl David Jr. from OCEANAbz on Vimeo.

In presenting the award to Captain David, Oceana’s Vice President for Belize Janelle Chanona shared, “Collectively our awardees represent the reality that as Belizeans we are innately aware of the existential connection between our lives and our natural resources. All around us are men and women who are going above and beyond that call of duty to safeguard Belize, our home. Their actions come straight from the heart; they do what they do not to get praise but because it’s the right thing to do—and not necessarily because it’s the easy thing to do. And all of us benefit. Very rarely do we even know who these unsung heroes are—much less do we get the opportunity to acknowledge their selfless efforts. At its essence, that is what this award is all about: To express gratitude and to share their stories so that others can be inspired.”

Oceana was proud to recognize Michael J. Heusner for his invaluable contributions to ocean conservation. “Mike” Heusner has been active in conservation in Belize for more than four decades. In 2009, he was a leading advocate for the protection of three sports fishing species to secure the lucrative economic benefits of the fly fishing sector. Heusner’s tireless efforts in this regard continues up to today given that indiscriminate fishing gear such as gillnets undermine the protected status of a host of charismatic species such as managers and turtles as well as bonefish, tarpon and permit.

“Whatever I’ve done has been achieved through active participation in various organizations and committees. I challenge the younger generations to get informed and involved in development issues. Work as an advocate rather than an activist. We need activists and we need advocates, who are after the same end result.”

Oceana 2018 Ocean Hero - Michael Heusner from OCEANAbz on Vimeo.

In presenting the award, Oceana’s Vice President for Belize Janelle Chanona shared, “Collectively our awardees represent the reality that as Belizeans we are innately aware of the existential connection between our lives and our natural resources. All around us are men and women who are going above and beyond that call of duty to safeguard Belize, our home. Their actions come straight from the heart; they do what they do not to get praise but because it’s the right thing to do—and not necessarily because it’s the easy thing to do. And all of us benefit. Very rarely do we even know who these unsung heroes are—much less do we get the opportunity to acknowledge their selfless efforts. At its essence, that is what this award is all about: To express gratitude and to share their stories so that others can be inspired.”


2018 Ocean Hero Awards Ceremony

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