Oil Exploration Along Belize’s Barrier Reef: An Update and Call To Action
It seemed to come out of nowhere. The announcement that oil exploration was ALREADY happening off the coast of Belize took my breath away – it did for many.
Owned and operated by Seabird Exploration – a company that certainly does NOT have a blemish free record.
In 2012, there was a public referendum where the public RESOUNDING voted NO to Offshore Drilling. On Ambergris Caye alone, over 4000 voted. 35 people voted YES to drilling.
Just last year, the Government of Belize committed to No Offshore Drilling. (Read article: OCEANA Commends Government of Belize For Offshore Exploration Policy – Dec, 2015 and UNESCO’s article: Danger Listed Site Belize Barrier Reef Gets Visionary Integrated Management Plan)
And then the announcement that seismic testing was commencing in mid-October 2016. Offshore. Around this UNESCO World Heritage Site Center – our barrier reef – that UNESCO has already declared “at risk”.
The nursery and feeding area for millions of sea creatures from manatees to whale sharks, from crocodiles to sea turtles. It’s also a hugely important area (outside of the marine parks) for fishing – that sustains many in Belize.
Oh…it’s just exploration and mapping, not actual drilling you might think. Let’s just say that they are not looking for starfish. And if NO means NO (if the word ban means: officially or legally prohibit), then why are we starting down this slippery slope?
DESPITE all the negativity that is going on in the government right now – each very important (corruption, debt, teachers strikes) – this is critically important.
Why sit back and allow the GOB to take step one? It’s time to be heard.
UPDATES FROM YESTERDAY.
At 11:30am, we went up and flew over the exploration ship and took these pictures. We were between Turneffe and Lighthouse Reef Atolls. Less than 10 miles from perhaps Belize’s best known landmark – the Great Blue Hole.
It is beyond stunning.
Atolls are rings of coral that rise up from the ocean floor and encircle a shallow lagoon. There aren’t many of them on this side of the world.
We circled the Northern Explorer – where it was plumbing waters over 5000 feet deep.
Just an hour or so later, Travel & Leisure online published an article – they have MILLIONS of readers worldwide. “The World’s Second Largest Reef is In Danger”.
A public meeting was then announced, almost a week after this surveying commenced, for the people in San Pedro to meet with the government and their scientists. 10am. TODAY. See more information below.
ACTION STEPS FROM BELIZE & ABROAD:
- Share, share, share this information and the articles out there that speak to you (recent articles from Travel & Leisure Magazine, from WWF and Oceana posted below).
- Attend community meetings. There is a after-the-fact public consultation in San Pedro TODAY, October 20th, 10am at the Sunbreeze Hotel. We need to fill this room to the bursting point. This is NOT about politics. This is about the future of this county. If you feel scared or nervous that this won’t make a difference – just go. Stand in silence but in unity with our community.
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) hereby invites you to an informative session on the Regional Seismic Survey.
Date: Thursday, October 20, 2016
Time: 10:00 am
Venue: Sunbreeze Hotel Conference Room, San Pedro
Based on questions and concerns raised by tourism stakeholders, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has arranged for an Information Session on the Seismic Survey planned for Belize.
The following representatives from the Department of Environment (DOE) and from the Geology & Petroleum Department will be there to address you on this very important topic.
CEO Dr. Colin Young
CEO Yvonne Hyde
Martin Allegria – Chief Environmental Officer
Andre Cho – Director of Geology & Petroleum Department
The representatives will explain details of the Seismic survey and will be able to clarify and respond to your questions and concerns.
- Email the Prime Minister through the World Wildlife Foundation. (162,000 plus emails have been sent already – please join!)
- Join the Facebook page Save Our Belize Barrier Reef for updates, discussion and action steps.
- KEEP AN EYE ON THE PATH OF THE NORTHERN EXPLORER. There are many who are willing to mobilize to put a stop to this. If the boat comes near Ambergris Caye – and many locals know that oil does wash up on shore up by Rocky Point (about 15 miles north where the reef meets the land) – there will be plans for mobilization.