Some good news for the brand new yr: in what has been known as an enormous step ahead in defending oceans and marine life, the Belize government has introduced daring laws to finish oil exercise in all of its waters.
The transfer is designed to guard the delicate Belize Barrier Reef world heritage website, the second-largest within the world after Australia’s and home to 1,400 species, together with endangered hawksbill turtles, manatees, rays and 6 threatened species of shark.
Belizean prime minister Dean Barrow’s resolution to impose an indefinite moratorium marks the primary time a creating nation has taken such a significant step to guard its oceans from oil exploration and extraction – and can assist safeguard Belize’s necessary dive tourism sector.
“The decision is hugely significant,” mentioned Chris Gee, of charity WWF-UK, which was a part of a world marketing campaign. “It indicates that Belize, a developing country, is prepared to put its people and environment first.”
Oil-related harm, reminiscent of a spill, might have impacts as far afield as Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras and have an effect on the profitable tourism business.
The reefs on the Blue Hole Natural Monument on Lighthouse Reef, the second largest barrier reef within the world. Photograph: Alamy
Unesco inscribed the Belize reef – a 190-mile-long part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System – as a world heritage website in 1996. Tourism and fisheries assist half of the nation’s inhabitants – round 190,000 folks – both instantly or not directly.
“The reef is critical not only for the tourism industry, which employs one in every four Belizeans, but it also serves as a ‘barrier’ against storm surge and beach erosion, which will only increase with climate change,” mentioned Dana Krauskopf, proprietor of Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort south of Belize City.
Belize is likely one of the most fun dive locations within the world: three of the Caribbean’s 4 atolls are found in its waters, together with Lighthouse Reef atoll, location of the well-known Blue Hole (described by ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau as one of many 10 biggest dive websites within the world), as effectively Glover’s Reef, additionally a world heritage website.
Tourism is one in all Belize’s most necessary industries. Photograph: Duarte Dellarole
“Legislation to stop offshore oil drilling in Belize is an extremely wise decision,” mentioned Ralph Capeling, co-owner of Splash Dive Center in close by Placencia. “The economic potential of the reef clearly exceeds the value of any potential discoveries.”
There’s hope that Belize’s resolution will encourage different nations. “As an avid diver for over 35 years, I think it would be remarkable for other countries to follow Belize’s lead, and take positive steps like banning offshore oil exploration and drilling,” mentioned John Searle, proprietor of Sea Sports Belize within the capital.
“I was stunned to learn that President Trump recently decided to make moves to open up previously protected areas off the coast of the US to oil exploration and drilling. I guess he must have a very short memory. Can someone please tweet #deepwaterhorizon?”