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Government of Belize bans offshore oil exploration at Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

belize barrier reefIt takes courage for a government to serve notice to powerful offshore oil exploration companies that they’re not welcome, but that’s exactly what the Belize government has been doing throughout 2015. Standing up for the nation’s endangered Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System—a World Heritage site that’s fragile, delicate and threatened—was the Belize Prime Minister and his cabinet, all of whom agreed that a policy to ban offshore exploration wasn’t just a good idea—it could be the only way to save this unique ecosystem.

As the second largest reef system on the planet, the Belize Barrier Reef is regularly subject to natural assaults from wind, rain and climate change and cabinet members agreed that by allowing oil drilling, reef disintegration, already problematic, could accelerate rapidly. It’s not the last action the government will take in its efforts to preserve the integrity of the reef; it’s first in a three-prong effort to get the Belize reef off the list of endangered World Heritage sites.

To undertake so Herculean a challenge, members of a World Heritage Committee convened in Belize early in 2015 to estimate how badly the reef has begun to deteriorate. Honorable Prime Minister Dean Barrow conferred with Drs. Elena Ospova and Fanny Douvere, head of UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Program. Everyone worked tirelessly to put together an aggressive Desired State of Conservation plan that imposes a permanent ban on mining the region’s waters for oil. It’s set to take effect on January 31, 2016.

What will happen once this ban goes into effect? First, stressors imposed on the reef will be confined to natural influences, the sale, lease and development of mangrove islands will cease and desist and penalties for members of the extractive sector who try to get around these preventative measures will be onerous. But the winners in this situation will be more than the environment—for the tourism industry dependent upon this iconic reef for its symbolic and historic role off Belize’s mainland, these protective measures are not to be underestimated.

For example, resorts like Chabil Mar attract legions of visitors eager to see this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chabil Mar has put into place Belize’s most comprehensive reef exploration experiences by affiliating with knowledgeable excursion guides who understand that a visit to the reef must be informative, fascinating, exciting and educational, whether a guest explores the reef as an observer, snorkeler, diver or photographer.

Book a Belize vacation package at Chabil Mar and enjoy a beautiful suite as well as other attractions if you stay in Belize longer. By prioritizing a trip to see the reef now, you can tell friends that you visited a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s receiving international attention and governmental intervention so this natural wonder is around for many generations to come.

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

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