|Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño, provides the keynote address to open the regional Ministerial meeting held at the Belize Yacht Club here in San Pedro. He is joined in the photo by US Embassador to Belize, Mr. Russell Freeman, (right) and Dr. Marco Gonzŕlez, President of CCAD.|
|Billboards have gone up around San Pedro promoting environmentally friendly use of the Barrier Reef.|
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) extends from the southern half of the Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands of Honduras. It includes the second longest barrier reef in the world. The MBRS project seeks to enhance protection of the unique and vulnerable marine and coastal ecosystems within this system.
With this in mind, MBRS forges onward in the pursuit of its policy objectives it hosted the First Ministerial Meeting for Cooperation in the Gulf of Honduras at the Belize Yacht Club from December 6th – 8th. Present for this special meeting were Belize Deputy Prime Minister Honorable John Briceño, President of la Comision Centro Americana de Ambiente y Desarollo, Ambassador of the United States of America Russell Freeman along with San Pedro Mayor Elsa Paz, Belize Rural South Area Representative Manuel Heredia Jr., and other key dignitaries.
Recognizing that cooperation is a key strategy for strengthening relations between the countries this important meeting offered the opportunity to initiate a dialogue, establish agreements in areas of mutual interest for Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, and stimulate mutual support mainly focused on the sustainable use of fisheries, tourism and trans-boundary protected areas.
The consolidation of the Southern Trans-boundary Commission started in 2002. Subsequently, it has convened four meetings to identify regional issues and translate them into regional regulations.
In the year 2003, their efforts resulted in the establishment of a Policy Working Group (PWG) comprising the Legal Advisers of the Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment, Tourism Institutes and Fisheries Departments from Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.
This group, under the coordination of the Environmental Law Program of the IUCN-World Conservation Union(UICN-ORMA), took on the task of turning the recommendations of the Southern Trans-boundary Parks Commission into policies that were in agreement with national and international legislation.
In July 2003, the Council of Ministers of the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) adopted the policy outlined in the document entitled "Sustainable Development of Fisheries, Tourism and Trans-boundary Marine Protected Areas in the MBRS". That document was the basis for the development of standards and regulations that strengthen and implement the policies endorsed by the CCAD Council of Ministers.