Islander Jose “Elito” Arceo recognized with James A. Waight Conservation Award
Thursday, February 17th, 2022
On Wednesday, February 16th, well-known San Pedrano Jose ‘Elito’ Arceo was recognized with the prestigious James A. Waight Conservation Award. The 36th edition of the event hosted by the Belize Audubon Society highlights outstanding Belizeans and their passionate efforts for conservation.
The award is named after James A. Waight, the first president and founding member of the Belize Audubon Society. The annual event is celebrated on Waight’s birthday, February 16th, and honors deserving individuals or organizations for their positive work in protecting and enhancing Belize’s environment.
Arceo is no stranger to the efforts of protecting and preserving Belize’s natural resources, particularly its coastal and marine assets. As a local advocate for his hometown San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, he encourages the youth to take care of their island. Arceo frequently visits the northern part of the island, which is the nesting ground for endangered sea turtles every year. Arceo has denounced the ill behavior of persons who visit these remote areas and act irresponsibly by leaving behind their rubbish and threatening the sea turtle nesting grounds.
As a result, he has led beach clean-up efforts in these areas, pressing on the issue that improper garbage disposal is harmful to the sensitive environment and sea species. On other occasions, he drives these beaches and collects the trash left behind by islanders visiting on weekends. Arceo is also known for highlighting the importance of mangroves. These plants provide essential habitats for thousands of marine species, protect against erosion, and are natural filters of toxic substances in the water. He continues to protest activities such as illegal dredging and offshore oil exploration.
In the past, Arceo spearheaded the popular Lagoon-Reef Eco-Challenge, a two-day 42-mile kayaking race. The primary purpose was to showcase and highlight the importance of the island’s fragile ecosystem. These include mangrove areas, lagoon areas, flats, essential waterways, and the reef system.
Arceo shared with The San Pedro Sun that he was shocked when he received the call telling him he had won the award. After processing this unexpected and fantastic news, he said that looking after the environment is one of his passions. “I have never done this for any personal gain, but to pass the beauty of my country to my fellow Belizeans so that we can continue enjoying what Mother Nature has bestowed upon us,” he said. “Hoping we can pass it on to future generations for them to love, care and protect.” Arceo heartfully thanked the Belize Audubon Society and James A. Waight family for such recognition. In addition, he also thanked 1992 James A. Waight Award winner Greg Smith for nominating him, Miguel Alamilla, family, and friends for their continued support.
The proud islander looks forward to looking after the wellbeing of the natural resources surrounding the island and invites everyone on the island to join him in this ongoing mission.
The San Pedro Sun congratulates Arceo and wishes him the best in his future environmental protection endeavors for the island and the country.
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