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Belize, United Kingdom sign MOU on the Ocean Country Partnership Programme on marine sustainability

Posted: Thursday, March 30, 2023. 9:59 am CST.

Photo Credit: GOB Press Office

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: After a fact-finding mission by the three aquaculture experts from the United Kingdom last month, the Governments of Belize and the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Ocean Country Partnership Programme.

The agreement was signed on Wednesday, at a ceremony held at the British High Commissioner’s Residence.

The Ocean Country Partnership Programme which focuses its work on marine biodiversity, marine pollution, and sustainable seafood is funded by the Blue Plant Fund through Official Development Assistance (ODA).

“The programme provides support to partnering countries by establishing a collaborative framework to strengthen marine science expertise, develop science-based policy and management tools, and create educational resources for coastal communities,” said a joint release by the two governments and issued by the Government of Belize Press Office.

According to the statement, the agreement is between the Government of the United Kingdom, represented by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Government of Belize represented by the Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation as the lead agency; the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management; the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, and the Ministry of Economic Development respectively.

Belize becomes the second country in the world and the first in the Caribbean to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the United Kingdom for the Ocean Country Partnership Programme.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Blue Economy CEO Kennedy Carrillo, Sustainable Development Dr. Kenrick Williams, Agriculture CEO Servulo Baeza, Economic Development CEO Dr. Osmond Martinez, and British High Commissioner to Belize Nicole Davison.

Three British aquaculture experts, (left to right) Matthew Green, Jason Mewett, and Dr. Mickael Teixeira Alves, along with fish farmer Sergio Canto (second from left) on visit to Itzayana Farm in San Antonio, Cayo District. (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

In February, the three visiting British specialists, Dr. Mickael Teixeira Alves (Risk Assessment), Matthew Green (histopathology), and Jason Mewett, who work for the Center for Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and are experts in the fields of risk assessment in agriculture and laboratory techniques for disease monitoring, and fish farm inspection, were tasked with evaluating the fish health, fish disease, and food safety needs of the Belize aquaculture industry. They met with personnel from the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Aquaculture Unit, according to Agriculture Aquaculture Coordinator Miguel Sosa.

“[The project] would assist the Ministry of Agriculture, BAHA, and the Aquaculture [Unit] with addressing any technical gaps that we have in fish disease, fish monitoring, and food safety,” Sosa said at the time.

Sosa said that Belize, which has a large tourism industry, would like to be self-sustainable, and farmed tilapia and shrimp can substitute the gap in the supply and demand of seafood.

According to Sosa, the Ocean Country Partnership Programme supports countries in strengthening marine science expertise, developing science-based policy and management tools, as well as creating educational resources for coastal communities.

During their visit the three scientists conducted a one-day technical workshop for officers of the Ministry of Agriculture Aquaculture Unit at Central Farm with the objective of developing the skills and expertise needed to adopt sustainable aquaculture food safety practices and risk analysis in fish disease. They also visited the Itzayana Farm in San Antonio in the Cayo District where tilapia is cultivated.

Their visit was certainly positive as it resulted in an immediate signing of the MOU.

British aquaculture expert Jason Mewett conducting tilapia workshop at Aquaculture Unit in Central Farm Cayo District. (Photo Credit: MAFSE)


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