The Beacon

Blog Tags: Belize

Oceana’s Spring Digital Mag

Hey ocean lovers, the spring issue of our digital magazine is now available! We’re pretty excited about it; here are some of the features this time around:

*A stunning photo slideshow of Chile’s Salas y Gomez Island, where we recently helped create the world’s fourth-largest no-take marine reserve.

*Comedians Rachael Harris and Angela Kinsey join Oceana to save sea turtles.

*Victory! Belize ends trawling once and for all.

*Video of Jeff Bridges’ performance at the 2010 SeaChange Summer Party.

*Trailer for Ted Danson’s new book, “Oceana”.

Check out the full issue to see the videos, photos and stories, and spread the word!


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January Jones on Swimming with Whale Sharks

For her second “Scared for Sharks” PSA, “Mad Men” star January Jones joined Oceana in Belize to swim with the largest fish in the ocean: the whale shark.

Last spring, I traveled with Oceana to Belize’s Gladden Spit Marine Reserve to photograph and film whale sharks for the new "Scared for Sharks" PSA. It was my second time swimming with sharks, so I wasn’t as nervous, especially since whale sharks, like most sharks, are not a threat to humans.

 

It’s humans, in fact, who pose the greater risk to sharks because of our insatiable desire for shark fins, shark livers, shark teeth and every other shark product you can think of. Scientists say that tens of millions of sharks are killed every year for their fins, which is directly causing some shark populations around the world to crash.


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Good News for Sharks and the Oceans

I have several good news items to share with you this week.

First, I am happy to announce that our trawling ban in Belize is now official. Belize is home to a major portion of the world’s second largest reef system as a well as a thriving local fishing community, and the ban protects both these essential elements of Belizean life.

Belize is one of only a few countries in the world to completely ban trawling. We won this important victory with the help of the local community, our staff in Belize and Sir Thomas Moore, a longtime supporter of Oceana’s work around the world.

Second, we have made great strides in our campaign to save sharks. As top predators, sharks are essential to a healthy ocean, and a hundred million sharks are killed every year by the industrial fishing industry – mostly for their fins.

Late last year, we won an incredible victory to protect sharks with the passage of the Shark Conservation Act, which banned shark finning in the United States. Now, we are on the verge of gaining two more important victories to protect sharks.


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Victory! Belize Bans All Forms of Trawling

English Caye in Belize.

After six months of negotiations and with support from Sir Thomas Moore, Oceana bought out the Belize's last two trawlers as part of a government-backed move to ban all forms of trawling in Belizean waters. Belize joins Venezula and Palau as the third country to ban trawling in its waters.

Belize banned trawling back in December and with this final buyout, mid-water and bottom trawling is effectively finished in all Belizean waters, including inland rivers and lagoons.

As part of the buyout, $100,000 is earmarked for micro-loans for local fishermen and $60,000 for disaster relief - and Belize's incredible marine ecosystem is protected! A huge thank you and congratulations to everyone who played a part in this victory!


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Become a 2011 Oceana Member Today!

A sea lion in Punta de Choros, Chile. © Oceana

Last year, the support of our members helped us win major victories all over the world. We helped score a ban on trawling in Belize's waters, blocked a coal burning power plant in Chile, and helped win the passage of the Shark Conservation Act in the US. But we still have work to do and we need your help!

Donate $35 by February 28 and you'll get our reusable water bottle, which helps cut down on single use plastic pollution. Donate $100 or more and you'll also get one year of our quarterly printed magazine, full of info about our work all over the world, interviews with our celebrity supporters, tips on sustainable seafood, and more!

2010 was a year full of successes for us, thanks to the support of all our members. Join us in 2011 and help make it an even bigger year for ocean conservation.

Join by February 28 to support the oceans AND take advantage of our great membership offers.


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Offshore Drilling in Belize Will Go to Referendum

English Caye in Belize. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Oceana made great strides last week in our fight to stop offshore oil drilling in Belize’s crystal blue waters.

First, last week the Belizean government decided not to re-issue the offshore drilling concessions previously held by the Taiwan-based Overseas Petroleum Investment Corp. (OPIC), an offshore oil exploration company. In October, OPIC relinquished its permits to approximately 1.14 million acres off Belize’s coast.  

And second, in response to a letter from Vice President of Oceana Belize, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Prime Minister Dean Barrow agreed to put the matter of offshore drilling to a public referendum.


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Victory! Belize Bans Trawling

© Oceana/Xavier Pastor

A huge win out of Belize today: All forms of trawling have been banned in the country's waters. And we’re proud to say that our colleagues in Belize played a crucial role in making it happen.

While there had been a call to ban the destructive fishing gear several years ago, the political will was lacking. But when UNESCO recently threatened to strip the Belize Barrier Reef of its World Heritage Site status, the government took notice. Oceana in Belize collaborated with Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration to negotiate the buy-out of the two shrimp trawlers.

Shrimp trawls are notorious for the amount of bycatch (untargeted catch) they haul in. Thousands of sea turtles, marine mammals and untargeted fish are caught in shrimp trawlers around the world every year. Meanwhile, bottom trawlers’ weighted nets effectively raze the ocean floor with every pass, destroying sensitive corals and anything else in their way.


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Day 3: Sailing to Tampa

Here’s your expedition update for today, from Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:

The Oceana Latitude sailed all night and day to reach our next destination, Tampa.

The long commute allowed the crew to review and prepare photos and video from the dive operation off the coast of Key West. Although the conditions were not ideal, our specialized divers were able to capture some beautiful underwater landscapes. And while in commute, we were entertained by yet another dolphin sighting. This time, we have it on video for you.

Dolphin Sighting Onboard Oceana Latitude, Headed to Tampa, FL from Oceana on Vimeo.


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Swimming With Belize's Gentle Giants

© Tony Rath

Happy Shark Week! Oceana scientist Margot Stiles wrote this post for us back in May, but in honor of Shark Week, and because I like it so much, here it is again for your reading pleasure.

Have you ever swum with sharks? Let us know in the comments! - Emily

Every spring Belize hosts one of nature’s great wonders: the arrival of whale sharks in search of spawning snapper. This year I had the pleasure of witnessing it first hand, on last month’s Oceana expedition.

The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea at 60 feet long, but it is mild-mannered and harmless to people. Around the full moons of March through June each year, whale sharks arrive and begin feeding at the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve near Placencia, Belize.

Tony Rath of Naturalight Productions has spent thirty years photographing wildlife in Belize and still beams at the mention of his most recent expedition with Oceana. “Seeing whale sharks this close is an unforgettable experience, as inspiring as seeing a puma or any of the large animals on land,” he said.


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Celebrate World Oceans Day with January Jones

Watch Oceana spokeswoman January Jones journey to Belize on a La Mer-sponsored dive.


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