St. Matthew's breaks ground for new campus

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 14            April 5, 2001

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Mito Paz of Green Reef signs agreement

The Belize-Mexico Alliance for the Management of the Common Coastal

Resources (BEMAMCCOR) met this past Friday in San Pedro to sign an agreement and terms of reference regarding the management of their countries' shared coastal resources.

    BEMAMCCOR is an integrated management system involving research institutes and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from both countries. Through interaction with governmental ministries of natural resources and environment they hope to achieve their mission of contributing to the conservation and sustainable management of shared coastal and marine resources, involving different sectors of society, with the objective of improving quality of life while maintaining bio-diversity.

    Signing the agreement for Belize was *Green Reef President Mito Paz, *San Pedro Tour Guide Association (SPTGA) President Billy Leslie, *Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve/National Park Manager Victor Alegria, *Hol Chan Marine Reserve Manager Miguel Alamilla, Nicole Auil of *Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute (CZMA/I), Caye Caulker Marine & Forest Reserve Manager Arlenie Perez, the *Forest and Marine Reserve Association of Caye Caulker and *Belize Institute for Environmental Law & Policy (BELPO). Other Belize organizations participating in BEMAMCCOR are the University of Belize and the Belize Audubon Society.

    Signing on behalf of Mexico was Carlos Lopez of *Amigos de Sian Kaan, Maria Luisa Villarreal of the *Colegio de Biologos del Sistema Tecnologico (COBIOTEC), Roberto Herrera of *Amigos del Manati, Alejandra Dzay of the *Universidad de Quintana Roo (UQROO), Benjamin Morales of *El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) and the *Reserva de Banco Chinchorro. (* - Executive committee members.)

    The purpose of BEMAMCCOR is to promote the coordination of the activities of both Belize and Mexico in regards to the management and the use of common coastal resources. The objectives of BEMAMCCOR can be defined as follows: a) To develop and implement activities and specific projects, including research projects, addressing the environmental problems of the region relating to sustainable use of resources, monitoring and conservation of biodiversity; b) To assess and analyze the socio-environmental situation of the region in order to generate action strategies and action plans; c) To promote and support development of sustainable economic alternatives that are compatible with the conservation of the natural resources; d) To establish and operate an information network for the region; e) To develop strategies for funding and technical assistance; f) To influence the harmonization of national policies and regulations that have an effect on the coastal and marine resources of the region.

     Included in the terms of reference drawn up by the organization are: membership criteria; obligations, rights and termination of members, and individual committees. Members consist of academic institutions, non-governmental or not-for-profit organizations. Individuals cannot become members of BEMAMCCOR. Other organizations with a regional mandate in the realm of coastal resource management may participate in the meetings and activities of BEMAMCCOR where appropriate and agreed upon by the membership of BEMAMCCOR.

    BEMAMCCOR's terms of reference state that the General Assembly is the ultimate decision-making body and they are required to meet twice a year. It will be represented by all member organizations and be responsible for developing an environmental and social diagnosis in the "area of influence" plus determine a plan of action. This area of influence will be bounded to the northwest by the Majaual/Chetumal Road to and including Chinchorro, south by Caye Caulker, east by the respective maritime territorial boundaries and west by the furthest inland limit of saltwater influence including the habitats such as coastal lagoons, mangroves, lowland riparian forest and the watershed of the Rio Hondo for Belize and Mexico.

    According to BEMAMCCOR's terms of reference, the Executive Committee is comprised of six representatives from each country and their decisions must consist of 60% representation from each group. The structure of the Executive Committee are the Chair and a Co-Chair who will provide leadership and guidance in the execution of activities relating to the objectives of BEMAMCCOR. Chosen as Chair were members of Amigos de Sian Kaan of Mexico with Green Reef of San Pedro designated as Co-Chair. The Chair and Co-Chair will serve for a maximum of two years on a rotational basis among the membership of the Executive Committee. For ordinary meetings the Chair and Co-Chair (Focal Point) will be responsible through the Secretariat, for calling meetings; disseminating information; ensuring that communication is maintained among member organizations and between the Executive Committee and other organizations; and for reporting all the activities of member organizations to other members of the Executive Committee.

    According to the agreement signed by members of BEMAMCCOR the seat of the Secretariat shall be established in the country of Chair, or Mexico for the next two years.

    The Secretariat will alternate every two years so that each country may hold the Secretariat alternatively and no member organization will hold the Secretariat consecutively. The Secretariat's principal objective is the coordination of the regional activities of the network and to follow up on agreements made by BEMAMCCOR. Functions of the Secretariat also include: 1) receiving, planning or requesting research projects, programs or activities, 2) representing BEMAMCCOR at public or official occasions, 3) soliciting for and managing the BEMAMCCOR funds and accounts of the Alliance through proper audits and quarterly reports and 4) scheduling meetings for the Executive Committee with follow up and reports on activities, as well as any other duties assigned by the Committee.

    The Co-Chair (Green Reef) will be responsible for calling local meetings and disseminating information. This will ensure that communication is maintained among local member organizations and between the Executive Committee and other organizations.

    Any decisions regarding participation in a new project area and activity outside of the priority task areas will be reviewed and analyzed by the Executive Committee and approved by the General Assembly. Aside from the terms of reference, BEMAMCCOR's immediate priority projects were determined and agree upon. They are 1) Harmonization of the environmental laws and regulations for the coastal ecosystem, 2) Evaluation, monitoring and management of reef systems, 3) Determining the value of the mangrove areas of BEMAMCCOR and 4) Evaluation and monitoring of the environmental impact of the Zaragoza canal (Mexico).

    A minimum of four meetings of the Executive Committee will take place each year. BEMAMCCOR will meet again on May 3rd and 4th in Belize City.



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