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Belize Country Profile
Legislative and institutional framework governing the protection of coral reefs

(1) Overview of legislation and institutions
(2) Designation and management of marine protected areas (MPAs)
  –  Co-management of fisheries, marine reserves, and other protected areas
(3) Laws providing explicit protections for coral and other marine life
  –  Table of restricted and prohibited activities
  –  Legal requirements for nongovernmental research and restoration projects
  –  Use of fisheries observers
(4) Regulatory enforcement in the context of marine environments
(5) Coastal zone development and environmental impact assessment (EIA)
Enforcement of coastal zone development and EIA requirements
(6) Other legislation: land-based and marine pollution
(7) Multilateral Environmental Agreements

1. Overview of legislation and institutions
Belize has taken significant strides in recent years to bolster the protection of its vast section of the Mesoamerican Reef—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—through the overhaul of key pieces of legacy legislation and the recent expansion of marine territory designated as rehabilitation (no-take) zones from 4.5 percent to 11.6 percent of its territorial waters.1 In 2017, Belize took the extraordinary step of declaring a moratorium on offshore petroleum exploration in its territorial waters. In addition, Belizean legislation has created formal mechanisms for incorporating NGOs and local stakeholder groups as co-participants in the management, rehabilitation, and monitoring of marine ecosystems.2 Given the severe decline in the health of the country's coral reefs due to climate-induced factors, these efforts are critically important.3

Like many countries in the region, Belize has approached coral reef conservation primarily by establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) and prohibiting the taking or disturbing marine life in certain zones within these areas.4 Although Belize adopted framework environmental legislation in 2000, the conservation and protection of coastal zone and marine habitats are primarily governed by three other laws that have interrelated functions with respect to sustainable use of the environment.5 Working in conjunction with these laws is a set of regulations that are specific to each of the country's marine protected areas.6

The Cabinet of Belize was reorganized in 2020, placing the Fisheries Department under a separate ministry from the country's three coastal zone management bodies: the Coastal Zone Management Authority, the Coastal Zone Management Institute and the Coastal Zone Advisory Council, as well as the Forest Department, and Department of the Environment.7

a. The National Protected Areas System Act, No. 17 of 2015 (NPASA) was enacted in order that Belize can maintain, through coordinated management, a national system of protected areas that is:

[R]epresentative of internationally agreed categories, effectively managed, ecologically based, consistent with international law, and based on best available scientific information and principles of sustainable development for the economic, social and environmental benefit of present and future generations of Belize... 8

A distinctive feature of the NPASA (and Belize's approach to environmental governance in general) is its provision for the co-management of natural resources between government and nongovernmental bodies. In addition, NPASA established a participatory procedure for proposing and designating MPAs, which is described in detail below.9 NPASA also mandated the adoption of an overarching National Protected Areas System (NPAS), to be supported by the National Protected Areas System Plan (NPASP).10 The NPASP has been broadened since the original version adopted in 2006, which focused primarily on the conservation of biological diversity.11 The Plan now strives to manage the network of protected areas in a holistic, integrated manner, recognizing the fundamental role that protected areas play in advancing the national economic development goals of Belize.12 In addition, the NPASP highlights the need for greater public participation and collaboration between the government, the private sector, civil society, and those who rely on natural resources for their livelihoods.

The NPASA created a new statutory body, the National Protected Areas Advisory Council, whose purpose is to advise the Minister responsible for the NPAS concerning the development of partnerships with co-managers and stakeholders for the participatory management of natural resources, developing the necessary framework for building multi-disciplinary capacity, ensuring inter-agency coordination, meeting the country's obligations under international and regional conventions, and providing for the maintenance and expansion of the NPAS, among others.13

The NPAS includes nine Marine Reserves (the official term for MPAs under Belize law) which are managed by the Fisheries Department. Each marine reserve may consist of multiple defined zones in which fishing, recreational, and other uses are permitted, as well as zones designated for a variety conservation uses, including "no-take" (replenishment) zones. Section 12 of the FRA states that the Minister may, through an Order published in the Gazette and on the recommendation of the Fisheries Council, close a specific area, fishery, stock, or species of fish to be closed to fishing to prevent further depletion, promote recovery and ecosystems services, or to protect critical habitats. ]14 Uses falling under the purview of conservation include sustainable tourism, research, and education. In addition, the Fisheries Department has established 11 protected Spawning Aggregation Sites, as well as two zones that provide seasonal protection for Nassau grouper.15 Finally, many marine preserves allow the issuance of special licenses to traditional fishermen to continue fishing using traditional methods.16

The current marine reserves in Belize are:

  1. Bacalar Chico
  2. Hol Chan
  3. Caye Caulker
  4. Turneffe Atoll
  5. South Water Caye
  6. Glover's Reef
  7. Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes
  8. Port Honduras
  9. Sapodilla Cayes

Other marine protected areas:
In addition to marine preserves, the National Protected Areas System includes five other MPAs: Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Corozal Bay (Wildlife Sanctuary I), Swallows Caye, (Wildlife Sanctuary I), Blue Hole Natural Monument, and Half Moon Caye (Natural Monument).

b. The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), an earlier piece of legislation, also plays a central role in the protection of coral reefs and other coastal habitats.17 The CZMA established the Coastal Zone Management Authority ("CZM Authority"), an autonomous government institution whose broad mandate includes, among other functions, advising the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration ("the Minister responsible for the NPAS") on "all matters relating to the development and utilization of the coastal zone," assisting in the development and implementation of programs and projects that ensure sustainable coastal zone use; fostering regional and international collaboration; reviewing and executing the Coastal Zone Management Plan; commissioning research and monitoring; promoting public awareness; and coordinating with other government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector in preparing guidelines for coastal zone development.18

In addition to creating the CZM Authority, the CZMA creates a Coastal Zone Management Institute (CZMI), which is responsible for, inter alia, conducting research and development on the marine environment of Belize, the Caribbean, and adjacent regions; maintaining a central repository for information on the coastal zone; providing support for university courses and educational programs; studying the multiple uses of the coastal zone; and balancing development goals in a sustainable manner.19 Unlike the meaning of "coastal zone" used in many countries to denote a strip of coastal land as well as sea, § 2 of the CZMA defines the coastal zone as:

[T]he area bounded by the shoreline up to the mean high-water mark on its landward side and by the outer limit of the territorial sea on its seaward side, including all coastal waters.

