Posted: Sunday, September 24, 2017. 4:45 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister, Wilfred Elrington made a presenation to students from the University of Belize on the issue of security threats to Belize.
According to a report from The Reporter Newspaper, the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage has rejected some comments that Elrington made during his address. The report says that Elrington suggested that some Belizeans prefer to save the marine life, rather than humans.
“Two weeks ago, one Guyanese minister was here in the country; he said ‘Mr Elrington, we just found an additional two billion proven barrels of oil offshore in Guyana. That means that we now have four billion (barrels). We can’t pay for hospitals; we can’t pay for education; we can’t pay for schools, but we’re not supposed to touch the petroleum. We can’t even find out what is there because the attitude is don’t touch it. I don’t know why it is being left there. The history has shown that you can exploit petroleum and do it quite properly, but we are not even to find out what we have, because somehow that is going to hurt us; that is going to destroy the reef. In this day and age, we have got to think for ourselves. That worries me, because if we are starving, it is content for us to starve, so to as to ensure that the fishes are there, that the manatees are going to survive, while the humans are dying. I can’t rationalize it,” Elrington said.
In response to the Foreign Minister’s remarks, the coalition says that Elrington was “callous” to the people of the Caribbean who just went through two devastating hurricanes and they feel that Elrington was insulting people who depend on the marine industry for a living.
According to the report, the coalition responded by stating, “These comments insult and disrespect the tens of thousands of Belizeans who depend on healthy coastal and marine ecosystems every day. The integrity of Belize’s incredible marine biodiversity supports the most critical pillar in Belize’s economy—our tourism industry. Visitors come from across the globe to swim with our manatees, sharks and other keystone species which translates to the employment of one in every four in the tourism industry. It is the sustainable management of Belizean fisheries that directly benefits more than 15,000 Belizeans.”
The coalition re-emphasized that the Belize Barrier Reef will be our best line of defense against major hurricanes because reefs absorb more than ninety prevent of a wave’s energy.
They reminded Mr. Elrington that Prime Minister Dean Barrow has compromised to enshrine an indefinite moratorium on offshore oil drilling in Belize waters. The bill is expected to be introduced at the October 20, sitting of the House of Representatives.
The statement ended by saying that the group looks forward to receiving a draft of the bill that recognizes and respects the enduring participation and insistence of the Belizean people to be meaningfully consulted on the issue of offshore oil drilling.
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