Scientists at marine biodiversity conference issue a calling to Belizeans
Press Release Date: January 10, 2012
Location: Belize City, Belize
After a two day marine science conference at which over 20 scientists presented years of research done in Belize, they all signed on to a letter calling on Belizeans to protect their marine resources from the dangers of offshore drilling.
In a statement entitled “Scientists’ letters to Belizeans” they wrote, “we have all considered the vulnerability of this biodiversity to threats such as destructive fishing practices, uncontrolled effluence from land, poorly planned development on land and both chronic and acute oil spills” and urged Belizeans to fully acquaint themselves with the wealth of marine life in Belize. The letter goes on to say that Belizeans should protect their marine resources fro development such as oil drilling as these endanger the “foundation of Belize’s natural wealth”.
The conference, held under the theme “Too Precious to Drill: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize” had the participation of scientist who have studied the marine environment of Belize for several decades combined. They represent 10 nationalities, including Mexico, Venezuela, United Kingdom, Scotland, Canada, France, Phillipines, Canada, USA and Belize. The research work done by these scientists, some of whom are professors at various universities, is now being returned to Belize in one comprehensive report which is now being presented to Oceana in Belize, to assist in its work in ensuring a protection of Belize’s reef from oil exploration and drilling.
The reports will now be complied into one comprehensive research paper, which will be available electronically and in hard copy. Oceana will present the final report to the Government of Belize so that is serves evidence of what is at risk to offshore oil exploration and drilling. The report provides a record of what is Belize’s marine biodiversity, which according to Maria Palomares, Senior researcher at the Sea Around Us Project, shows that some 600 fish species and over 2000 varieties of sea life can be found in Belize, representing half of that found in the Caribbean. As Prof. Phil Lobel unveiled, he has recently discovered previously unknown fish species on the Belizean reefs and is sure that there still remains undiscovered species waiting to be found.
Vice president for Oceana in Belize called on the scientist to start preparing for a follow up conference as soon as possible since there is just too many research work on Belize’s marine resources that needs to be repatriated to Belize for the benefit of the country, especially since the policy-makers need to know what resources they have and to protect and use sustainably. “Ocean will now find ways to get this wealth of information out to the Belizean people in an even more tangible language, since Belizeans need to feel the pride of knowing they are the wardens and stewards of a unique and precious marine eco-system”, she concluded.