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Joins Oceana at Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage has found an important political ally in San Pedro’s Mayor Elsa Paz. Paz was aboard the vessel chartered by OCEANA to tour the areas affected by BP’s Deep Horizon spill and was joined by Hollywood celebrities on the gulf tour. At a brief press conference in the U.S., Paz was introduced by Ted Danson, actor and OCEANA Board member.

Mayor Elsa Paz, as Mayor of San Pedro has expressed grave concern about the impact that offshore exploration will have on her island community of Ambergris Caye.

“I bring greetings from my people of Ambergris Caye, Belize. I stand before you as a proud Belizean who today joined forces with OECANA with one common goal; to bring awareness about the harmful effects to our natural resources caused by oil exploration,” stated Mayor Paz.

“My country, Belize, has the second largest living barrier reef in the entire world. This provides me the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those living with the impacts of oil drilling. With this firsthand information, I can relay it to my constituents, the realistic negative effects surrounding oil exploration. Unfortunately, the current situation regarding oil exploration in our country is being entertained by the government and my people are concerned about the impact this may have on our natural resources. San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye is my hometown. It is the place that saw my parents grow and that has seen me grow. We have come a long way from a humble fishing village to a number one tourist destination in the country of Belize.”

Mayor Paz continued by saying that the residents of Ambergris Caye and Belize on a whole are distressed about this due to the dependency on tourism and the vital role the reef contributes to our economy. “The people are alarmed about the current situation of all waters being concessional for oil exploration plus the lack of governance, transparency and consultations regarding the future of our most valuable resource. This visit allows me to carry the message back to my country with the hope of enlightening those who have been blinded by the greed of allowing oil exploration to develop freely in our country,” ended Paz.

Audrey Matura-Shepherd interviewed Actor Morgan Freeman about the situation in Belize and he became the most recent person to join the ‘say no to offshore drilling in Belize’ campaign. “I saw the map, it’s dreadful, and it’s awful. There is no government oversight in Belize,” commented Freeman. “The government officials just say okay go ahead and do it and as you can see from this experience here, that could work out to be very, very bad for Belize. You have wonderful waters around Belize, you’ve got that reef, and you’ve got that wonderful ecosystem there. It’s too fragile.”

Nautica reaffirmed its commitment to Oceana by donating $100,000 to support the organization’s upcoming deepwater exploration efforts near the Deepwater Horizon wellhead. Oceana will use cutting-edge science to help map the subsurface oil plume and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) capable of reaching depths of more than 3,200 feet and filming in high-definition to explore seafloor habitat areas that may have been harmed by underwater oil.

The organizations were joined by award-winning actors Ted Danson and Morgan Freeman as well as San Pedro (Belize) mayor Elsa Paz and New York-based Spanish model Almudena Fernandez andOceana in Belize VP, Audrey Matura-Shepherd. (News Source: Channel 5)

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