Today, oceans are being seriously threatened by overfishing, pollution, and climate change. World Oceans Day is being celebrated today to encourage everyone to take action and get involved to save our seas. A World Ocean’s Day Expo was held to commemorate this event and to celebrate the birthday of the Belize Barrier Reef. Giovanna Moguel reports.
Giovanna Moguel, Love FM News: The birthday of the Belize Barrier Reef was celebrated through a World Oceans Day Expo to raise awareness of the impact that human activity has on the oceans. The Director of the Ministry of Blue Economy, Maxine Monsanto, says that it is important for Belizeans to participate in the sustainable management of marine biodiversity.
Maxine Monsanto, Dir. of Blue Economy, Ministry of Blue Economy: “The oceans make up over 70% of the planet. It is essential to support life and in today’s changing world, the oceans are at an increasing risk from climate change, from rising pollution, acidification of ocean water, rising average temperatures and reduction in ocean biodiversity. Basically, there’s less fish and less marine life in the sea. The Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation along with our partner for today’s event, World Wildlife Fund is hosting this expo with the aim of collective action, raising awareness of our oceans and impacts of human action, our action has on our oceans but also to continue this week’s activity to celebrate the 10 thousandth birthday of our Belize Barrier Reef.”
Giovanna Moguel, Love FM News: Several booths were erected to showcase the different works that the Government and NGOs have been involved in to safeguard the integrity of the Caribbean Sea. The Environmental Education Officer of the Belize Audubon Society Janine Ayuso explains that the organisation has embarked on several conservation efforts, specifically with the Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye natural monuments.
Janine Ayuso, Environmental Education Officer: Mr. Ayuso who is our Communications License Manager, he does boat to boat, which is, he goes out to sea and talks to fishers about conservation and why it’s important and we also are talking about our reef protector program which concerns some youths from the Sarteneja, Copperbank, and Chunox area that are currently in that program and what we do with them is that we basically do some capacity building with them.”
Giovanna Moguel, Love FM News: The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been operating in Belize for 40 years and has been instrumental in marine research and conservation and also had a hand in the formation of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The Technical Assistant for the Marine Program at the WCS, Henry Brown Jr. demonstrated how the organisation can monitor critically endangered marine species with the use of laser sizing.
Henry Brown Jr. Tech. Assistant for the Marine Program WCS: “With this laser light, it is used to actually spot on the Nassau Grouper and it gives a distance between each point and so from that the GoPro actually videos the entire school and you put it on each of the fish and it records distance so when it’s uploaded into a program it is then analysed and the actual size of the fish can be calculated based on the distance from the laser light. This is our 12, uh, 10 metre transec line and it is stretched out on the reef floor and at each point the actual sub straits so real coral, live coral, dead coral, algae is recorded and so this is then put into a program. The Mermaid Program is used to analyse this data and it would give you a percentage of um, the percentage, coral percentage, algae and from that we generate graphs that can reflect how the health of the reef is doing in Belize.”
Giovanna Moguel, Love FM News: The expo was also an opportunity for small businesses to promote their products and BeLioness Lionfish Jewellery Group has an interesting goal. The group manufactures jewellery made from lionfish and recycled products as a way to mitigate the impact that these fish have on the ecosystem and minimise pollution in their community.
Dianira Enriquez, President, Belioness Jewellery Group: “The reason why we do lionfish jewellery is because the lionfish is an invasive species which is attacking mostly our juvenile fishes in the barrier reef. We found out that it eats 80% of whatever, whichever zone it is located in. It eats 80% of the juveniles and without juveniles in the barrier reef, it doesn’t work. It has a really bad impact and the biodiversity is really bad. Everything here is locally recycled products which we use like soda pop cans, coconut, the husk from the coconut itself. We do string. Everything is locally. We do not try to import anything and we do recycled products as well.”
Giovanna Moguel, Love FM News: The World Oceans Day is aimed at reminding everyone of the major role the community plays in protecting the country’s Blue Economy and creating a balance in our relationship with the marine environment. Giovanna Moguel for Love News.