The environmental community thanked the people of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize for their strong show of support and rally against seismic testing that commenced this week in the offshore waters of the country. The island stakeholder’s outcry was significant enough for the Government of Belize to call for a suspension in seismic operations on Thursday, October 20, 2016.
In their press release, the Government of Belize (GOB) stated that based on multiple concerns raised by concerned citizens regarding the seismic survey currently being conducted in the deep offshore of Belize, as well as the fact that extensive consultation with a wider group of stakeholders did not occur prior the commencement of the survey, the decision was made to suspend seismic operations until such consultations can be conducted.
The people of San Pedro were running on high emotions, stress and anxiety to immediately stop the seismic activity, knowing that every second that exploratory vessel was out there conducting tests it was damaging the marine life of Belize. Their outcry was so intense that the meeting with the tourism stakeholders and the government representatives from the Petroleum, Environment and Tourism Industries held at Sunbreeze Hotel in San Pedro was terminated early. Minister of Tourism, Hon. Manuel Heredia was pressured to contact the Prime Minister (GOB) to stop all operations; the order came in less than two hours.
“San Pedro I could cry right now; it is so heartwarming that people come out when it matters,” stated Janelle Chanona, President of Oceana Belize. “Because if you do not stand up for yourself, you will fall of anything. And this is real; and I thank you because unno extra special…you all basically stood up for the entire country who could not be here today. You all represented your brothers and sisters. So I thank you on their behalf, because so many people wanted to be here, so many wanted to take a stand. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart, the bottom of my soul and the bottom of the Blue Hole; Thank you so much.”
But although the GOB indicated that the Geology and Petroleum Department was to immediately inform the ship that they were to cease seismic operations, its movement over night was still in the waters outside of Belize, near its atolls all night long. Tracking shows the Northern Explorer returning to port this morning. What was it doing out there all night long? The environmental community and tourism stakeholders are monitoring the ship and demand Government to call the exploratory vessel back to the Port of Belize.
The GOB press release ended by stating that it, “remains committed to the conservation and sustainable use of our natural resources.” and Belizeans will hold them up to their word.
Tracking of the Northern Explorer overnight as it headed back to the Port of Belize
San Pedro High School physics teacher and his students voice their opinons and concerns about seismic testing
Billy Leslie representing the the San Pedro Tour Guide Association takes a stand
Hon. Manuel Heredia announces Government's decision to stop seismic testing activities
Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage Maintains its Position Against Seismic Testing
The environmental community bolstered by the significant public outcry against seismic testing in Belize especially as it relates to the last of meaningful public consultation and disclosure, hereby calls on the Government of Belize to:
- Stop the seismic testing immediately. The inspector of Petroleum confirmed that seismic testing started on Wednesday, October 19, 2016, one day before the previous announced tentative start date.
- For both the MV Northern Explorer and MV Campehe to return to port immediately.
- That the Government of Belize provide its science based justification for a 1 kilometer buffer around the Marine Protected Areas, the World Heritage Sites and the Barrier Reef.
- That the Government of Belize formalize the declared moratorium on offshore oil exploration and activity, as well as the formalization of the permanent ban around Belize’s Protected Areas and World Heritage Sites.
- That based on significant public outcry, we urge the Government of Belize to hold a national referendum on the issue of offshore oil so that the people of Belize can collectively determine the national position on offshore oil.
The Coalition says it echos the position taken by the Belize Tourism Industry Association in its release regarding the importance of proper environmental impact studies and public consultation.