Belize Conservation in Action, 07/06
Source: Placencia Breeze
Placencia Joins Forces with CORAL and WWF to Put Standards into Practice. In June, 2006, the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), held the second ICRAN MAR pilot site series workshop held over a two-day period at the Placencia Community Center on Sustainable Marine Recreation in the Greater Placencia Area, Belize. The workshop, headed by Rich Wilson of CORAL and Belize City-based Shalini Cawich of WWF, brought together dedicated local participants working to develop voluntary marine recreations standards, and to identify and develop action plans for a select number of conservation projects for which the ICRAN MAR implementing partners (principally CORAL and World Wildlife Federation) will provide technical and financial assistance. The groups are also applying for matching funds and grants where available.
The first pilot site workshop, Sustainable Marine Recreation: Protect Your Business by Protecting Your Reef, was held in Placencia in November 2005. During this workshop, participants were given a background and informational material on coral reef ecology, benefits of standards for industry, reef threats and locally led solutions.
At the Conservation in Action workshop, held in June, 2006, participants decided to focus on locally based solutions to reef threats according to the following criteria:
Benefits the health of coral reefs;
Builds community cooperation and responsibility;
Is practical and realistic;
Has manageable and realistic financial costs;
Has long-term vision;
Supports Implementation of the ICRAN MAR standards and code of conduct
Raises awareness of the local MPA
The top two threats to our reefs identified were ANCHOR DAMAGE and POLLUTION. Using the resources of Educators, Government Ministries, and local and national NGOs, action plans were developed for a local Moorings Installation Program and a Placencia-based Marine PumpOut Station, for a total budget of well over US$50,000. Money would be spent on basic materials as well as developing regulations, lobbying government agencies, developing signage and brochures, and educational outreach programs for locals, guides, Park Rangers and tourists alike on What, How, and Why.
The remainder of the workshop was devoted to developing action plans for the conservation initiatives. Project goals were identified. The moorings group was “to establish a mooring buoy installation and maintenance program prior to the next high tourism season; 15 dive moorings and 15 anchorage moorings; 8 dive moorings as soon as possible.” The pump out station group was “to establish a sustainable boat pump out station as soon as possible in the best location in the Placencia harbor.”
The ultimate goal for both projects is to have conservation initiatives that focus on Placencia, and ultimately Belize, as an advocate for the future health of some of our finest assets: a sustainable marine environment.
Roles and responsibilities of the key players for the moorings project were named as: local dive shops to determine mooring locations, installation, fundraising, monitoring and maintenance; Friends of Nature and TASTE for bases, communication, monitoring and maintenance; installers/maintenance crew: T.G.A.-FON, TMM/BCA; NGOs and the Placencia Tourism Center for accounting and financial planning; Belize Charter Boat Association to determine mooring locations, funding, and installation; and Fisheries Department for permits, equipment, labor and boat.
Roles and responsibilities of the key players for the pump out station project were named as Placencia Village Council to identify best location for unit; Placencia Clean & Green for overseeing operations and maintenance of unit; Department of the Environment, Fisheries, Belize Tourism Board, and Port Authority for lobbying and support for project; Belize Charter Boat Association to acquire surveys, promote to members and statistical support; a commercial source for pump out unit for technical details and support; NGOs and the Placencia Tourism Center for accounting and financial planning; and finally a Placencia Clean & Green Board of Directors drawn from the original planning team to secure funding, establish guidelines and regulations for operations, produce educational and promotional material, and ensure a profitable operation that sets new standards in the Caribbean Sea coastal areas.
Watch for further news on these two exciting projects, both local initiatives funded by international support from a very impressive team of players. Currently being planned as the projects gain steam are press releases to all media houses: internet; radio; television; The Placencia Breeze; Letters to Editor, newspaper articles, posters and brochures, presentations to organizations: BTIA; BETA; Rotary; Council meetings; Schools, Women’s groups; Humane Society, etc. Contact Elysia Dial at the Placencia Tourism Center for further information.