Belize, a tiny Central American nation nestled beside the Caribbean Sea, is making giant strides in its ocean conservation efforts. In the short space of a month, the government made two big decisions to help protect its oceans: it expanded an existing marine reserve to cover an ecologically important reef complex, and initiated the process of establishing a nationwide ban on gillnet fishing.
The first decision came in the first week of August. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s minister of fisheries, forestry, environment and sustainable development, signed off on a decision that will expand Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, a region off the coast of southeastern Belize, to seven times its original size. The reserve is now 1,300 square kilometers (500 square miles), which is about 60 times as big as the Pacific island nation of Nauru.