GOB Expands Marine Protected Areas in Biodiverse Offshore Waters
On Wednesday, April 3rd, the Government of Belize (GOB) approved “The Expansion of Fisheries Replenishment (No-Take) Zones,” which will increase the total area of Belize’s protected waters from 4.5 percent to 11.6 %, according to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). In this expansion, Belize also establishes its first protected area within its Exclusive Economic Zone, known as the Corona Reef, due to its extensive coral reef complex. The expansion is in the deep-sea area of Belize, with depths ranging from 200 to 3000 meters, which includes some of the most underrepresented habitats in the current marine protected areas (MPAs) system of Belize.
Studies show that the deep-sea area of Belize serves as an important habitat for deep slope snapper species and bottom-dwelling (demersal) species. Expansion of replenishment zones is essential for enhancing the viability and long-term sustainability of Belize’s marine resources for coastal communities and tourism industries, particularly as the country is faced with impacts of climate change. It is a crucial step for Belize in meeting the aspirations of its development plans including Belize Horizon 2030 and the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy. Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun