Hol Chan Marine Reserve to spearhead emergency response brigade training
Friday, February 4th, 2022
From the 17th to the 20th of May, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve will train advanced-level divers to create an emergency response brigade. The brigade will assess damages to the barrier reef following any major natural disaster. The Rapid Response and Emergency Reef Restoration Course training collaborates with the Fisheries Department, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, The Nature Conservancy, and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund. The deadline for the application is February 11th, and the training is free of cost. The application form is available via this link https://drive.google.com/…/1sI or by emailing [email protected].
The same type of training was done in Mexico, and once the brigade is formed, the members are to stay active and ready to respond anytime their services are needed. This course aims to train 15 selected persons with in-depth knowledge and skills to respond to impacts caused to the reef system from tropical storms and hurricanes.
Hol Chan’s Technical Supervisor Kirah Forman-Castillo explained that the brigade groups would initially focus on portions of the reef system that are insured. Due to their biodiversity, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Turneffe Atoll are insured. Castillo said that in the event of a hurricane, the brigade would assess these areas, and insurance funds would be collected based on damages found. These funds will then assist in restoring these critical marine protected areas in the country.
The training is expected to attract applicants from San Pedro Town, Caye Caulker, and the Turneffe Atoll who can respond quickly after a storm or similar natural disaster. However, participants from other areas are also encouraged to apply as this program will be introduced to other parts of the country. Hol Chan and Turneffe are considered pilot projects, but the program will eventually extend to the entire country. Castillo said the barrier reef extends along the length of the Belizean coastline, and trained divers in this subject must be from all over the country.
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