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c. The Fisheries Resources Act, No. 7, 2020 (FRA) is a sweeping, newly-enacted piece of legislation that repealed and replaced the Fisheries Act (Rev. 2000), which had conflicted in a number of ways with other laws applicable to the management of protected areas.20 The FRA retains the Fisheries Department as the lead agency, but redefines its mandate, which includes conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources (including regional cooperation), issuing fishing licenses, research, and fisheries law enforcement, among others.21 It is headed by the Fisheries Administrator.22 The Act also created the Fisheries Council, an advisory body charged with making recommendations to the Minister on matters relating to the conservation, oversight, and use of fisheries; fisheries policy development; the monitoring and review of management guidelines, measures, and plans for conserving marine ecosystems; the coordination of fisheries policies with other government agencies; and all other matters requiring coordination and cooperation.23

The FRA elaborates rules for licensing fishing activities (defined broadly), procedures for monitoring and enforcing fishing rules and regulations, and penalties for violations of this and all other laws pertinent to the scope of the FRA. In addition, the FRA gives authority to the Minister to make regulations covering a broad range of topics and measures in order to implement the provisions of the Act.24 The FRA elaborates twenty-six topical areas for which the Minister may promulgate regulations under this provision, including, inter alia, conditions for the issuance of fishing licenses, regulating or prohibiting SCUBA diving, the introduction of non-native species, the use of underwater filming equipment, mariculture, user fees, and penalties.25 Violations of regulations made under these provisions may carry a maximum penalty of 150,000 Belizean Dollars and/or one year imprisonment.26

Although the unauthorized taking, harming, or disturbance of corals is encompassed in the FRA's broad scope, its primary focus is on the intentional acts and activities of persons and entities involved in commercial, traditional, or recreational fishing. However, it imposes strict liability for FRA violations and prosecutors need not prove that offenses were intentional.27

The FRA does not directly address negligent or reckless acts that harm coral reefs and result from pollution and other impacts of from land- and marine-based activities that take place outside the boundaries of MPAs. Instead, these issues are covered in MPA-specific regulations and other legislation, such as the Environmental Protection Act (Rev. 2011), the Effluent Limitations (Amendment) Regulations, (2009), the Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act (2017), and the Forests (Protection of Mangroves) Regulations, 1989. (see Other legislation: land-based and marine pollution below).28

2. Designation, regulation, and management of marine protected areas (MPAs)
The NPASA empowers the Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management to declare, alter, re-classify, or revoke protected areas and establishes a statutory procedural process for making these designations.29 In addition, NPASA creates thirteen classifications of protected areas, nine of which are applicable to marine environments. Collectively, all the established terrestrial and aquatic protected areas in Belize comprise the National Protected Areas System (NPAS).30

Categories of marine protected areas include:31 (See Endnote for definitions)

  1. National parks,
  2. Nature reserves,
  3. Wildlife sanctuaries, Types 1 and 2
  4. Natural monuments,
  5. Marine reserves,
  6. Private protected areas,
  7. Spawning aggregation sites, and
  8. Scenic seascapes of geomorphic significance.

While the competent Minister (currently the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management) has authority for declaring most categories of protected areas, the NPASA permits other competent ministries to declare certain types of protected areas. Section 15 of NPASA states that "The Minister by Statutory Instrument (Order) published in the Gazette may declare an area of land in Belize to be a protected area; except for an area of land in Belize that may be so lawfully declared as a protected area, by any other Minister under another enactment." [Emphasis added]. The Minister of The Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, which includes the Fisheries Department) is empowered under the NPASA and the Fisheries Resources Act, 2000, to declare of marine reserves .32

Once MPAs have been formally designated, the Fisheries Department has authority for administering all but four types of marine protected areas.33 The Chief Forest Officer of the Forest Department, an agency currently under the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management, is responsible for regulatory oversight of national parks, nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, and natural monuments, including those that encompass marine areas.34

The Minister responsible for the Blue Economy has broad authority for promulgating regulations that apply to marine reserves. Under the FRA, the Minister may make regulations the general management of marine and inland water reserves; user fees, research permits and permit fees, and the development and adoption of management plans, which must include:

(aa) Physical, biological, socio-economic and cultural aspects of the marine or inland water reserve;
(bb) Conservation and management objectives; and
(cc) Management programmes.[FRA § 17(a)(i)–(v). ]

Declaration (or alteration, re-classification, or revocation) of a protected area
under the National Protected Areas Systems Act (NPASA)

Before the Minister responsible for the NPAS may declare a new protected area, the Minister must undertake an integrated assessment of ecological, social, and economic status of the area, prepare a preliminary management plan, and conduct any other studies deemed relevant.35 Once these have been implemented, the declaration process follows the steps below.

