Belmopan, Belize. September 14th, 2016. At the Invitation of United States of America Secretary of State John Kerry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize, Honourable Wilfred Elrington, will attend the third annual Our Ocean Conference, held in Washington, D.C. Taking place from the 15-16th September 2016, in conjunction with Georgetown Unive…rsity’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Sustainable Ocean’s alliance, the conference aims to “inspire and empower a new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and civil society to identify solutions and commit to actions to protect and conserve our oceans and its resources.”
The Our Ocean Conference encompasses many pertinent issues relating to Belize such as marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries. Some of the major challenges to fisheries in Belize involve illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Our nation’s waters currently experience illegal fishing and exportation of products to neighboring countries, accounting for almost 15% of national fisheries. Varying initiatives have been undertaken by the Government of Belize to curb this issue, such as the introduction of a Managed Access management system, wherein fishers choose two of nine fishing areas where they are expected to remain in the future. Additionally, the Belize Fisheries Department has enhanced its enforcement capabilities through increased training of personnel, the testing of new technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), among others, which aims to ultimately reduce costs on patrols.
Moreover, international cooperation remains at the helm of facilitating real and lasting change. The Foreign Minister’s attendance of the Our Ocean Conference provides a necessary platform to open dialogue on these issues affecting Belize, as well as the rest of the world. As demonstrated by the conference since its inception, the global community is well aware of the threats facing our oceans and its resources and the need for organized action. Honourable Wilfred Elrington departed country on Tuesday and will return on Saturday.