HONORABLE LISEL ALAMILLA "REEF WEEK"
Ladies and gentlemen, specially invited guests, a PLEASANT GOODEVENING to one and all;It is indeed a Great Honor and Privilege to be given an opportunity to address to you this evening on this very special occasion of the launch of "Reef Week" which has been aptly captioned under the theme:
Belizeans! People of the Reef!!!
I want to first commend the 2013 Reef Week Working Committee for organizing the events for this week. Anything that raises consciousness of the reef system needs to be fully recognized and supported.
The reef plays an integral role in the lives of many Belizeans and bringing awareness about the reef and its value is important for the conservation and proper management of the reef. This can be realized through the need for inclusion and partnerships between both the public sector and the NGO Conservation Community. It is a commendable effort to see the different participating organizations working together to highlight the importance of OUR BELIZE BARRIER REEF during this occasion of Reef Week.
Everybody here tonight would agree that the Belize Barrier Reef is important economically, socially and culturally. Economically, it supports our tourism and fisheries sector with export earnings from the Fisheries Sector ranging between BZ$21and Bz$27 MILLION per annum over the past five years AND with tourism revenues of over Bz$500 MILLION per annum over the same time-frame.
The reef is also socially and culturally important as it has provided leisure to the many Belizeans and Tourists alike: The reef as we also would fully appreciate has inspired our National Anthem - it has also been the focus of great works of art by many of our artists.
In an effort to conserve the reef, we must also understand the ecologically fragile nature of the system and the various threats that it faces. These range from the mechanical destruction and sedimentation from dredging, to marine debris and nutrient-rich effluents f r o m a g r i c u l t u r e r u n -off a n d sewage. Successive Report Cards of the Belize Barrier Reef by Healthy Reefs Initiative has shown that significant portions of the Belize Barrier Reef are in a poor state of health due to these threats and others.
Reversing and inspiring this situation is not an impossible task, but one that will take dedication and coordinated ef for ts . One of the primary tools in improving reef health is to raise awareness of the importance and value of the reef. The celebration of Reef Week is timely and relevant to the importance it plays in our lives whether we are a fisherman, a tour guide or a hotel owner.
Hence I commend the efforts of the organizers and participants in Reef Week. understand that there are a range of activities planned for the week which includes appearances on a morning talk show, as well as a Reef Carnival & Festival and the release of a documentary on the experiences of a fisherman.
I wish you all a successful Reef Week and I take this opportunity to invite you to partner with the Ministry of Forestry, Fisher ies and Sustainable Development as well as other GOB agencies to build on this success for years to come.
Thank you and enjoy your evening!