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Oceana Delivers Petitions to Initiate Referendum

Belizeans Should Decide If Offshore Oil Moratorium Should Ever Be Lifted

Press Release Date: June 22, 2023

Location: City of Belmopan, Belize


Today, in accordance with Section 2(2) of the Referendum Act Oceana delivered to the office of the Governor General, signed petitions from registered Belizean voters to trigger a referendum on the right to be consulted before the moratorium on offshore oil and natural gas exploration and petroleum operations is ever lifted. The number of petitions delivered today exceeds the legally required ten percent of the electorate. Since November 2022, Oceana has diligently collected, vetted, and verified the accompanying personal information provided by more than 22,000 Belizeans.

Oceana’s Vice President Janelle Chanona emphasized the significance of this petition: “This signature drive reminds, respects and resoundingly reiterates that Belizeans want to be heard on this national issue. Today is all about the sensational resiliency of Belizeans to love and protect livelihoods, identity and food security from an inherently dirty and dangerous industry. An official vote will finally ensure that if any future administration wants to lift the moratorium, that administration would be guided by the Belizean electorate and made collectively, transparently and after well-informed deliberation. As stewards of one of the most globally significant marine environments and leaders of innovative financial mechanisms, we have a clear responsibility to ensure that generations of Belizeans will always be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of our precious Caribbean Sea.

The question to be put to a referendum for the approval or disapproval of the people of Belize is:

“Do you support a legislative ban by way of an amendment to the Belize Constitution, Chapter 4 of the Laws of Belize, which will prohibit offshore petroleum and natural gas exploration (including but not limited to seismic testing, seismic surveys, multibeam surveys), development, drilling, extraction, production, storage, and disposal within the internal waters, territorial sea, and the exclusive economic zone of Belize (‘petroleum operations’), unless a referendum is held in accordance with the Referendum Act, Chapter 10 of the Laws of Belize, which approves such petroleum operations?”

Oceana is proud to stand alongside fellow Belizeans, our numerous organizational allies, patriotic supporters and dedicated Wavemakers to advocate for the protection of Belize’s invaluable marine resources since 2009. By amplifying the voices of the Belizean people, Oceana reiterates its commitment to safeguard our precious marine resources from the detrimental and hazardous impacts of the offshore oil industry.

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.