Belize City, Belize (WWF) – Today the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize Gaspar Vega, who is also the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, the Environment and Sustainable Development, announced the government’s endorsement and commitment to implement the Belize Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan.
WWF welcomes this announcement by the recently elected administration, which will ensure better protection of Belize’s coastal and marine areas that are integral to the national economy.
“The new government made an election promise to pass and implement this plan and appears to be keeping that promise,” said Nadia Bood, Mesoamerican Reef Scientist at WWF. “We expect that the plan will come into force within months, and that adequate resources will be allocated for its implementation and monitoring within the budget for the next fiscal year.”
WWF, in partnership with the Natural Capital Project and Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, has played a crucial role in helping design the government’s national integrated coastal zone management plan. It establishes a sustainable approach by quantifying and valuing coastal and marine resources, and enables the making of informed management recommendations based on ecosystems services provided through fisheries, tourism and coastal protection analyses.
An open-source software model called InVEST was used to identify the impact of alternative zoning schemes on lobster fisheries, tourism and recreation, coastal protection from
storms and inundation, and habitat for important species. The plan aims to reduce the area of habitat at high risk by 20 per cent, while also expanding economic opportunities for local residents.
In addition to the adoption of this plan, WWF also urges the Belizean government to revise the national mangrove legislation and pass the national aquatic resource bill to strengthen the regulatory framework in order to ensure the effective conservation and management of these valuable coastal ecosystems.
“Today’s announcement is a welcomed step toward safeguarding the integrity of Belize’s precious coastal and marine areas, on which more than 40 per cent of Belizeans rely,” Bood said. “WWF now looks forward to the legal enactment of the plan by the House of Representatives, so that the implementation of the plan starts very soon.”
This report prepared by WWF.