During Reef Week 2017 Belizeans celebrated the crucial role of coral reefs to our country’s economy, food security and cultural heritage under the theme, “Turn the Tide, Respect the Reef”. The national activities occurred between March 10th 2017 and March 17th 2017.
Since 2013, organizations from across Belize have come together to celebrate “Reef Week” by organizing activities that highlight the incalculable contribution of our marine resources and the Belize Barrier Reef System to the national economy and to the Belizean collective cultural identity.
This year, Belizeans across the country celebrated the contributions of the Belize Barrier Reef through a multitude of activities, including delivering more than 265,000 signatures from around the world to the Prime Minister’s office asking for a ban on offshore oil, hosting a bike ride from the National Assembly building in Belmopan to the Belize City coast to highlight that decisions made in the corridors of power have impact on marine resources, organizing informational fairs, concerts, swims to the reef, participating in morning show broadcasts live from Punta Gorda, holding art exhibits, executing clean-ups, lionfish culls and launching social media competitions and poetry contests.
More than 190,000 Belizeans living in Belize’s coastal and island communities earn their livelihoods from tourism, making that industry account for almost 25% of the country’s gross domestic product. Another 15,000 Belizeans are directly dependent on Belize’s fisheries for their livelihoods. So it is not surprising that economic reports show that in the areas of tourism, fishing and shoreline protection, the Belize Barrier Reef contributes more than a billion dollars every year to Belize. Therefore, efforts to ensure health and integrity of our marine resources also ensure economic sustainability for the country, and safeguard the interests of almost two thirds of Belize’s population.
Within such context, this year the Reef Week committee is proud to have partnered with sensational sponsors to spread awareness about the value and importance of the Belize Barrier Reef. They include Atlantic Bank Limited, Tropic Air, Hamanasi Resort, Portofino Resort, Bowen & Bowen, and Central Cable Vision. Participating organizations include: the Belize Audubon Society, Oceana in Belize, the Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment, MarAlliance, the World Wildlife Fund, the Forest and Marine Reserves of Caye Caulker, Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Krem WUB, the Belize City Council, Blue Ventures Belize, the Solid Waste Management Authority, the Belize Fisheries Department, the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute, the Southern Environmental Association, Sea to Shore Alliance, Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, ECOMAR Belize, Wildtracks, and the Belize Tourism Industry Association.
On behalf of all the participating organizations, the Reef Week steering committee takes this opportunity to thank all sensational Belizeans for their continued support for the work being done every day to ensure that Belize’s marine environment continues to benefit Belizeans and her future generations.
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For the full calendar of events as well as photos and videos of Reef Week 2017, please visit the Reef Week Facebook page