It appears that every day there is a wildfire-type issue for the Barrow Administration to put out. Some days it is land scandals, other days it is hustling by senior Government officials. Today the issue became the Multi Beam Seismic Survey near areas of sensitive nature – we’re talking about 10 miles from the Blue Hole and a short distance from the Lighthouse Reef and Atolls. The seismic activity was approved by the Cabinet and given the green light by the Department of Environment. But there was no environmental impact study carried out and not even any type of consultation with authorities, actually not even a slight warning. This stirred up environmental groups over the past days and raised suspicion over the Government’s plans. Today, things came to a boiling point when a public meeting on the island San Pedro turned into a shouting affair against Government officials who were attempting to explain. To calm down those in attendance, the Minister of Tourism Manuel Herredia promised that he would immediately take the concerns to the Prime Minister and that a decision on whether to halt the project would be taken urgently. Well, considering the pressure that the Government is on these days it only took the Prime Minister a few hours to reconsider and issue this press release, indicating that the seismic operation would be suspended.
The short press release read: [quote] “Based on multiple concerns raised by concerned citizens regarding the seismic survey currently being conducted in the deep offshore of Belize as well as the fact that extensive consultation with a wider ground of stakeholders did not occur prior the commencement of the survey, the Government of Belize (GOB) has decided that it will suspend seismic operations until such consultations can be conducted. Accordingly, the Geology and Petroleum Department will inform the ship that they are to cease seismic operations immediately.” [end quote]
So the Environmentalists have won Round one of this battle, but considering that the Government had proceeded with this proposal arbitrarily, it is left to see how long the suspension will last, especially since each day the ship is in Belize, it incurs costs.
As for the ship which is moored along Belize’s waters, a local committee will be monitoring its activities to ensure that it stays out of commission.
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