Belize’s Barrier Reef, it is one of our primary attractions and UNESCO has made it a World Heritage Site. But concerns over offshore drilling have led some to question whether it will stay that way. Today, Minister Lisel Alamilla suggested that concerns over the current production sharing agreements covering offshore territory which are being challenged in court are not necessary, as some contracts will not face renewal.
LISEL ALAMILLA – Minister
It is my understanding and knowledge that, in fact, the concessions when they expire they’re not being renewed. We do have a map that’s available. that was shared with the consultants, that ahow that since the last visit or the last report, those areas that are in concessions are less than they were before.
Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade commented on Belize’s path to sustainable conservation and development, saying that Belize cannot afford to have foreigners attempt to make their riches off our backs:
BEVERLY WADE – Fisheries Administrator:
Well it was more in a general context in terms of how we approach development on a whole, and the whole issue of Sustainable Development. The bottom line is that Belize is a country which is rich in our natural resources, and at the end of the day we must make those natural resources work for the country and for the people. It might even sound philosophical. Government always talk about a balance between development and conservation. They’re not at two opposite ends of the stick. They should actually go together. But I think that we need to strengthen our procedures and our processes, to ensure that when those decisions are made, when you have done your analysis, to develop our natural resources, that at the end of the day you see those developments come to fruition, and you actually get what you are supposed to get.
And finally, the Minister outlines the scope of the UNESCO mission which Wade chairs:
LISEL ALAMILLA – Minister
Yes, we have a mission right now. UNESCO works along with the IUCN and they have sent two persons to visit us, to see if we have taken the corrective actions, or how far we are advanced in moving those recomendations that were made. But I don’t think we’re in any way threatened to be de-listed. That would be serious. Our property is nowhere compromised at any level for them to even to consider de-listing it. Where we are right now is that we are in danger. So it means that you have to address some of the challenges of ensuring that thew integrity of that World Heritage Site is maintained.