Belize to become focus of dolphin and whale study – Fishupdate.com
Belize to become focus of dolphin and whale study Published: 15 May, 2007
TO help understand the marine environment around Belize, Marinelife, a UK based national marine conservation research charity, has instigated a marine research project around its coastline, due to commence this month.
For many, Belize sounds like a far flung exotic destination, but few can put their finger on its exact location and think of a reason to spend a holiday there. Those that do know its location are unlikely to be aware that its coastal and offshore waters could offer enthusiasts a myriad of marine wildlife experiences and with careful management, could become a well known destination for responsible marine ecotourism.
Clive Martin, Marinelife Director, Chairman and Senior Wildlife Officer, who will lead the research effort, said: Very little is known about the diversity of marine wildlife within the waters off Belize, yet it is known that there are some local marine wildlife based viewing trips in operation.
Marinelifes planned research has received special permission from the government of Belize, who have declared the region a marine protected area, an important move aimed at protecting the welfare of the marine ecosystem. The research will investigate whale and dolphin abundance within the region using standard survey protocols, the occurrence of other large marine species such as Whalesharks and the potential impact the local operators could be having on the wildlife occurring around the reef systems and in offshore waters.
Dr Tom Brereton, Marinelife Director and Chief Scientific Officer said: It is hoped that the planned research will help in the development of tourism protocols which will make the developing industry sustainable for the future welfare of both the local human and marine animal populations.
Marinelife will be meeting with representatives of the Belize government with responsibility for fisheries during the research visit to reinforce the importance of maintaining the moratorium on commercial whaling, which will once again be discussed at the forthcoming International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.
As a country with a large coastline and potential for a great diversity of marine wildlife, the Belize vote at the IWC meeting will be important to the future of whales and dolphins globally. The research conducted by Marinelife will help inform the government of the value of protecting this precious natural resource for their local economy.
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