Monday, July 15, 2024

Ministry of Blue Economy launches policies to better protect Belize’s marine natural resources


The Honourable Andre Perez, Minister of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation, has launched two essential policy documents considered vital to the proper management of all natural resources under his ministry. The two policies include the Belize Blue Economy Policy and Strategy and the Belize Maritime Economy Plan. The ministry is developing a master plan to identify the country’s resources that need preserving and creating regulations and best practices to protect them. Most important is to determine the type of development(s) are suitable within these protected jurisdictions.
The policies were officially presented on Monday, October 31st, during a ceremony at the Grand Caribe resort north of San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. The event included several special guests, including the recently installed British High Commissioner, Her Excellency Nicole Davison, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to Belize, His Excellency David Kuan-Chou Chien, representatives of the United Nations Development Programme, staff of the Ministry of the Blue Economy, the San Pedro Town Council and Prime Minister Honourable Dr. John Briceño.
The Prime Minister lauded Perez for his hard work in the Bue Economy Ministry, which two years ago did not exist. “He has become quite a believer in the Blue Economy and is working very hard to ensure that we can set up the first-ever Blue Economy in Belize,” said Briceño.
Perez, also the Area Representative for Belize Rural South (Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye), stressed his interest in Belize’s Blue Economy.”In the not-so-distant future, our ocean will support emerging economic sectors in Belize, such as marine renewable energy, marine biotechnology, sustainable fisheries, and ecotourism, and continue to contribute to our social and cultural values as a people,” Perez said. “It is for this reason that we must live up to our social and legal mandate to ensure that the decisions we make today will guarantee food security, income security, environmental and public health, and safety, as well as climate resilience and disaster risk management.”
To better understand these policies, senior staff from the Blue Economy Ministry explained the programs. According to Blue Economy Director Maxine Monsanto, the intention of policy and strategy of the Blue Economy are not just to guide the ministry but provide a blueprint, a pathway that other industries, other sectors, and other ministries, such as tourism, can use. “The Blue Economy Unit intends to assist in facilitation, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation between all the ministries, supporting economic development and supporting the Ministry of Economic Development. But our focus will specifically be Belize’s blue space. To be clear, that’s the coastal zone, the coast, the barrier reef, the corals, the islands, our internal waters, and our territorial seas,” said Monsanto.
Jane Salazar McLoughlin – Senior Blue Economy Officer, Blue Economy Unit
Senior Blue Economy Officer Jane Salazar McLoughlin said the Maritime Economy Plan sets up all the sectors that operate with Belize’s blue spaces, which includes inner lagoons, territorial seas, and exclusive economic zones. “These sectors include our bedrock sectors, so to speak, coastal development, fisheries, tourism, and shipping and ports. Our emerging potential for and to grow our Blue Economy involves tourism, energy, specifically marine renewable energy. As a small island state, with the potential to pilot and prove that we can move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and ecosystem services,” said McLoughlin.
These policies launched under the Blue Economy ministry will be like the Belize Marine Spatial Plan launched on October 19th. This framework seeks to pull together all stakeholders involved in the marine sector and includes the fishing and tourism sectors and all those who have been and continue to benefit from Belize’s waters. The ultimate goal is to establish the Belize Sustainable Ocean Plan.

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