GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE ANNOUNCES COMMITMENT TO LEGISLATE INDEFINITE MORATORIUM ON OFFSHORE OIL IN BELIZEAN WATERS

18th August, 2017 – Belmopan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Right Honorable Prime Minister Dean Barrow officially announced in the House of Representatives today his administration’s commitment and plan to legislate an indefinite moratorium on offshore oil activity in Belize’s territorial sea including its Exclusive Economic Zone. The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage welcomes this decision and commends the Prime Minister for his decisive leadership. The Coalition takes this announcement as a commitment by the Government of Belize to fully incorporate the value of our natural resources in developing a sustainable economy.

In his address to the House of Representatives today, PM Barrow stated, “[This is] the consequence of conversation with Oceana and The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, cabinet felt that the time has come to put the policy commitment into writing. It makes no practical difference since under either regime there is not going to be any licenses granted for offshore oil exploration activities. But it certainly, I believe, gives comfort to those who require some comfort that this is a step beyond just the policy commitment”.
In response to a request by the Coalition, the Prime Minister has agreed that a draft bill will be provided to the Coalition in advance to allow time for comment prior to presentation in the House of Representatives in October 2017. The Prime Minister further committed to ensuring that the moratorium is fully legislated by November of this year. Once enshrined in law, the moratorium would provide the peace of mind that Belizeans deserve on this issue.

Belizeans have been clamoring for the Government of Belize to take legislative action to formally ban offshore oil exploration in Belizean waters since 2011. Throughout that time, tens of thousands of citizens have remained demonstrably concerned about this issue given the importance of coastal and marine ecosystems to our food, jobs and way of life.
The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage reiterates its commitment to the Belizean people that we will remain vigilant and hold the government accountable to its commitment made today. We remain supportive of the Government of Belize’s actions in ensuring that this important legislation is brought to fruition and in ensuring the sustainable management of Belize’s marine resources.
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The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage’s mission is to secure a ban on oil exploration in Belize’s offshore and protected areas; and to strengthen the legislative framework for the equitable distribution of oil revenues and promote strong environmental safeguards for the oil industry.
For more information contact:
Janelle Chanona, OCEANA: 610-2358 or jchanona@oceana.org Nadia Bood, WWF: nbood@wwfca.org