(NPASA § 17)                              Seeking and considering advice
The Minister responsible for the type of proposed protected area must seek and take into consideration the advice of the Director of the Geology and Petroleum Department and the Head of the Mining Unit regarding the petroleum and mineral potential of the proposed area.
(NPASA § 14)                               Evaluation and preliminary planning
The Minister carries out an integrated assessment of the ecological, social, and economic status of the area, potential impacts, and its contribution to the NPAS; prepares a preliminary management plan, and any other studies the Minister deems necessary.
(NPASA § 19(1)-(4))                                     Public participation
1. Public notice: The Minister shall publish notice of the intended action in two leading national newspapers, the government Gazette, and two national radio stations, informing members of the public how they may submit written comments or objections to the proposal within 60 days.

2. Consultative process: The Minister shall ensure a consultative process with nearby communities and affected parties and must give due consideration to all representations received or presented, including community observations. In "appropriate circumstances," any interested person may provide oral representations or objections.
(NPASA § 19(5))                               Decision and declaration
After due consideration of public comments (but not being bound by them), the Minister makes an independent decision on whether to declare, alter, re-classify, or revoke a protected area within the prescribed timeframe. The declaration enters into force by the Minister issuing an Order published in the government Gazette.

Adoption of final plan and implementation
Following the formal declaration of a protected area, the Minister must prepare a final management plan for the area in accordance with the National Management Plan Framework and establish regulations specific to the area.36 Consistent with the participatory approach followed in Belize, the Minister may enter into co-management agreements with NGOs, other organizations, local communities, or other parties for the co-management of the area following a public consultation process.37

Co-management of fisheries, marine reserves, and other protected areas
Co-management agreements may contain arrangements that include, inter alia, details concerning the delegation of authority by the public managing entity to the co-managing party, the use of and access to biological resources in the area, the development of economic opportunities (such as eco-tourism) in and adjacent to the protected area, the development of local management capacity, and financial support measures.38 The NPASA provides that the co-management agreement must not lead to the duplication or fragmentation of management functions and prescribes rules for supervision by a government managing entity to ensure that co-management organizations fulfill their delegated responsibilities.39

Co-management is also addressed under the Fisheries Resources Act, 2020.40 In the case of marine reserves, co-management entities may include NGOs, fishing cooperatives, fishing organizations, local communities, or other groups.41 In order to enter into co-management arrangements with any entity, that entity must meet the following criteria:

  • Have the capacity to co-manage the fishery or marine reserve.
  • Implement the management plan for the fishery or marine reserve.
  • Prepare or periodically update the management plan in consultation with the Fisheries Administrator.
  • Comply with any other requirements consistent with the purposes of the delegated responsibilities.

Establishing fisheries areas and marine reserves under the Fisheries Resources Act
The FRA empowers the Minister to declare any area of fisheries waters as a fishery area, marine reserve, or inland water reserve in order to provide special protection to fauna and flora, breeding and nursery grounds; to replenish marine life where depletion has occurred; to sustain livelihoods based on fisheries; to promote research and scientific study; or enhance biodiversity.42 The Minister (currently the Minister of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation and separate from the Minister responsible for the NPAS) is subject to the same procedural requirements as those in Sections 14, 17, and 19 of NPASA.43 Similar to the declaration process detailed in the flow chart above, the Minister must ensure that a public consultation process is carried out (in this case, with stakeholders having an interest in the proposed area, including local residents who are reliant on the area for their livelihoods.44

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3. Laws providing explicit protections for coral and other marine life
Inclusion of corals within a broad definition of fish and fishing
Under the Fisheries Resources Act (FRA), the term "fish" is defined broadly to include to include "the whole or any part...of any aquatic animal...and includes aquatic flora".45 It includes, but is not limited to crustaceans, echinoderms, and mollusks (and their exoskeletons, eggs, and larvae), all species of corals, marine mammals, and turtles.46 Similarly, "fishing" is defined broadly to include "catching or taking fish by any method" and includes, inter alia searching for or attempting to search for, catch, or take "fish," engaging in activities that may result in the taking of fish, bio-prospecting, and transshipping fish to and from any vessel for any purpose.

Fishing and licensing requirements under the Fisheries Resources Act
The FRA requires licenses for a number of fishing activities, including, among others, commercial and recreational fishing, mariculture and the aquarium trade, fish processing, and research.47 In addition, it empowers the Minister to make regulations requiring licenses for additional activities.48 Licensed fishing is only permitted within "managed access" areas and FRA-designated areas that have been specified in the license.49 The Fisheries Administrator may attach specific conditions to any fishing license or, at any time, vary the conditions to advance the proper regulation of a fishing area.50 Finally, the Fisheries Administrator may cancel or suspend and license or category of licenses when necessary for the management of a fishing area or a violation by a license holder.51

General and MPA-specific fisheries regulations
When the FRA repealed and replaced its predecessor, the Fisheries Act, Cap 210, Rev. 2000, it also repealed many, but not all, provisions of the fisheries regulations promulgated under the earlier legislation. Section 91(1) of the FRA (Conflict of Laws) states that:

[W]henever the provisions of this Act or of any subsidiary legislation made under this Act are in conflict with any other law, rule or regulation relating to the management of fisheries resources and distant water fishing and matters related to both, the provisions of this Act and any subsidiary legislation made under the Act shall prevail.

Nevertheless, Section 93 states that all regulations, by-laws, rules, orders, and other subsidiary legislation made under repealed acts, to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the FRA, will remain in force until repealed by new regulations, by-laws, rules, orders, and other subsidiary legislation made under the Fisheries Resources Act. Therefore, legacy fisheries regulations must be read in conjunction with the FRA to determine which provisions are not preempted.

