It was revealed that the Protect Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) is to grant Hol Chan Marine Reserve $199,500. Â PACT gave out six grants to help organizations ensure that continued conservation of specific areas remained. Â On Monday October 7th, the Belize City House of Culture hosted an award ceremony where the grant was officially given to the Ambergris Caye Marine Reserve.
There are many things to do on Ambergris Caye, and diving is a popular activity for those who want to explore beneath the pristine waters of the coast. Â It is, therefore, vital that these marine habitats are protected and kept as natural as possible.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Forest, Fisheries and Sustainable Development minister, Lisel Alamilla, said that PACT was a fantastic governmental tool that allows funds to reach the right places. Â ÂIt is extremely vital to ensure that the government contributes to the management of BelizeÂs protected areas and PACT is the mechanism that we use for the distribution of government funds, really to the NGOs (non-profit government organizations) that partner with us, in sustainably managing our natural resources and engaging the stakeholders such as the fisher folks,Â she said.
Ms. Alamilla added that the day was a particularly special occasion as it was the first time in 17 years that PACT visited and awarded a grant in such a way.
Through the Belize Fisheries Department project, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve conducts a variety of work, including environmental monitoring, education and reserve research initiatives. Â The grant will support the marineÂs focus on ensuring that biological and social-economic integrity is kept. Â Reserve Manager, Miguel Alamilla, said that theyÂd been holding a number of consultations on expansion for quite a while. Â The focus of these discussions has been on the Mata and Cayo Frances Lagoons wetland areas, the Mexico Rocks region and the leeward side of Ambergris Caye.
In addition to the marine reserve grants, other small funds were provided to the Sarteneja Fishermen Association and the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation of Development. Â Research grants were also given to Wilber Martinez for work on the Ecology of Conservation of the BairdÂs Tapir and Alex Anderson for research on the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve Queen Conch.