Protecting Belize’s Wonderful Barrier Reef

belize barrier reef

The mangrove-lined coasts of Belize and the magnificent coral reefs offshore are one of the country’s greatest assets. The waters are home to majestic sea turtles, hundreds of species of fish, and several species of living coral while the roots of the salt-resistant mangrove trees are an important nursery for juvenile animals. The health of this ecosystem is essential both for income from sustainable tourism as well as to protect the wildlife that call it home.

Unfortunately, many areas of the Belize Barrier Reef System have become endangered due to construction on the coast. Proposals for offshore oil drilling pose another threat. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is greatly concerned that these activities could have a significant negative impact on Belize’s environment and the more than 1,400 species that call the area home, which would have a knock-on effect on the country’s economy.

“Coral reefs are the foundation for some of the healthiest and most vibrant biosphere in the ocean, and are a huge net asset for people as well,” said Brad Ack, WWF’s Senior Vice President for Oceans. “Protecting the reefs is good for the future of the economy as well as the rich abundance of flora and fauna that require them to thrive.”

UNESCO added Belize’s coral reef biosphere on the List of World Heritage sites in Danger in 2009. Currently, 114 different World Heritage sites out of 229 in Belize are under threat from industrial activities like oil and gas drilling or mining concessions.

“Protecting the environment is simultaneously good for the economy,” said Roberto Troya, WWF’s Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Conserving the environment can include sustainable construction. When diverse and vibrant World Heritage sites in Belize are at risk, this just emphasizes how important it is that we be stay united in order to safeguard these critically important ecosystems.”

It is estimated that two-thirds of the population of Belize are dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the reef for their livelihood. Environmental economists have calculated that the coral reef protects the country from $350 million USD worth of damage from storms and adverse weather events every year.

Chabil Mar heartily supports this initiative and endorses the World Wildlife Fund’s efforts in this matter.

Respected Travel Author Rates Chabil Mar as Top 10 Resort in Belize

belize beachesLan Sluder, an accomplished writer who has contributed articles to publications like Fodor’s, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as writing more than a dozen books on Belize, has recently named Chabil Mar as a top 10 beach resort in Belize. Having widely traveled and explored the nation of Belize, he brings unique insight into all of the best places to stay, see and eat in the country.

Chabil Mar offers accommodations in the form of villas with either one or two bedrooms. The resort is set right on the beach and features two pools with a panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea. The beachside restaurant serves up a tasty range of both local Belizean fare and American favorites. Just a short beach stroll or golf cart ride from the village, Chabil Mar provides outstanding concierge services as well as free use of kayaks and bicycles for its guests.

“Many travel writers have published articles on Belize but Lan Sluder is widely recognized as the leading authority on this country,” said Larry France, marketing manager of Chabil Mar. “It is truly an honor to have our resort named as one of the top 10 best beach resorts in the country by Lan Sluder. We welcome everyone to come visit us and see why Mr. Sluder named us as one of the best beachfront hotels in the country.”

The gated resort just 10 minutes on foot from Placencia Village was recognized by Lan Sluder as “one of the most upscale places to stay” on the peninsula in southeastern Belize. The award-winning beach resort has repeatedly been chosen by TripAdvisor and other leading global travel sites for its outstanding accommodations, beautiful location and unparalleled dedication to guest services based on glowing feedback from travelers and guests.

Translated from the Mayan language, the name Chabil Mar means “beautiful sea”, an honor that the resort earns for its gorgeous location right on the Caribbean Sea. Each villa in the resort has its own unique decor and style and contains a kitchen, air-conditioning and a washer and dryer.

For more information about Chabil Mar, feel free to chat with the Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact the Reservations Manager at:reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

From reef to plate – Belize combats the lionfish

LoinfishAbout 40 years ago, the state of Florida accidentally introduced a voracious predator to the Atlantic Ocean waters: the Lionfish. And so it came to pass that the Caribbean and Belize wound up right in the middle of a Lionfish invasion.

What’s a nation dependent upon aquatic resources to do in light of this scary threat? Apply some good, old-fashioned Belize innovation to the problem: the Belize fishing industry declared war on Lionfish and decided to “repurpose” these prolific intruders by turning the species into both a sporting activity and a food source.

These days, you can come to Belize specifically to participate in Lionfish hunting expeditions that offers the opportunity to use a spear rather than a rod or cages, to snare these creatures. That said, restrictions associated with catching Lionfish are stringent: Both individuals and fisheries must obtain a special license because it’s illegal to use a spear in certain areas off Belize or while scuba diving.

For that reason, if you have an interest in pursuing this exotic sport, you’ll need an experienced tour guide arranged by staff at Chabil Mar, but once you’re set you’re in for the fishing experience of a lifetime. Have fun. Set a catch record. Pat yourself on the back because you will have helped the Belize fishing industry cull the Lionfish population.

LIONFISH – Belize from OCEANAbz on Vimeo.

There’s another benefit to be had if you book a Lionfish expedition: you could also help Belize’s movement to substitute Lionfish for a dwindling Conch catch that has diminished of late. Conch has traditionally been a popular dish, but despite stringent marine laws, supplies are becoming difficult to obtain. When it is caught, Conch flesh must weigh at least three ounces to be used in dishes served by restaurants like Café Mar, the on-site Chabil Mar eatery.

The future of Conch is already a concern for restauranteurs, but if Lionfish can be substituted, the Conch catch might even recover from its current dilemma. That would be great news for the Placencia Producers’ Cooperative Society Ltd. As the nation’s first national fishing cooperative, they have oversight on both catches. Thanks to their efforts, Lionfish is now processed locally and the crustacean has even received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, so it’s being shipped to the U.S., where it’s gaining quite the reputation for flavor and texture.

But nobody cooks Lionfish like Belize resort chefs thrilled to have a new menu item, so whether you visit Belize to catch Lionfish or you’re just interested in tasting the dish Chabil Mar-style, during your Belize vacation, you can’t go wrong by ordering Ceviche made with Lionfish. And if Conch’s also on the menu when you’re here, make the Ceviche your appetizer and follow it up with house specialties like conch fritters.

By the way, if you book a Lionfish outing, you can even catch your own dinner with the “You Catch It, We Cook It” service from the Chefs at Café Mar . . . and they know the ins and outs of preparing a Lionfish! It’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

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