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WWF challenges GOB on empty promise to protect Barrier Reef

Posted: Friday, June 30, 2017. 3:14 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in a report this week, called out the government of Belize for its failure to implement legislation drafted to protect the Belize Barrier Reef from the threat of offshore oil drilling and damaging coastal construction.

WWF joins other non-government organizations including Oceana in calling on government to deliver on a promise it made in 2015. The Barrow administration committed to UNESCO that the necessary measures to ensure the reef’s protection would be implemented by December 2016.

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“Seven months on, Belize has not delivered on its promise to protect the Belize Barrier Reef. Instead this remarkable ecosystem – vital to both wildlife and the country’s economy – remains under threat. We urge Belize’s government to act immediately to safeguard the reef for future generations,” said Nadia Bood, Mesoamerican Reef Scientist at WWF in Belize.

The WWF’s report comes less than a week before the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee begins in Krakow. WWF, as part of the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, assessed progress on a number of protections identified by UNESCO as essential to the reef’s long-term survival.

The NGOs are calling on GOB to address the matter with urgency especially since seismic testing for oil was attempted just one kilometre from the World Heritage site as recently as October 2016.

The Belize Barrier Reef is home to almost 1,400 species of outstanding universal value and has been recognized by UNESCO since 1996.

More than half of Belize’s population (about 190,000 people) are supported by incomes generated through reef-related tourism and fisheries. The annual economic contribution of reef-related tourism, fisheries and scientific research is estimated to be around 15 percent of Belize’s gross domestic product.

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