Belize is winning the marine-conservation game — for now

A West Indian manatee sighted off the coats of Belize. Source: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/frontierofficial/15487987377" target="_BLANK" rel="noopener noreferrer">Frontierofficial/Flickr Creative Commons</a>
A West Indian manatee sighted off the coats of Belize. Source: Frontierofficial/Flickr Creative Commons

Tiny Belize, in the heart of Central America and perched on the edge of the Caribbean Sea, is getting great results from its marine-conservation program — which happens to be one the world’s most advanced.

West Indian manatees are returning, fish and coral populations are doing well, and fishers themselves are now licensed and controlled.

Belize, unique among the world’s countries, has partitioned all of its territorial waters into zones designed to allow marine life to be replenished — but it also ensures that those who depend on the sea for their livelihoods benefit from sustainable and scientific management.

Major challenges lie ahead, however.

These include coral bleaching — and the plague of sargassum seaweed that is burying its beaches.

Critics of the program stress a need for a much more stringent approach to enforcement, given that illegal access by Guatemalans is a major source of damage to Belize’s fisheries and other marine resources.

Source: The Guardian (U.K.)

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