Record-keeping (logbook) requirements
The FRA charges the Fisheries Administrator with requiring operators of authorized fishing boats to keep a record on board of their activities in any area where fishing is authorized.52 The FA must determine the information that a master or member of the crew must record in the record book (e.g., species, number, weight). If stopped by a Fisheries Officer during their fishing activities, the operators are required to provide the records (or information from them).53

Several marine reserve regulations also contain reporting requirements. For example, Port Honduras and the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve regulations require that all commercial, recreational and sport fishermen render the weight of fish caught within the Reserve to the Reserve Rangers upon request.54 The Hol Chan Marine Reserve regulations do not specify which records must be kept, but states that fishermen using Zone D must submit catch data to the staff of the reserve upon request.55

Prohibited acts under the FRA and fisheries regulations
The FRA establishes prohibitions that apply to persons within any marine reserve in Belize. Section 15(1) of the FRA provides that a person who engages in any of the following activities commits an offense if they do so without a license granted by a Fisheries Administrator or other authorization:

(a) fishes, or attempts to fish;
(b) takes or destroys any flora or fauna ;
(c) dredges, extracts coral, sand or gravel, discharges or deposits waste or any other polluting matter, or in any way disturbs, alters or destroys the natural environment;
(d) constructs or erects any buildings or other structures on or over any land or waters within such a reserve; or
(e) commits any act or takes action which is in violation of this law or any other law relating to marine or inland water reserves.56

Similarly, Section 88 of the FRA prohibits anyone from taking or having in their possession any fish (defined broadly to include corals) listed in the Schedule of prohibited species appended to the FRA. The mere possession of coral or other prohibited marine life provides a rebuttable presumption that the possessor has committed an offense. The Minister may amend the Schedule of prohibited species at any time by issuing an Order that is published in the official Gazette.57 Section 88(3) provides a limited exception for parties that have received written authorization from the Fisheries Administrator to take and/or possess prohibited species while conducting research or for "traditional or cultural use."58

The FRA also establishes a generalized prohibition on the trade of prohibited species listed in the Schedule. Under Section 89, a person that engages in either of the following acts, personally or through an agent, commits an offense if the person:

  1. on his own account, or as partner, agent or employee of another person, attempts to, or lands, imports, transports, sells, receives, acquires, or purchases; or
  2. causes or permits a person acting on his behalf, or uses a fishing vessel, to attempt to, or land, import, transport, sells receive, acquire, or purchase.   [Emphasis added]

MPA-specific requirements and restrictions
Each of the nine marine reserves in Belize has its own set of regulations that apply specifically to the reserve, with many rules that are differentiated for each zone in the reserve. Generally speaking, the organization of regulatory provisions follow a common format. Most marine reserve regulations use a standardized nomenclature for categories of zones, with usually minor variations in the prescribed rules and restrictions. In the Hol Chan reserve, zones are denoted by letters (Zone A, Zone B,...), while the others are denoted by commonly-used names (General Use Zone, Conservation I Zone, Conservation II Zone, and Preservation or Wilderness Zone (most restrictive). Likewise, common sets of provisions (e.g., diving rules) often share common section numbers within the regulations.

The regulations cover many issues that affect the health of coral reefs, while specifying rules that apply to SCUBA diving and snorkeling, dive guides, commercial and sport fishing, research, and other classes of use. Unlike the FRA, the regulations specifically address negligent or careless acts that can cause physical damage to coral and other marine life (e.g., allowing a boat anchor to drag on a reef or touching coral with diving gloves). The regulations specify mandatory procedures for reporting accidents (to reefs or property) when these occur. The regulations also restrict aspects of marine reserve use such as the type of fishing gear that may be used, the maximum number of SCUBA divers that may visit a reef at a given time, the length of vessels permitted in a zone, and the demarcation of zones with buoys and GPS coordinates. Finally, the regulations prescribe reserve-specific penalties for violations of their provisions.

Table of restricted and prohibited activities
Prohibited activities within marine protected areas
(If official authorization has not been obtained)
Laws and Regulations
Entry into a Wilderness or Preservation (closed) Zone (Hol Can & Caye Caulker) MR regulations
Use of a prohibited type of vessel, water skiing, or violating diving restrictions MR regulations
Fishing without a license or violating license conditions FRA §§ 29-31; MR regulations
Fishing in a no-take zone FRA § 12; MR regulations
Fishing with unauthorized fishing gear or methods FRA § 38(1) & (2); MR regulations
Use of explosives or poison to hunt or kill fish FRA § 37(1)
Taking, harming, or destroying coral or marine life MR regulations
Dredging, extracting sand or gravei, or otherwise disturbing the seabed MR regulations
Anchoring or mooring other than at an authorized buoy or dock MR regulations
Damaging coral with an anchor or vessel grounding EPA § 29(1)(a); MR regulations
Use of prohibited diving gear (e.g., gloves) or practices (e.g., more divers than permitted) MR regulations
Prohibited anywhere within the territorial waters of Belize:
Fishing or attempting to fish without a license FRA § 19, MR regulations
Liability of the master of vessel for violations by crew members or passengers FRA §§ 67 & 68
Engaging in research without authorization or in violation of conditions FRA §§ 20(1)(f), 35; MR regulations
Discharging waste and pollutants into the water (sewage, trash, petroleum products, chemicals, or other waste) EPA §§ 11 & 12, ELR, and MR regulations
Removal or trade of species listed in the FRA Schedule or endangered species FRA § 88, CITES

Abbreviations used above: MR = marine reserve; FRA = Fisheries Resources Act, 2020; NPASA = National Protected Areas System Act, No. 17 of 2015; CZMA = Coastal Zone Management Act, CAP. 329, 2000; ELR = Effluent Limitations (Amendment) Regulations, 2009.

