Ambergris Caye to celebrate 8th annual Reef week

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

The reef plays a pivotal role not only in Belize’s ecosystem, but as the bread and butter for thousands of Belizeans. Some of Belize’s prime tourism destinations are located along the reef, thus it is the main economic drive for many coastal communities like Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. For that reason, Hol Chan Marine Reserve has come up with a week of activities to highlight the crucial role the Belize Barrier Reef plays as part of country’s natural and cultural heritage. The activities will be held as part of Reef week which will be celebrated from May 20th to the 26th on Ambergris Caye.
The purpose of the week’s activity is to bring awareness about the values of the reef to the country and specifically to the island. In her address for Reef Week as part of Reef Week delivered in March, Honorable Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development highlighted the value of the reef to Belize. “Everybody would agree that the Belize Barrier Reef is important economically, socially and culturally. Economically, it supports our tourism and fisheries sector with export earnings from the Fisheries Sector ranging between Bz$21 and Bz$27 MILLION per annum over the past five years AND with tourism revenues of over Bz$500 MILLION per annum over the same time-frame.The reef is also socially and culturally important as it has provided leisure to the many Belizeans and tourists alike. The reef as we also would fully appreciate has inspired our National Anthem – it has also been the focus of great works of art by many of our artists,” said Alamilla.

18 Reef Week
And even as coastal communities individually celebrate Reef Week on different days, what does not change is the poor state of the reef having been highlighted in successive Reef Report cards, despite its value to Belize. In addressing that concern, Alamilla said that more needs to be done to conserve the fragile reef. “In an effort to conserve the reef, we must also understand the ecologically fragile nature of the system and the various threats that it faces. These range from the mechanical destruction and sedimentation from dredging, to marine debris and nutrient-rich effluents from agriculture run-off and sewage. Successive Report Cards of the Belize Barrier Reef by Healthy Reefs Initiative has shown that significant portions of the Belize Barrier Reef are in a poor state of health due to these threats and others.Reversing this situation is not an impossible task, but one that will take dedication and coordinated efforts. One of the primary tools in improving reef health is to raise awareness of the importance and value of the reef. The celebration of Reef Week is timely and relevant to the importance it plays in our lives whether we are a fisherman, a tour guides or a hotel owner,” said the minister.

18 Reef Week San Pedro
In San Pedro, a series of activities have been planned to commemorate Reef Week. The activities are as follows:
Tuesday May 21st – Trivia Competition starting at 9:30AM at the Lions Den
Thursday May 23rd – Movie night starting at 7PM at the Central Park
Friday May 24th – Marine Fair including Arts from trash competition, poster competition and mural painting starting at 9AM at the Central Park
Saturday May 25th – Triathlon (Swimming, running and biking)
Sunday May 26th – Wahoo’s Lionfish Tournament (smallest, biggest and most) at Wahoo’s Lounge
This is the 8th consecutive years that reef week is being observed on Ambergris Caye. For more information about reef week on Ambergris Caye you can contact the staff at Hol Chan Marine Reserve at 226-2247.


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