At Cabinet’s meeting today, the topic of Government’s recent decision to suspend the seismic testing was discussed. Originally, Cabinet had given permission to a foreign company to conduct air gun seismic survey to collect data from Belize’s offshore area. That decision received heavy backlash, especially from the environmental community. A consultation was held after there was a public outcry which led the Government to take a step back and revised its original decision. And while there is a suspension in place, will the government ban such activities? This is the hope of the environmental community. Cabinet Minister responsible for Agriculture, Godwin Hulse, spoke on the matter saying that all the emotional drive behind the environmental community can ruin the potential possibilities.
“Cabinet said long ago from last term that there is going to be a moratorium on all of this and there is a moratorium on it and that in fact as I understand it the NGO community was going to submit to the government some conditions to lifting the moratorium. The moratorium is a policy it’s not a law but government had agreed that in fact they were going to do two things one they would ban any sort of exploration in World Heritage Sites and also within a kilometer of either side of the reef and some coordinates for that need to be determined because the reef is not linear. But in other sites the protected areas you need EIA but government has undertaken that there is going to be a moratorium and that is exactly what it means. One of the conditions that I have seen is that for the lifting of any moratorium is that you would bring in some expert who would look at the economic cost benefit of lifting it but then I asked the question from my own point of view how on earth are you going to know what the benefit would be if you don’t’ do a study in the first place to find out what is there and my understanding of the seismic was just that. The experts have said that it is not going to destroy anything it was just to map out there and it’s a part of a mapping that is coming down all the way from Mexico as I understand it to see what is there. Sometimes in this country we have to be frank and I don’t want to make anyone feel bad but my position is we have to in this country start to make decisions on the basis of good evidence and good facts. This emotional drive that we huff and puff is not good because it destroys potential and possibilities. If you do now know what is there then how could you ever make a proper decision. It’s not drilling anything nobody was contracted to drill I saw a ship out there doing some studies but as far as I am concerned proper information should have gone out there before everybody is jumping up and down and huffing and puffing.”
“The original decision by cabinet was hastily misinformed.”
“No I don’t think so at all. Cabinet said that there was going to be a moratorium and with respect to the seismic I don’t think it was misinformed at all I think it was well informed but circumstances are what circumstances are.”
The People’s United Party has called on the Government to conduct a national referendum on offshore oil exploration.