Between March 9, 2015 and March 15, 2015, Belizeans across the country gathered to celebrate Reef Week 2015 under the theme, “Celebrate our heritage. Protect our future. Belief in the reef!” Every year, members of the non-governmental and environmental community as well as Government entities organize a series of events over the course of a week to recognize the incalculable contribution of the Belize Barrier Reef System to the national economy and the nation’s cultural identity.
More than 200,000 Belizeans living in Belize’s coastal and island communities earn their livelihoods from tourism, making that industry account for almost 25% of the country’s gross domestic product. Another 18,000 Belizeans are directly dependent on Belize’s fisheries for their livelihoods. Therefore, efforts to ensure protection of those natural resources ensure economic sustainability for almost two thirds of Belize’s population.
Visitors toured the Fragments of Hope coral restoration sites
MarAlliance's Beto the Bullshark and Hammy the Hammerhead bomb the stage at the Reef Week Fair at the BTL park in Belize City - photo by Sam Owen/MarAlliance
The Toledo Insitute for Development and Environment organized a clean up
Within such context, this year the Reef Week committee was proud to partner with the Belize Tourism Board, the Belize City Council, members of the business community and members of the general public whose in-kind and cash support helped to make Reef Week 2015 the most successful to date.
Participating organizations included: the Toledo Institute for Research and Development, the Belize Audubon Society, Oceana in Belize, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People, MarAlliance, the World Wildlife Fund, the Forest and Marine Reserves of Caye Caulker, Fragments of Hope, the National Protected Areas System, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Krem WUB, the Belize City Council, the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage, Blue Ventures Belize, the Solid Waste Management Authority, the Belize Fisheries Department, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Association of Protected Areas Managers, The Nature Conservancy, the Belize Bird Rescue, the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute, the Southern Environmental Association, Sea2Shore Alliance, the Belize Volunteers Club, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, Aldebaran and the Belize Tourism Industry Association.
Organized activities included classroom presentations, field trips to marine destinations, clean up campaigns underwater and along Belize’s shoreline and waterways, the annual swim across the historic English Caye Channel, a science symposium, open days, poetry, art and Instagram competitions, lionfish culling competition, a bike ride from the National Assembly building in Belmopan to BTL park in Belize City, informational fairs, morning shows broadcast live from Caye Caulker and the traditional sea carnival in the Belize City harbor.
On behalf of all the participating organizations, the Reef Week steering committee thanks Belizeans for their continued support for the work being done every day to ensure that Belize’s marine environment continues to benefit Belizeans and her future generations. (Visit Reef Week Belize Facebook Page for more info and pictures)
Headling Pic: Official Reef Week activities included aventures in underwater setting - photo by Cameron Rhodes/MarAlliance
Southern Environmental Association organized a scuba clean up at the Laughingbird Caye National Park
Sea2Shore Alliance presented information about Belize's manatee populations to students across Belize
Belize City Mayor Darrel Bradley and Oceana's Vice President Janelle Chanona say "No!" to offshore oil in Belize
The children have fun while learning about Belize's Marine Protected Areas at the Wildlife Conservation Society booth
A winning entry in Belize Audubon Society's 3D Art Competition
Participants in SEA's clean up activities on Laughingbird Caye