As the President of the United States attempts to ramp up oil drilling in U.S. waters, the country of Belize has chosen to go the opposite way and end all drilling in their tropic waters.
Belize is known for having the second biggest barrier reef in the world and with them ending their drilling programs; they are attempting to do everything they can to save their reefs.
Known as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Belize Reef is 300 kilometers long (186 miles) and is home to astonishing reefs, crystal clear waters, mangrove forest and estuaries that create homes for marine life in the millions. The reef system is sometimes described as the most diverse ecosystem in the world, home to around 100 different species of coral, hundreds of invertebrate’s species and over 500 species of fish. .
The ruling to end offshore drilling was officially passed the last week of 2017 but the work to get here started before that. The idea was first proposed in 2015 and since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the people of Belize and environmental groups have been pushing their government to stop all drilling to ensure a disaster did not happen on their reefs.
“This is truly ‘The People’s Law,'” Oceana’s Vice President for Belize Janelle Chanona said in a statement. “Belizeans have remained steadfast in their opposition to offshore oil since they became aware that marine assets were at risk of irreversible damage from the offshore oil industry.”
Economically, the reef is of vital importance to Belize. The reef is the countries biggest tourist attraction, bringing in $237 million a year to their economy. As well, the reef acts as a fishery, providing food and employment for nearly 190,000 people.