Oceana and Independence Junior College team up to help Belizeans appreciate national
treasures through marine education, advocacy concepts and dive certification
As part of an innovative approach to highlight the economic and cultural dependence of all Belizeans on
a healthy marine environment, the Natural Resource Management Program of Independence Junior
College facilitated a series of courses designed to underscore the principles of management,
conservation, entrepreneurship and safety. The presentations, held between June and August 2014,
also included information on the threat of offshore oil activities to Belizean livelihoods such as fishing
and tourism; destructive fishing practices; and the cultural norms that pose a threat to juvenile fish
The initiative, co-sponsored by Oceana, integrated an open water dive certification course so that
participants could witness Belize’s incredible colorful coral reefs, productive sea grass beds and diverse
marine life first hand. For several of the students, this initiative provided their very first opportunity to
appreciate the wondrous beauty of Belize’s underwater world. According to Steven Green, while the
first plunge was intimidating, the experience was a real eye-opener. “I saw so many different [things].
It’s like a new world under there. I just want to dive more. I want to continue help the animals and help
protect them because we need them and we depend on them.” Participant Nilcia Xi agrees and points
out, “Because I have never been to the sea, I mostly would think of the forest as conserving them,
protecting them. I never thought of the sea. But actually when I went into the sea, the many things that I
saw, I said, we have to keep these things; they are treasures to us. It’s so precious we just have to keep
The PADI certification courses were carried out by Warren Garbutt of Sunny Side Tours of Placencia
village and the first dives took place at the Laughing Bird Caye National Park. The ten students who
successfully completed the certification course officially received their dive certification cards during a
brief ceremony at IJC campus in Independence Village on Monday, August 11th 2014.
Please find links to the photos here and two videos about the program here and here. For more
information, please contact Elizabeth Muschamp, Program Director of the Natural Resource
Management Program at the Independence Junior College at 670-1246/523-2566 or Oceana in Belize’s
Vice President, Janelle Chanona at 822-2792/610-2358.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana
wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over
1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures.
More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North,
South and Central America, Asia and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.