Belizeans seem to understand this truth. Just this past year, Belize became one of two countries in the entire world to ban all forms of destructive trawling in its waters. Last December I visited Belize to celebrate the passing of this progressive legislation and I have to say I was blown away by this country and its people. Passing this law has helped to protect the world’s second largest reef and has set a precedent for the rest of the world.
But on the heels of this victory, like any other, we can’t let up. Now, Belizeans are faced with a new challenge: oil drilling exploration scheduled to take place within the Belize Barrier Reef, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Belize’s natural resources—and marine life such as whale sharks and dolphins—could be irreversibly damaged without its citizens seeing a cent. For a country with such a thriving tourism economy, this would be quite costly. But with a little hard work from those of you who love the oceans, this doesn’t have to ever be a reality.
So what can you do about it? The answer is simple: A lot! Making better ocean policy has huge impacts on the oceans but, unfortunately, policymakers don’t hear from us enough. So start writing emails, letters, and tweets, or pick up your phone to make a call. Telling your decision makers how special and important the oceans are to you can make a huge impact.
This is tough work, I know. I’ve been doing it for 25 years. So trust me when I say that it must be done with a light heart. Go to the beach, swim, boat, fish, eat a great piece of seafood—whatever it is you enjoy most about Belize. Connect with the Caribbean Sea and remember why you love it. Start from a place of joy. It’s the only way we stand a chance.
Actor Ted Danson is on the board of directors at Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. To get involved go to oceana.org/act.