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Legal requirements for nongovernmental research and restoration projects
Research organizations must obtain authorization from the Fisheries Administrator (FA) if they wish to undertake scientific research in any marine reserve or other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the Fisheries Department.59 Section 4 of the FRA clarifies that "research," as used in FRA text, refers to research undertaken for commercial purposes.60 Although the regulations for each marine reserve also contain requirements for obtaining research authorization, these contain similar conditions and are preempted by the FRA where there is any conflict.61 In order to apply for research authorization, they must submit a research plan to the FA, who may attach conditions to approval of the research.62 Nongovernment research staff must comply with all conditions imposed by the FA (such as the sharing of research benefits, the attribution of data, and reporting requirements), as well as with other applicable laws. Violations of research authorization conditions result in a mandatory fine of between $5,000 and $100,000 Belizean Dollars upon summary conviction.63

Use of fisheries observers
The FRA provides for the use of observers to monitor and ensure that persons licensed to engage in fishing undertake their work "in accordance with any fishery management plan, treaty, [or] international conservation and management measure" in cases where the use of observers has been certified under the terms of such plan, treaty, or measure. Under the FRA, the duties and functions of fishery observers are as follows:

  1. Boarding and remaining on assigned vessels at a specified time and place;
  2. Holding, processing, weighing, and storing fish;
  3. Inspecting and copying records;
  4. Inspecting fishing gear;
  5. Inspecting navigation and radio equipment;
  6. Taking fish samples;
  7. Photographing fishing operations and providing them to fisheries authorities
  8. Sending and receiving messages via the vessel's communications equipment;
  9. Gathering other information required by licenses and authorizations;
  10. Conducting scientific observation of fish.64

The master and crew of each vessel must permit assigned observers to perform their functions, comply with their instructions, and assist them as necessary.65 Observers must be allowed full access to and use of the facilities and equipment on board and must be provided with meals, sleeping accommodations, and medical assistance at no cost to the government, while assuring observers' personal safety.66 It is an offense for the master and/or crew of a fishing vessel to obstruct, threaten, insult, or fail to cooperate with an observer in the performance of their duties.67

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4. Regulatory enforcement in the context of marine environments
a. Enforcement authorities under the Fisheries Resources Act, 2020
Section 5 of the FRA specifies a range of actors who are designated as Fisheries Officers—and qualified to enforce FRA provisions—as an intrinsic part to their government roles, as well as other public officers who may serve in an enforcement capacity as a result of specific authorizations by the Minister, subject to additional requirements.68 The FRA also designates several types of non-government actors who may be specially authorized the participate as enforcement authorities, including community leaders, local fishing cooperatives, and NGOs.69 The table below indicates the categories of actors who may be deemed Fisheries Officers under the FRA's provisions:

Persons deemed to be Fisheries Officers
Category of persons with intrinsic or potential enforcement authority Qualifying conditions
The Fisheries Administrator, all Senior Fisheries Officers, Fisheries Officers,
and Assistant Fisheries Officers
None (statutory fisheries officers under FRA § 5(1))
Officers of the Conservation Compliance Unit & officers of the Marine Reserves
Officers of the Marine Reserves
Customs officers, members of the National Coast Guard Service,
and police officers
None (statutory fisheries officers under FRA § 5(6))
Other public officers designated (by name or office) by the Minister Must be acting on the recommendation of the Fisheries Administrator (FRA § 5(2))
Members of a management committee of a local fishing cooperative Must be acting on the recommendation of the Fisheries Administrator AND by Order published in the Gazette
(FRA § 5(3))
Duly elected members of a city, town, or village council
Employees of a locally registered non-governmental organization with which the Minister has entered into a co-management agreement.

b. Authority to enter and search vessels, vehicles, and premises
The FRA empowers a Fisheries Officer to undertake the following actions at any time in order to monitor compliance with the FRA:

(a) Stop, enter, board, or examine any vessel, vehicle, or premises and/or examine any record, document, gear, or device, or its contents;
(b) Stop any person and examine any record, document, gear, or device, or fish that person' possession;
(c) Pass across any land; or
(d) Board, and inspect any fishing vessel in any port located in Belize.70

If a Fisheries Officer has reasonable grounds to suspect the commission of an offense against the FRA and that any of the three categories of evidence below is concealed or located in any vessel, vehicle, place, container, or thing, the officer may enter and search for evidence, opening any closed places and compartments as necessary.71

  • Any fish taken or any object that was used or is intended to be used to commit an offense.
  • Any record or information that the FRA requires to be kept, completed, or provided to authorities.
  • Any record, document, or item which there is reasonable grounds to believe will provide evidence of an FRA violation.

Fisheries Officers may detain any persons, vessels, or things as long as is reasonably necessary to perform a search, properly securing any detained vessel or thing if the search must be carried out over a period of days.72 The Officers may, at any time, question persons who have been detained and require them to provide explanations concerning the vessel or any location, gear, record, fish, or fishing method as they relate to the taking or possession of any "fish."73 Likewise, they may require detained persons to produce any permits, licenses, certificates, or other authorizations issued to a detained person or vessel, making copies of them or requiring those persons to reproduce the information they contain in useable form.74

c. Powers of arrest, seizure, and use of force
If a Fisheries Officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed or is in the process of committing a violation of the FRA, the Officer has authority, without a warrant, to order the person to (a) immediately cease the act being committed, (b) require the person verify their name, birthdate, place of residence, and occupation, and/or (c) arrest that person.75

The Fisheries Officer must transfer a person who has been arrested to the custody a member of the Belize Police Department as soon as is practicable.76 The Officer may also order the master of a vessel believed to be involved in the commission of an offense to proceed, as soon as reasonably practicable, to a specified port or other location, providing reasonable directions with respect to any actions or things while the vessel is proceeding to port.77

