In December 2017, the Parliament of Belize passed legislation that will effectively ban oil exploration and extraction in Belize’s maritime waters:
Belize, home of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, permanently suspended oil activity in its ocean waters. The legislation marks the first time that a developing country has taken such a major step to protect its oceans—and all the life within—from oil exploration and extraction.
The new suspension of oil activity marks an enormous win for the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site, the wildlife that live there, and the hundreds of thousands of Belizeans who rely on the reef for survival.
[B]oth the Government of Belize and the opposition have supported the legislation which puts a ban on offshore oil drilling in Belize.
The Senate debated and passed the Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Bill 2017 this week, effectively making it an offense to conduct oil exploration or extraction activities in Belize’s territorial waters. The act also prescribes a fine of up to $3 million, imprisonment of up to two years, or a combination sentence for anyone who commits an offense under the act.
“As a nation, we would never have gotten to this point were it not for the enduring participation of the Belizean people. That engagement reflects the national consciousness that we are ‘people of the reef’. We will ensure that the world knows that the Government and people of Belize are serious about safeguarding our heritage and protecting our collective future from the reality of offshore oil,” said Janelle Chanona, vice president for Oceana.