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GOB introduces bill to ban all offshore petroleum exploration and exploitation

Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017. 4:47 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: At today’s sitting of the House of Representatives, the Government of Belize introduced a bill to impose a moratorium on oil exploration and all other petroleum operations in Belize’s waters.

The bill bans offshore oil activity around the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to more than 500 species of fish and 60 species of coral.

In August, Jannel Channona, President of Oceana Belize, said that “Once enacted, this legislation would signal Prime Minister Barrow’s administration’s recognition that the quality of our lives directly depends on the integrity of natural resources and that the livelihoods of the tens of thousands of Belizeans who depend on the reef are not disposable.”

Channona further added that “This legislation will make Belize a leader in protecting corals and safeguarding coastal and marine ecosystems – actions that will hopefully prompt similar actions around the world.”

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is 220 kilometer long and is the largest in the Western Hemisphere. It provides income to almost half of Belize’s population of 370,000 people through tourism and fisheries, and provides 15 percent of the country’s GDP when income from scientific research is included.

Today, at the national assembly, the environmental community applauded loudly when Erwin Contreras, the Minister of Economic Development introduced the bill to parliament.

PM Barrow has committed to ensuring that the moratorium is full legislated by November 2017.

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