Top Marine EcologistsTo Meet In Belize

All Press Releases…
June 23, 2011
Belize City, Belize
Contact:
Niall Gillett ( ngillett@oceana.org )
Audrey Matura-Shepherd ( amatura-shepherd@oceana.org )




More than 20 top marine ecologists will gather this week in Belize City to review the status of the country’s marine biodiversity and the potential impacts an oil spill could have on local marine ecology.

Oceana, in partnership with the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries and its Sea Around Us Project, will host the two-day Marine Conference in Belize on June 29th and 30th, 2011 at the Biltmore Hotel, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., under the Theme “Too Precious for Drilling: The Marine Bio-Diversity of Belize.”

 Scientists from the University of British Columbia, Boston University, and the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution, and Belize itself will discuss the country’s marine assets. Leading the international group is Dr. Daniel Pauly, founder of the “Sea Around Us” Project and current professor at the University of British Columbia’s Fisheries Centre and Zoology Department.  The Conference aims at bringing greater attention on the work carried out by the local and international experts, researchers and scientists on the various aspects of Belize’s marine bio-diversity; the results of which will be presented and discussed in an effort to aid in the greater development of Belize’s marine resources Among the scientists’ chief concerns is how an oil spill would affect the region’s biodiversity and economic gains from marine resources and tourism. 

Belize boasts bottlenose dolphins, the largest number of Antillean manatees in the world, a breeding ground for at least 7 different species of sharks and rays, hundreds of different types of sponges, and fisheries for groupers, snappers, grunts, and other reef fishes. In 1996, UNESCO declared the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System a World Heritage Site. The Sea Around Us Project was created to document large-scale impacts on marine ecosystems of the world, and to find solutions to the challenges they pose.