San Juan Roundabout fountain inaugurated during Reef Fest 2019

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

The newly renovated San Juan Roundabout Fountain in the Boca Del Rio Area of San Pedro Town was inaugurated during Hol Chan Marine Reserve Reef Fest 2019 on Monday, May 13th. Present at the inauguration ceremony was Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment of Sustainable Development, Immigration and Nationality Honorable Omar Figueroa, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., Mayor Daniel Guerrero, Executive Director of Hol Chan Marine Reserve Javier Paredez, Chair of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve Board of Trustees Kevin Gonzales, staff of Hol Chan Marine Reserve and invited guests.
After the National Anthem was sung at 7PM, Mistress of Ceremony, Hol Chan Marine Biologist Kirah Forman-Castillo welcomed everyone and invited Paredez to deliver the opening address. “I would like to thank everyone who came out to inaugurate the newly renovated San Juan Roundabout. This was a collaboration between Hol Chan Marine Reserve, our local authorities and ministers,” said Paredez.
Hon. Omar Figueroa then stepped on the podium and shared a few words. “Hol Chan Marine Reserve was the first of its kind in Belize, and it is a reflection of the importance of our Barrier Reef, its ecosystem to the livelihood and culture of the San Pedranos. San Pedro Town has become a world-renowned destination, and its people have benefited tremendously for their commitment to ensuring that Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the wider marine areas around Ambergris Caye are managed and protected efficiently,” he said. Minister Figueroa ended by congratulating Hol Chan on a successful Reef Fest that involved island youth and students throughout their weeklong celebration.
Foreman-Castillo then invited Hon Manuel Heredia Jr. to deliver his address. “I believe it is important to protect and conserve our Barrier Reef. As a former fisherman, that was my livelihood. Today Hol Chan Marine Reserve has become one of the most successful conservation areas in Belize,” said Heredia. After that, Mayor Guerrero stepped on the podium to share a few words. “This new roundabout highlights some of the most important species of our marine life. Over the past 30 years, San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye has evolved from a fishing community to the country’s tourism Mecca. The island’s economy has always been dependent in the Barrier Reef, first for its rich fisheries product and now for prime dive and snorkeling sites and other tourism-related activities. Over 70 % of our national tourism overnight arrivals want to experience the reef and see it. While this may cause pressure on our reef and ecosystem, it has also created the demand for more accommodations. So much that 45.5 % of our national tourism generated revenue comes from Ambergris Caye. For that reason, it is essential for us to continue to conserve our reef,” he said. The ribbon cutting activity then took place which officially inaugurated the newly renovated San Juan Roundabout.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Environmental Educator Mariela Archer presented art paintings to Hon. Figueroa, Hon. Heredia and Mayor Guerrero. Chair of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve Board of Trustees Kevin Gonzales then delivered the closing remarks. He thanked everyone who contributed to towards this project as well as everyone who has supported Hol Chan Marine Reserve since they began celebrating Reef Fest back in 2005.
The renovation was a collaboration between Hol Chan Marine Reserve, San Pedro Town Council, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment of Sustainable Development, Immigration and Nationality Honorable Omar Figueroa, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr and sponsors of 2019 Reef Fest which include Caribeña Enterprises, Atlantic Bank, Estel’s Dine by The Sea, Castillo’s Hardware Company Limited, Captain Sharks Marine Center, St. Francis Xavier Credit Union , Belize Fisheries Department and Ministry of Education.

For many years the San Juan Roundabout has displayed a life-sized sculpture of Saint Peter, the Patron Saint of Fisherman. The effigy is now surrounded by the fountain with a circle of sculptures depicting protected marine species such as nurse sharks, sting rays and turtles and is expected to house live fish as well. The new design of the fountain aims to raise awareness of the important role these protected marine species play in our ecosystem as well as for the protection and preservation of the Barrier Reef.
After the ceremony, attendees were invited to attend a cocktail party at Palapa Bar and Grill. Island residents are further asked to take care of the new roundabout and not vandalize it. If they see anyone damaging it, please report it to the Hol Chan office or call 226-2247.

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