Fisheries Officers are similarly empowered to seize any vessel, gear, container, or object that the Officer believes is involved in the commission of an FRA violation, as well as any fish (or other marine life) that are reasonably believed to be illegally taken, killed, transported, or acquired.78 Similarly, any record, document, or thing may be seized if there is reasonable grounds to believe these provide evidence of an offense.79 If Fisheries Officers encounter resistance while performing any of the enforcement tasks described above, they are authorized under the FRA to use "such force as may be reasonably necessary."80

d. Legal presumptions, evidence, and the burden of proof
Given the vast areas of maritime territory Fisheries Officers must patrol, the FRA addresses the challenge of catching violators at the moment offenses are committed—and gathering admissible evidence—through the use of legal presumptions that shift the burden of proof to those accused of fisheries violations. Following the transfer of arrested persons or seized property to the police or Fisheries Administrator, a Fisheries Officer may provide prosecutors or the court with a certificate of evidence stating the circumstances of the arrest or seizure, including, inter alia, the location in relation to the boundaries of fisheries waters or zones where the offense or enforcement action occurred, the time and date of the incident, the position fixing instruments used by the officer, and descriptions of the gear used and the nature of the alleged violator's conduct.81

Certificate or logbook entries from an enforcement officer's vessel or aircraft serves as prima facie evidence of the alleged facts unless they can be rebutted by the person(s) charged with the offense.82 Likewise, if a Fisheries Officer takes a picture of a violation taking place and date and time stamp appears on a photo, it is presumed that the violation occurred at that time unless the defendant can provide evidence otherwise.83 Moreover, a written entry or mark in any log, chart, or other document that the FRA requires to be maintained to record the activities of the fishing vessel is presumed to be made by the master of the vessel.84 Finally, any fish, coral, or other marine life found on a vessel involved in an alleged offense are presumed to have been taken from the location where the offense occurred unless the defendant provides evidence to the contrary.85 Finally, strict liability applies to violations of the FRA's provisions. The prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant intended to commit an offense.

e. Prosecution and Summary administrative proceedings
The decision whether to formally charge a person with an alleged offense in which property has been seized must be made "as soon as reasonably practicable" after the seizure of the property.86 This applies to many violations, since the seizure of illegal catch and the gear used in obtaining it is standard part of enforcing FRA violations. If the Fisheries Administrator (FA) decides to charge a person who has committed an offense under the FRA, the FA must first consult with the Minister and obtain the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before proceeding administratively against a person who has been charged.87 The FA must then notify the person accused that summary administrative proceedings may begin within 24 hours of receiving the notification.88

A person accused of an FRA violation may choose to submit to the summary administrative proceeding conducted by the FA as an alternative to a formal trial where the evidence and circumstances relating to an alleged offense are presented by a public prosecutor in a court of law (and the penalties generally more severe upon conviction). If the accused agrees to this type of proceeding, the accused must notify the FA that he or she either admits to the violation or consents to a summary administrative proceeding.89 A person who consents to a summary proceeding must not engage in any fishing activity until the penalty paid in full and is deemed to have consented to any seizure that occurred in relation to the violation.90

f. Penalties, damages, and cost recovery
The table below highlights a selection of penalties for violations of the FRA and marine reserve regulations:

Penalties for FRA and Marine Reserve offenses
Type of offense Fine* a/o Prison
Obstruction of fisheries observers (FRA § 56(6)). $1K–$100K 6 mos.–2 yrs.
Fishing without a license (FRA § 15(2)(a)). $1K–$5K 6 mos.–1 yr.
Taking or destroying flora or fauna w/o license (FRA § 15(2)(b)). $5K–$100K ≤ 1 yr.
Violation of fishing license conditions (FRA § 25) . Possible revocation of license
Use of prohibited fishing gear (local) (FRA § 38(3). $1K–$5K 6 mos.–1 yr.
Use of prohibited fishing gear (foreign) (FRA § 38(4)). $5K–$200K 1 yr.–2 yrs.
Violation of record book requirement (FRA § 40). $1K–$2K ≤ 2 yrs.
Liability for damaging the Belize Barrier Reef System - Environmental Protection Act**
Any location (Regulations that include provisions for damages) $5K ≤ $25K per sq. meter of damage
Liability for damaging coral in a marine reserve (Fine plus assessed damages)
Marine reserve (Regulations that include provisions for damages) Fine Damages
Bacalar Chico ≤ $500 ≤ $500
Caye Caulker ≤ $50,000
Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes ≤ $500 ≤ $500
Port Honduras ≤ $10,000 ≤ $1M
*Belizean Dollars; K = $1,000, M = $1,000,000
**Environmental Protection (Amendment) Act, No. 5 (2009), amended Section 29.

In determining an appropriate penalty for any FRA violation involving the taking or killing of any marine life (i.e. fishing), "a court may take into account the damage done to the marine ecosystem and to the long-term sustainability of the marine living resources, as well as the loss of future use, and any other applicable consideration, wherever the offence may have been committed."91

Damages and cost recovery
The FRA addresses the collection of damages and cost recovery for three types of consequences that often result from violations. In the case of a summary conviction, in addition to fines imposed on the offender for FRA offenses, the Government of Belize may hold the defendant liable for the following:

  1. Loss or damage the offender causes, including loss or damage to the ecosystem.
  2. Costs incurred in detecting, apprehending, investigating, or prosecuting the offense.
  3. Costs incurred in detaining or seizing any fish or other property related to the offense.92

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5. Coastal development and the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process
The Environmental Protection Act and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (EIA Regulations) establish the rules for evaluating and approving proposals for new development projects, such as those that take place near the coastline or which may generate effluents that can flow into the sea.93 Sectoral legislation provides additional requirements for activities subject to the EIA process. The Department of the Environmental (DOE) is the government body with principal authority for overseeing the environmental clearance process (project evaluation and approval) for activities that may cause adverse impacts to the environment, such as the construction and operation of a coastal resort or marina.

