By Ingrid Fernandez
The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), this week commended Belize on its decision to ban offshore oil exploration, which it believes is an important step in the right direction to protecting the reef and aquatic environment.
The WWF called for a complete ban on offshore oil exploration and drilling in Belize as it believes the current ban does not remove the threat entirely and risking any oil spill within Belize’s waters could have devastating effects on the reef and marine environment.
“The reef is important to Belize’s socio-cultural and national economic wellbeing with many local livelihoods tied to its goods and services. Safeguarding it should be a national priority. Today we want to acknowledge an important achievement and we look forward to reviewing the policy approved by the Cabinet in detail,” the WWF said.
The foundation advocated for a stronger environmental consciousness informed by strong science, social and environmental impact assessments, an oil contingency response plan and overall agreement from the Belizean public.
The WWF also believes Belize could improve in the area of sustainable development by addressing coastal projects that can have negative effects on the reef and implement projects that will continue providing long-term economic and environmental prosperity for the country.
The foundation has been active since 2010, advocating for a full offshore oil exploration and drilling ban within Belize’s land-based protected areas and all offshore waters. Last week GOB banned offshore oil exploration within the seven marine reserves that make up the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site.