OCEANA celebrates World Oceans day

World Oceans Day was this past Saturday and the leading Belizean conservation society for marine issues, OCEANA in Belize, took time out to honor those who make their living from the sea. It opened an exhibit photographed by former journalist Alex Ellis titled “Sea People,” 19 photographs taken in six months featuring the people of the sea. Alex Ellis tells us more.

Alex Ellis:
vlcsnap-2013-06-11-13h34m08s156The exhibition itself is for World Oceans Day. We launched it on Saturday night.  It’ll be at the Radisson for a week.  It’s a collection of photographs of various coastal communities around the country, displaying Belizeans and their connection and how they interact with their environment.
Each image has a story behind it.  I worked along with a marine scientist who was conducting interviews with fishermen, and at the same time has also written little stories to accompany each photograph.

The organization also honored persons devoted to the cause. With more here is Audrey Matura Shepherd, OCEANA Vice President in Belize.

Audrey Matura Shepherd – OCEANA Vice President in Belize:
vlcsnap-2013-06-11-14h22m21s168The second thing that we also did was we did our annual Ocean Hero Award, and our Wave-maker Award. The recipients did not know who they were and that they would be getting this award. This year’s Wave-maker Award usually goes to a person who comes out and helps to promote our work, or to keep on promoting conservation. That went this year to the Ottley family.  We had to give it to the entire family.  These are interesting folks.  They never move alone.  When the mother comes the children and everybody comes. So the family helps us with our work.  So we gave it to the family.  They were surprised. They didn’t expect it. The Ocean Hero Award usually goes to someone who has dedicated their life to protecting our marine resources.  This year’s recipient was Doctor Melinda McField.  We thought she was very deserving of it.  She uses her science, her knowledge, and she’s very good at explaining issues.  

We also asked Audrey Matura Shepherd, who leaves her post in August, to summarize what she termed a successful year for her organization.

Audrey Matura Shepherd – OCEANA Vice President in Belize:
I think in the past year, from 2012 to 2013, we’ve don’t fantastic work. 
We go back to court tomorrow to give our arguement as to why the Government should not get a stay of the injunction that is presently on them and and the oil companies, not to drill at all in this country.  But that is what people know publicly. We were able to do a large public outreach. We were able to take hundreds of kids to the reef for them to see first-hand. 
We got several High Schools involved in different activities, especially we got Ecumenical and  Deloitte Academy to do a showdown on who could collect the most garbage along their coasts, for Reef Week.  We are going to take them on a trip.
We did Reef Week in collaboration with so many other NGOs, and that is fantastic.

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