Mr. Heredia was born in 1929 in
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. He grew up as an "island boy" in a time when
life in San Pedro was still tranquil. He displayed a natural talent in
negotiation from a very young age as he negotiated the trade of his
mother's sweet bread, intended for sale, with chocolate candies earning
the name "Chocolate".
Chocolate had very little in terms of formal
education, but whatever was missed in the confines of the classroom was
made up for amply in life experiences.
Chocolate has always had a love for the sea and its
inhabitants, and it was this love that spurred his first actions as a
conservationist, a protector of this environ that he so loved. Those
close to Chocolate remember him keeping vigilant watch over hatchling
turtles and him scaring predatory birds away from the hatchlings by
bombarding them with tiny coconuts.
As a teenager, Chocolate began his career in
commercial fisheries. This direct interaction with the sea fostered
respect for this environment. These years were the most formative in his
development as a local environmental enthusiast, as he came to the
realization of how deeply his livelihood was entwined with the continued
health of the sea.
In the late sixties, Chocolate started his
thirty-five-year career in sport fishing, using this as a platform for
advocacy, advocating for the protection of Belize's marine species,
especially his beloved manatees of Swallow Caye.
Mr. Heredia has immersed himself into various
conservation efforts, which range from attempting to stop hunters from
shooting egrets at Bird Caye to trying to convince his fellow tour
operators to shut off their motors at various manatee sites. The efforts
of this remarkable man have not gone unnoticed as Mr. James A. Waight
himself appointed Mr. Heredia, Honorary Warden at Bird Caye, Northern
Lagoon and in 2002 the Government of Belize declared Swallow Caye a
exemplifies what it means to be a conservationist. He has proven that it
is not formal education that makes you an effective conservationist, but
one's love for his environment and his dedication to its
The James Waight Conservation Award has evolved to
become the most prestigious Belizean award for conservation. The James A.
Waight Conservation Award is a testimony to the greatness of this man
whose entire life was dedicated to the service of his country and his
How fitting this award should be bestowed upon a
seemingly ageless Caye Caulker man named for sweetness,