The Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, APAMO, has called on the Belize government to ban offshore oil exploration.
APAMO is the umbrella organization for Non Government Organizations involved in managing protected areas in Belize.
At its Annual General Meeting, APAMO Chairman Mr. Edilberto Romero told the media that “The position of APAMO is to call on the government to put a complete ban on oil exploration on our offshore areas.
The oil exploration activities offshore are too risky for our natural resources, too risky for the coral reefs, too risky for the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage System. APAMO members have agreed to put a resolution to call on the government to put a complete ban on oil exploration on the offshore.”
The APAMO Chairman drew parallels to the current oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico and what this could mean for Belize: “We can look at the revenues generated from oil in the Spanish Lookout area and we can look at the effects of what has happened in the sense that even with the best environmental monitoring and mitigation plan, there are still oil spills and it has happened in terrestrial areas in Belize, it has happened in the Gulf of Mexico and it has happened in other parts of the world.
Oil exploration here in offshore of Belize, oil spills can have tremendous damage to the system; to the barrier reef, to the coral reef, to the marine system and the damage and the impact, economically on the different industries of Belize, the tourism industry, fisheries industry could be far more than what we stand to gain in oil exploration.
It could mean wiping out the livelihoods of the tourism industry. I think it would be very irresponsible to ignore that and hence APAMO’s call to put a ban on offshore oil exploration in Belize.”
The concerns over offshore oil exploration in Belize have mounted after an oil concession map was leaked to the media. The map from the Belize Geology and Petroleum Department, called the Belize Petroleum Contracts Map, shows oil concessions approved by the government of Belize in protected areas, including Belize’s Barrier Reef.
The companies which have been given concessions to look for oil include: Princess Petroleum Limited; BCH International Limited; BelGeo Limited; Blue Creek Exploration Limited; Island Oil Belize Limited; Miles Tropical Energy Limited; OPIC Resource Corporation; Perenco Belize Limited; PetroBelize; Providence Energy Belize Limited; RSM Production Corporation; SOL Oil Belize; Spartan Petroleum Corporation; US Capital Energy Belize Limited; West Bay Belize Limited and ZMT International Incorporated.