Belize joins the world in celebrating World Oceans Day

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Belize will join the rest of the international community in observing World Oceans Day on Friday.  This year the focus is on getting young people involved in the global effort to conserve the world’s oceans.  The theme for this year’s observation is: Youth: the Next Wave for Change. At the forefront for ocean conservation effort locally is Oceana-Belize.  Executive Director Audrey Matura Shepherd told Love News that conservation of the ocean is very important to our very survival.

“We know, we grew up saying oh we just have the Caribbean Sea but that sea is a part of a larger ocean and so we use the word ocean, but it doesn’t mean that only the oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans we’re talking about. Any tributary that’s connected, all that body of water, it’s important for us to protect it because we like to believe that, oh if something happens in one part of the world it won’t affect us.  It affects us worldwide for example, when there was the spill in the Gulf of Mexico we found that whale sharks that have been tagged in Belize were going in that area and whale sharks are a value to our tourism industry.  People go to Gladden Split yearly between the months of April to about May June to try and see these and pay for it.  So if there’s an inter connection and people need to understand that I need to do my share to protect my little part because my little part is part of a bigger one. And in the case of Belize, it’s important for us to bring a lot of focus on our marine resources and its value to us because apart from it being a cultural value and a value that promote a certain life style for us especially in coastal communities.  It is a number one source of jobs.  We have over 20,000 people in the tourism sector who get jobs directly as a result of tourists coming to this country to be participating in some kind of marine activity.  Our fishermen, we have over 4,000 licensed fishermen so they have been getting money from that kind of industry for a while.  And it is just over all the beauty and protection because the reef always helps us with mitigating the storm searches during the hurricane season as we’re going through right now and the mangroves along the coast also is a form of protection against hurricane for our beauty.  So as we learn more about the oceans we realize that hey it is important and we have a role to play in it.       

As part of World Ocean’s day commemoration, Oceana Belize has planned a series of activities, as explained by Matura Shepherd.

“We’re holding a series of activities starting on the 8th of June, Friday, World Oceans Day until the weekend and the Sunday.  But for the Friday what we’re doing is we’re having what we’re calling the premiere of end of the line at the Bliss Institute and that premier is really a movie that speaks about the international and global crisis that Fisheries is facing and why it is important for us, not only in Belize but worldwide, to take care of our marine resources.  At that major event we will be doing a number of activities because we want people to come out and so what- the two main things that we would want the public to know about and that’s one, we’ll be awarding our wave maker of the year, that’s a person who have helped to promote the work of Oceana, we’ll be giving out the award of our Ocean Hero, that’s a person who on his or her own has done so much to protect and bring awareness to Belize’s marine resources and that’s not a person who is necessarily connected or working with Oceana and then we are giving out three awards of recognition to three institutions that have really on their own been working to promote marine and eco sustainability of our seas here in Belize.  Then also the other highlight is that we’re having a series of prizes we’re giving out that day.  So we want to encourage people to come out because for example the high school or tertiary institution that brings out the most students will then get a prize for the school, which is a multimedia projector, high quality valued at $1,500.”

Matura Shepherd says that a part of the commemoration activities is a membership drive for her organization.

“Then the person who signs up the most person that day, because it’s a membership drive that we’re launching and we want people to sign up to become Oceana members.  So, if you bring twenty five people to sign up on that night and pay ten dollars – we want you to be a paying member you pay ten dollars or more two things happen, your friend that you sign up get a T-shirt each courtesy of Oceana and you get to win a prize which is a trip for thirty persons to Cay Caulker that will include a snorkel and a tour of the reef, Coral Garden and Shark Ray Alley.  So that’s an incentive for you to bring out people and sign up more people on that night it has to happen.  There’s also another membership drive that we’re doing that is not that night but it starts from that night and a month after.  Between the 8th of June to the 8th of July, anywhere in Belize if you doing up members and whoever signs up the most through that month will then get a prize which is two nights stay in Punta Gorda courtesy of Beya Suites and your party which is four people going with you also get a tour of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, so that’s our membership drive.  But then for those who just attend and sign up, so when you sign up you get your T-shirt and you just sit down – your card will automatically go into a raffle and we’ll pick up twenty names randomly and you and a friend whoever you chose to bring will then be part of an excursion to the Blue Hole on a day to be determine by Oceana and then finally we have the oldest attendee – so when you come there bring your ID card and show that you’re the oldest person there and then you automatically get an overnight trip to Placencia for two courtesy of LaruBeya Resorts and Villas.  And for the primary schools, we didn’t want them to feel left out, so what we did is the school that brings – the principal that brings the most of their teachers.  So we know that some of the school has a lot of staff and some are smaller, it’s by percentage so if you brought out all your teachers you then get to have a trip for you and your teachers to Goff’s Caye and you get to snorkel the surrounding reef areas so that you can educate yourself more about the Marine resources to impart it to your students.”

The End of the Line documentary will be launched at seven o’clock on Friday night at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts in Belize City. 

Source: Love FM News

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