The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig blowout in the Gulf of Mexico has sharpened attention on the oil spills occurring in many parts of the world ocean, and their potential damaging effects on marine ecosystems and the living organisms they sustain. This report focuses on the sustainability of marine fisheries of Belize in the face of potential impacts of ocean threats – in particular, oil spills. The report is timely and important in at least two ways. First, it addresses oil spills in the ocean, which occur frequently worldwide and can have significant effects on life in the ocean and the wellbeing of the people dependent on it. Second, the report focuses on a small developing country, Belize – an example of a country that does not usually receive the attention it deserves by researchers, even though the ocean and the resources it contains is the main source of existence for its citizens. Thirdly, this work is a collaboration between academic researchers, NGOs and management partners, thereby making the research output more relevant to real life problems.
This report consists of several chapters that tackle issues ranging from the ecology of the marine ecosystem of Belize right through to the economic benefits currently derived from activities dependent on the ecosystem. These include fishing, angling and whale(shark) watching. A crucial point made in the report is that while oil is a non-renewable resource, fish is renewable. This means that in comparing the benefits from drilling the marine ecosystem of Belize, it is important that in the short term, possibly larger benefits from oil drilling should not be allowed to trump benefits that, if well-managed and protected, are capable of continuing to flow through time, benefiting all generations.
The result of the work reported in this contribution, which is based on a broad collaboration between scientists, civil society members and managers, serves as a good example of how to produce policy relevant research that serves societal goals and objectives.
I commend the authors of the report for producing a significant piece of research that has a strong potential to contribute positively to policy making in Belize.
Full article can be accessed at: Too Precious to Drill: the Marine Biodiversity of Belize. Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia