The tiny nation of Belize took a giant step today in the global effort to safeguard the oceans by banning all forms of trawling in the country’s waters.
For years, Belize, a popular Caribbean yacht charter destination, ignored international calls to ban the destructive fishing gear. But when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently threatened to strip the Belize Barrier Reef of its World Heritage Site status, the government took notice.
Facing UNESCO sanctions, Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration negotiated the buy-out of the country’s commercial shrimp trawlers and initiated a ban on all future trawling.
Shrimp trawls are notorious for the amount of bycatch they haul in. Thousands of sea turtles, marine mammals, and untargeted fish are caught in shrimp trawlers around the world every year. Meanwhile, bottom trawlers’ weighted nets effectively raze the ocean floor with every pass, destroying sensitive corals and anything else in their way.
Particularly at risk is the Belize Barrier Reef, which is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest coral reef system in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The reef is a destination for sailors, divers, and snorkelers around the world.
Both bareboat and crewed catamaran charters have increased significantly in recent years along the coast of Belize. While the appeal of a Virgin Islands yacht charter is still strong, seasoned sailors and vacationers seeking less-crowded anchorages have discovered the unspoiled charm of the Belize Barrier Reef.
With this ban, which goes into effect December 31st, Belize becomes one of the first countries in the world to institute a complete and permanent ban on trawling in all its waters.
To book your own yacht charter odyssey along the Belize Barrier Reef, contact a charter specialist at SailAway.
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