An offshore drilling ban is set to come into effect on the 31st January 2016, stopping both drilling and seismic activity offshore Belize.
The ban has put the country inline with the wishes of UNESCO. The organisation had awarded a large swathe of the Belize barrier reef a world heritage site in 1996.
Now known as The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage area, it is is recognised as the world’s second largest reef system, and the largest in the northern hemisphere.
However, UNESCO has also place the reef system onto its list of Wold Heritage In Danger.
Offshore Drilling Ban
After pressure from UNESCO the Belize government have voted to, stop all offshore drilling and offshore seismic activity once current licences expire and to, ban all future activity around its barrier reef.
This will be marked by the new law coming into effect on the 31st January 2016. From then on, the ban will cover the area covering both the reef and a 1km wide tract either side, which will total 1,316 square miles (3408 sqkm).
A statement by the Belizean government, said, that its Cabinet had further agreed that any offshore drilling or offshore seismic activity outside of the newly banned zones would not automatically be allowed.
In a statement, UNESCO said: “The decision is a major first step forward in the government’s efforts to remove Belize Barrier Reef from the List of World Heritage in Danger.”
“Following an IUCN-WHC mission to Belize last January, the government of Belize agreed on an ambitious 3-year roadmap that sets out the Desired State of Conservation for removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger.”
“A permanent ban on oil in the World Heritage area and its surrounding zones with a functional ecological connection to the property is anticipated by 31 January 2016,”