GOB and UK sign MOU on Ocean Country Partnership Programme
The Governments of Belize and the United Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Ocean Country Partnership Programme at a ceremony held at the British High Commissioner’s Residence earlier this week. The Ocean Country Partnership Programme is funded by the Blue Plant Fund through Official Development Assistance (ODA) and has three thematic areas of focus: marine biodiversity, marine pollution, and sustainable seafood. British High Commissioner Nicole Davison says that the programme provides support to partnering countries by establishing a collaborative framework to strengthen marine science expertise, develop science-based policy and management tools, and create educational resources for coastal communities.
H.E. Nicole Davison, British High Commissioner: “The ocean country partnership program is part of the UK’s blue planet fund which is a fund of about 500 million which came about after COP26 so it’s one of the UK’s commitments following our chairing of COP aimed at building cleaner oceans, clean ocean partnerships etcetera so out of that derived a partnership with Belize specifically on ocean clean partnerships that came directly out of our commitments at COP26. The three-year focus it’s about marine diversity, marine pollution and sustainable blue economies or sustainable communities. All of those are equally important. You know they are all issues that really matter to Belize because of its environment, because of its place with the oceans etcetera so it is just really fundamentally important that all three areas receive due focus. They are all incredibly important but those are the three areas that are really key areas of the program.”
Kennedy Carrillo, CEO of the Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation Kennedy Carrillo, says that Belize is the second country worldwide and the first country in the Caribbean to sign such an agreement.
Kennedy Carrillo, CEO, Ministry of Blue Economy: “The funds are being made available to a number of countries it’s not only to Belize and so it is basically available to us to access technical cooperation support. We are very proud that this project brings together not only the Ministry of Blue Economy but also the Ministry of Agriculture as well as the Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Economic Development and we are able to really put the national blue economy policy and strategy approach of inclusion and bringing together important and relevant stakeholders under one particular project. As it relates to the Ministry of the Blue Economy we are focused on two areas one of them being enhancing the management of marine protected areas and secondly of course sustainable fisheries. We have had the opportunity to do some assessments looking at the effectiveness of the management. I can share with you that the Ministry of the Blue Economy is preparing to launch the Marine Protected Areas Co-management Framework. It is a new approach, it is an innovative approach very different from what has been in the past and we are very excited that this particular project will also be providing us with very valuable information and data to guide our strategy development. The project is for 2021 to 2025 and so we are expecting that through these assessments we will be able to as I said enhance the management of the marine protected areas under this new strategy and approach but in addition to this as I mentioned there is also the Ministry of Agriculture that is specifically focused on the whole aspect of aquaculture, very similar to our ministry which looks at the mariculture aspect most recently the Government of Belize and cabinet has approved a mariculture policy that will see diversification of fisheries products moving away not only from focusing on the usual products you know because we look at sustainability but also looking at mariculture from products such as sea cucumbers, oysters and other new areas of exploration.”
CEO of the Ministry of Agriculture, Servulo Baeza, was also present during the MOU and underscored the importance of the agreement.
Servulo Baeza, CEO, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “Under the Ministry of Agriculture we have our aquaculture unit. If you heard reference to the discussion today on the memorandum of understanding it also has an area that deals with sustainable livelihoods and so we are hoping that we will be getting some technical assistance and capacity building in assisting some of our small farmers who are in the rearing of tilapia for instance to be able to do it in a way that it’s sustainable with the environment and for them to have another source of income that will assist them in their livelihoods. We’ve had a lot of discussion in terms of developing the program. Our director Miguel Sosa who is a director of agriculture unit has had attended quite a few meetings and they think we are developing a plan in terms of how well the assistance that we will be getting for that particular unit how they will roll it out”