Developers who wish to undertake new construction projects or other activities must submit project proposals to the Project Evaluation / EIA Unit of the Department of the Environment (DOE), which undertakes a screening process to determine whether a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) study is required. If an activity is listed in Schedule I of the EIA Regulations, an EIA is mandatory.94 For activities listed in Schedule II, a discretionary list, the requirement of an EIA study is based on the size and location of the project.95 Coastal resorts, the clearing of mangroves, and the construction of tourist facilities on small islands fall into this category.96 Developers generally must obtain a number of types of permits in addition to an environmental license arising from the EIA process.97

Once a developer's team has completed an EIA study, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC), an independent advisory body that is adjunct to the DOE, has been responsible for reviewing the accuracy and completeness of the study and advises the DOE whether a public hearing should be held to obtain stakeholder input.98 The Project Evaluation & EIA Unit is responsible for deciding to approve or deny each proposal and developing Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) for the project's follow-up program.99 The ECP is legally binding and specifies the mitigation and monitoring measures the developer must implement. The project proponent must pay an environmental monitoring fee, post a guarantees or performance bond, and/or other measures that may be reasonably required to assure environmental compliance.100

Enforcement of coastal zone development and EIA requirements
The DOE's Environmental Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Unit (ECMEU) enforces environmental pollution laws as well as monitoring compliance with the project-specific requirements contained in ECPs. The DOE—through its ECMEU—has authority to enter project premises "at all reasonable times" to verify compliance with environmental requirements (during both the construction and operational stages).101 Sanctions for violations include revocation of the project license, fines of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months. 102

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6. Other legislation: land-based and marine pollution
The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) provides that the Minister, after consulting the Department of the Environment, may make regulations specifying permissible levels for the emission, discharge, or deposit of pollutants into the environment.103 The EPA further provides that no person shall emit, discharge, or dispose "any waste that might directly or indirectly pollute water resources or damage or destroy marine life.104 Those who violate this provision are liable, upon summary conviction, for a fine ranging from five to twenty-five thousand dollars and/or to imprisonment for a maximum of 2 years.105 A person who continues to discharge waste after receiving notice of the violation is additionally liable for up to one thousand dollars per day.106

The 2009 amendment for the EPA created an Environmental Management Fund and added detailed provisions for environmental safeguards for petroleum extraction, as well as the Belize Barrier Reef. Three amended provisions are particularly pertinent to liability for damage caused to coral reefs and related ecosystems. First, the standard for liability for damage that results in the loss or use of an ecosystem was changed from "intentionally or recklessly" to "negligently or carelessly."107 Secondly, a person who causes damage to a "critical habitats" identified by the Department of the Environment, or any other part of the environment, is liable for a mandatory fine ranging from fifty to two hundred thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to two years.108 Thirdly, the EPA makes it an offense for any person to "cause or permit any damage to the Belize Barrier Reef System or any significant coral formation."109 Fines for this offense range from five thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars per square meter of damaged coral.110

The Effluent Limitations (Amendment) Regulations of the EPA establish rules for the discharge of effluents into any inland water or the marine environment. The Regulations cover issues that include, among others, new sources of discharge, allowable conditions for discharge into inland waters, the discharge of effluents and sludge on land, licenses to discharge, fees penalties, and schedules containing maximum permissible concentrations of discharge by substance and sector.111 Areas containing coral reefs, seagrass beds, or mangroves are defined as Class I waters, which also include critical breeding areas and waters containing habitat for any species protected under the SPAW protocol. The 2009 amendment of these regulations strengthened required procedures for notifying the Department of the Environment of any accident or unforeseen event in any industry sector, as well as the discharge or likely discharge of poisonous, noxious, or polluting substances onto the land or into inland waters or the marine environment.112

The Pollution Regulations establish mechanisms to monitor and control air, noise, water, and land pollution. They prohibit the release of contaminants into the environment unless a permit has been issued by the DOE and permissible levels of contaminants from authorized sources are maintained.113 The DOE has authority to require that owners and operators of facilities (such as a coastal resort, sewage treatment plant, or aquaculture enterprise) clean up and abate their pollution. The DOE encourages voluntary compliance through an environmental incentive programme, as well as a facility environmental audit programme—a comprehensive investigation and evaluation system for proactively detecting and preventing environmental violations and pollution related offenses.

The Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act (2017) imposes a moratorium for an indefinite period of time on the exploration for petroleum, its exploitation, and other petroleum operations within the territorial waters of Belize.114 In addition, the legislation aims to prevent pollution resulting from from installation devices and ships used for exploring for and exploiting petroleum contained in the offshore seabed. The Act defines the "Belize Barrier Reef System" by its northern and southern geographical limits and describes it as "comprising corals, coral reefs, atolls, islands, seagrass beds, mangroves and other associated critical habitats and their inhabitants."115 The Act defines "petroleum operations" as:

[T]he operations related to the exploration, development, extraction, production, field separation, transportation, storage, or disposal of petroleum, but does not include any transportation or other operations in relation to petroleum that is imported into or exported from Belize by way of the maritime zone.116

The Act establishes penalties of up to two hundred Belizean dollars and/or up to five years imprisonment for any person convicted, upon indictment, of violating it, or a fine of up to three million dollars for corporations.117

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7. Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to which Belize is a signatory

Title of Convention Ratification or
Accession Date
Cartagena Convention 22 Sep. 1999
Protocol Concerning Oil Spill (Oil Spill Protocol to the Cartagena Convention) 22 Sep. 1999
Protocol Concerning Pollution From Land Based Sources And Activities in the Wider Caribbean Region (LBS Protocol to the Cartagena Convention)4 Feb. 2008
Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean Region (SPAW Protocol to the Cartagena Convention) 4 Jan. 2008
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity 12 Feb. 2004
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants 25 Jan. 2010
United Nations Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous waste and their disposal (Basel Convention) 23 May 1997
Rotterdam Convention 20 April 2005
Vienna Convention 6 June 1997
Montreal Protocol 9 Jan. 1998
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 21 Sep. 1981
UN Convention on Biological Diversity 30 Dec. 1993
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 31 Oct. 1994
Kyoto Protocol 26 Sep. 2003
Paris Agreement 22 Apr. 2016
The United Nations Convention on Wetlands (RAMSAR Convention) 22 Apr. 1998
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) 13 Aug. 1983
UN Convention to Combat Desertification 23 Jul. 1998
Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean24 Sep. 2020
Source: InforMEA, Belize, https://www.informea.org/en/countries/BZ/parties.

