Belize Fights to Save a Crucial Barrier Reef

BELIZE CITY, Oct 20 (IPS) – Home to the second longest barrier reef in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere, which provides jobs in fishing, tourism and other industries which feed the lifeblood of the economy, Belize has long been acutely aware of the need to protect its marine resources from both human and natural activities.

However, there has been a recent decline in the production and export of marine products including conch, lobster, and fish, even as tourism figures continue to increase.

The decline is not helped by overfishing and the harvest of immature conch and lobster outside of the standard fishing season. But the primary reason for less conch and lobster in Belize’s waters, according to local experts, is excess ocean acidity which is making it difficult for popular crustacean species such as conch and lobster, which depend on their hard, spiny shells to survive, to grow and mature.

According to the executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), Dr. Kenrick Leslie, acidification is as important and as detrimental to the sustainability of the Barrier Reef and the ocean generally as warming of the atmosphere and other factors generally associated with climate change.

Carbon dioxide which is emitted in the atmosphere from greenhouse gases is absorbed into the ocean as carbonic acid, which interacts with the calcium present in the shells of conch and lobster to form calcium carbonate, dissolving those shells and reducing their numbers. Belize also faces continuous difficulties with coral bleaching, which has attacked several key sections of the reef in recent years.

Dr. Leslie told IPS that activities on Belize’s terrestrial land mass are also contributing to the problems under Belize’s waters. “What happens on the land will eventually reach the sea, via our rivers,” he noted.

To fight these new problems, there is need for more research and accurate, up to the minute data.

Last month, the European Union (EU), as part of its Global Climate Change Alliance Caribbean Support Project handed over to the government of Belize and specifically the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development for its continued usage a Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) buoy based at South Water Caye off the Stann Creek District in southern Belize.

Developed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it has been adopted by the CCCCC as a centrepiece of the effort to obtain reliable data as a basis for strategies for fighting climate change.

Dr. Leslie says the CREWS system represents a leap forward in research technology on climate change. The humble buoy hosts several instruments designed to measure conditions above and below the water, and keep track of these developing threats. The data collected on atmospheric and oceanic conditions such as oceanic turbidity, levels of carbon dioxide and other harmful elements and others are monitored from the Centre’s office in Belmopan and the data sent along to international scientists who can more concretely analyse it.

The South Water Caye CREWS station is one of two in Belize; the other is located at the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI) on Calabash Caye in the Turneffe Atoll range. Other stations are located in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic, with more planned in other key areas.

According to the CEO of the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI), Vincent Gillet, this is an example of the kind of work that needs to be done to keep the coastal zone healthy and safeguard resources for Belize’s future generations.

A report released at the start of Coastal Awareness Week in Belize City urges greater awareness of the effects of climate change and the participation of the local managers of the coastal zone in a policy to combat those effects. Several recommendations were made, including empowering the Authority with more legislative heft, revising the land distribution policy and bringing more people into the discussion.

We need to be a little moreconscious of climate change and the impacts that it has, Gillett said. He added further that the Authority expects and has the government’s support in terms of facilitation, if not necessarily in needed finance.

The report was the work of over 30 local and international scientists who contributed to and prepared it.

In receiving the CREWS equipment, the Ministry’s CEO, Dr. Adele Catzim-Sanchez, sought to remind that the problem of climate change is real and unless it is addressed, Belizeans may be contributing to their own demise.

The European Union’s Ambassador to Belize, Paola Amadei, reported that the Union may soon be able to offer even more help with the planned negotiations in Paris, France, in 2015 for a global initiative on climate change, with emphasis on smaller states. Belize already benefits from separate but concurrent projects, the latter of which aims to give Belize a sustainable development plan and specific strategy to address climate change.

In addition, Dr. Leslie is pushing for even more monitoring equipment, including current metres to study the effect of terrestrial activity such as mining and construction material gathering as well as deforestation on the sea, where the residue of such activities inevitably ends up.

Edited by Kitty Stapp

Source: http://www.iede.co.uk

Top Places to Stay in Belize






Belize Tour Companies and Travel Agents

Belize Real Estate Opportunities






June 29, 2018

How the Belize Barrier Reef Beat the Endangered List

An oil drilling moratorium, development restrictions and fishing reform has helped the 200-mile-reef come off Unesco’s endangered world heritage sites...
Read More
June 26, 2018

What the New Alaia Belize Will Look Like

The newest addition to Belize’s fast-growing hotel pipeline is on track for 2020, and now we’ve gotten the exclusive first...
Read More
June 26, 2018

Saving the underwater wonder world of Belize’s reef

Just a stone’s throw off the coast of Belize, brightly colored tropical fish mingle with sharks, manta rays and sea...
Read More
June 26, 2018

RCL Exclusive Your Off-the-Grid Guide to Belize

Belize is the tropical vacation version of a perfect meal. Light appetizer, indulgent main course, decadent dessert and booze …...
Read More
June 17, 2018

Latham: Hard work must be the national symbol of Belize

BELIZE CITY, Belize — Belize is tiny for a country — about the land size of Maryland — but it...
Read More
June 17, 2018

7 Ambergris Caye Restaurants Secret Special Request Options

Once you have lived on Ambergris Caye awhile, you get to know which restaurants have off-menu special request options. Read...
Read More
June 12, 2018

Please Belize Me: Ten Reasons to Put Ambergris Caye on Travel List

After a year of procrastination and poor planning, Belize finally made it on my to do list in 2018. Read...
Read More
June 12, 2018

Autograph Collection Hotels Set to Debut in Belize with the Opening of Alaia

Autograph Collection Hotels, in partnership with owner and developer Andrew Ashcroft, today announced the brand will debut in Belize with the...
Read More
June 12, 2018

5 Reasons to Vacation in Belize this Summer

Summer is the busiest season for travel to Europe. That’s where most vacationers are headed during the months of June,...
Read More
1 2 3 19

Comments

comments

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Login

Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Don't have account. Register

Lost Password

Register

Close
Please support the site
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better
Banner-1