On Saturday, Oceana held an award ceremony in commemoration of World Oceans Day, where Prime Minister Dean Barrow was awarded. Janelle Chanona, the Vice President of Oceana, spoke about the importance of preserving our natural resources.
Janelle Chanona, Vice President of Oceana: “I also realize that in order to make sure that the next chapters of our stories of our citizens there is a lot hanging on that and we have to play a role in writing that chapter and making sure that that chapter is one that we can be proud of and it’s for that reason that it was really important to me and yes I had some contributing factors to the decision but to really become and advocate to make sure that we can share that story not just with ourselves and with our fellow Belizeans but with the world because we may be small but we are strong and we can be leaders. There are incredible Belizeans out there that depend on these resources every single day, all to often that is what they know, that is what they love and that is all they know there is no plan B and we’re working hard to make sure that they have alternatives, that they have the skills that they need to to make sure that they can not be solely dependent on it but until we get to that point where everybody has plan B,C,D all though to Z that we can rest assured that we are doing right by them so that every single day they can continue to depend on those resources and more importantly that those resources can take care of us. When we commissioned the award that we wanted to present to you and my colleagues at the coalition we said this award has to be somehow able to convey how significant a decision this is.”
Chanona presented the award to Prime Minister Barrow who was happy to be honored.
Rt.Hon.Dean Barrow, Prime Minister: “I am very pleased to be here this evening participating in this ceremony to celebrate this year’s World Oceans Day. I’m of course also grateful at being honored by Oceana in Belize in recognition of government’s role in passing the legislation banning offshore oil exploration in our country. Let me pause right there because I just acknowledged that the award is basically in recognition of government’s work so let me inquire, do I put that in the office of the Prime Minister or do I take it home. Let me say right off though that while the particular step with respect to banning offshore oil exploration in our country is extremely important it is of course just one step as the speakers before have made clear ocean conservation is an ongoing exercise necessitating the deployment of constant vigilance and a tool box updated as required in view of the the continuing challenge. I also want to quote Mahatma Gandhi who famously said ‘if the people lead the leaders will follow.’ it is in that context that I pay full tribute to Oceana in Belize’s mobilization of citizens to persuade and push government to go farther I immediately concede that perhaps might have been our original contemplation.”
In December 2017, the Moratorium on Offshore Oil Exploration known as the Petroleum Operations Bill was passed in the House of Representatives.