Belize observes Coastal Awareness Week 2019

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A seminar was recently held in the President’s Conference Center at the University of Belize’s Belmopan campus highlighting the various activities funded through the United Kingdom Government’s Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Program. The CME has enhanced our understanding of the nature and sensitivities of marine environments within Belize and the data sets have been shared with the International Community.
At the meeting opening Belize’s Coastal Awareness Week 2019 was Dr. Percival Cho, Chief Executive Officer CEO, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development; Claire Evans, British High Commissioner to Belize and Chantalle Samuels, CEO, Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute CZMAI. Also present were Dr. Silvana Birchenough from the UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and Dr. Christopher Pearce of the UK National Oceanography Center (NOC).
The theme for Belize’s fifth Coastal Awareness Week was “Building Coastal Resilience through Innovation. Those new trends in coastal management are drivers to a sustainable future.
Samuels told the media that the seminar was being held to highlight the technical innovations that have been applied in Belize to better manage our coastal resources. In his main address, Dr. Percival Cho concurred that the seminar was to encourage and facilitate the broad range of stakeholders involved in coastal resources management. Dr. Cho emphasized that the Coastal Zone is invaluable to Belize’s economy, where human impacts are increasing in complexity and the focus now is towards resilience in our marine ecosystems.
Professionals from the CME, now also in 17 Commonwealth States, informed on the UK’s contribution to Belize’s Coastal Zone. In 2017, a solar powered tide gauge, equipped with dual radar technology and satellite linked data transmission had been installed at the Port of Belize. This equipment monitors the impact of sea level changes, facilitating accurate tidal forecasts and contributes to the Regional Tsunami Warning System. Also under the CME, an ocean acidification system had also been deployed on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, providing real time measurements of sea water PH, temperature, salinity and oxygen levels. Such gathering of data on acidification is important to safeguard fisheries and aquaculture services.
The data sets coming from tide, acidification and other instruments have been shared with the international Climate Change focused communities. The University of Belize has also been collaborating with the UK funded Commonwealth Marine Economies CME Program in human resources and applications.