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1. Mongabay.com (August 25, 2020), Belize takes ocean action with expanded marine reserve and ban on gill nets, https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/belize-takes-ocean-action-with-expanded-marine-reserve-and-ban-on-gill-nets/; Environmental Defense Fund (August 5, 2020), Belize adds another jewel in its crown as leader in ocean conservation, https://www.edf.org/media/belize-adds-another-jewel-its-crown-leader-ocean-conservation; Government of Belize (31 July 2020), Expansion of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve to Protect Important Reef Ecosystem, https://www.pressoffice.gov.bz/expansion-of-the-sapodilla-cayes-marine-reserve-to-protect-important-reef-ecosystem/.

2. National Protected Areas System Act, No. 17 of 2015 (NPASA) § 30.; The Fisheries Resources Act, No. 7, 2020, § 13.

3. Government of Belize, Belize Integrated Coastal Management Plan 2016, Background, 2 https://www.coastalzonebelize.org/integrated-coastal-zone-management-plan-and-guideline/.

4. Most Caribbean countries—and many countries around the world—have created marine protected areas (MPAs) as mechanisms for preserving biodiversity and preserving healthy, well-preserved marine ecosystems. In countries with small coastlines or near-shore reef systems, MPAs do not protect against marine and land-based pollution that knows no boundaries and flows into these areas. Similarly, even the best national conservation efforts, alone, cannot protect against all climate change-related threats to a country's reefs.

5. Environmental Law Institute (July 2019), Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Legal Reports: Belize, Greta Swanson and Xiao Recio-Blanco, principal contributors, https://www.eli.org/sites/default/files/eli-pubs/eli-mar-legal-reports-belize.pdf; note Environmental Protection (Amendment) Act, Cap 328, 2000 (Rev. 2009).

6. FRA § 91 states that the Act preempts regulatory provisions of the marine reserve regulations (and Fisheries Regulations made under the repealed Fisheries Act) that conflict with FRA provisions, but regulations that do not conflict remain in force.

7. Fisheries and maritime affairs are now under the Ministry of The Blue Economy & Civil Aviation, while the Forest Department and Department of the Environment are now under the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management. Previously, all of these functions were administered under the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, The Environment and Sustainable Development.

8. Preamble to the National Protected Areas System Act, No. 17 of 2015 (NPASA).

9. NPASA Part V, §§ 14-26 (also applies to modifying and revoking existing MPAs; also repealed and replaced the earlier National Parks Legislation).

10. NPASA § 6.

11. Government of Belize (March 2015 revision), National Protected Areas System Plan, Executive summary, http://selvamaya.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/National-Protected-Areas-System-Plan.pdf.

12. Id.

13. NPASA §§ 10–12; 11(1) and (2).

14. FRA § 12 states that the Minister may, through an Order published in the Gazette and on the recommendation of the Fisheries Council, close a specific area, fishery, stock, or species of fish to be closed to fishing to prevent further depletion, promote recovery and ecosystems services, or to protect critical habitats.

15. Government of Belize (website), Protected Areas, https://protectedareas.gov.bz/marine-reserves/.

16. Id.

17. Coastal Zone Management Act, CAP. 329, 2000 (CZMA).

18. CZMA § 5(a).

19. CZMA § 10.

20. Environmental Law Institute (July 2019), Supra note 5.

21. Under the current organizational hierarchy of the Cabinet, the Fisheries Department is an agency under the Ministry of the Blue Economy & Civil Aviation.

22. FRA § 4.

23. FRA § 8.

24. FRA § 87.

26. FRA § 87(4).

27. FRA § 65(1). Nevertheless, § 65(2) provides a defense against prosecution (and strict liability) if the defendant proves that he or she did not intend to commit the offense AND that either:
i. In cases where it is alleged that the defendant did not perform required actions, that the defendant took all reasonable steps to ensure that it was done, OR
ii. In cases where it is alleged that the defendant undertook prohibited actions, that the defendant took all reasonable steps to ensure that it was not done.

28. Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 328 (Rev. 2011), Environmental Impact (Assessment) Regulations, S.I. 24 of 2007, the Effluent Limitations (Amendment) Regulations, S.I. No. 102 of 2009, and the Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act 481, No. 54 of 2017.

29. NPASA §§ 14-19.

30. NPASA § 4.

31. NPASA § 8. Section 2 defines each of the categories as follows:

MPA Category Definition (NPASA § 2)
Marine reserve [A]n area of land and sea declared as a marine reserve under section 14 (1) of the Fisheries Act or any equivalent statutory provision that may replace that provision
National park [A]ny area established as a national park in accordance with the provisions of section 33 for the protection and preservation of natural and scenic values of a national significance for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.
Nature reserve [A]ny area reserved as a scientific reserve in accordance with the provisions of section 33 for the protection of nature, be it biological communities or species and to maintain natural processes in an undisturbed state in order to have ecologically representative examples of the natural environment available for scientific study, monitoring, education and the maintenance of genetic resources.
Wildlife sanctuary, Type I [A]ny area reserved as a nature reserve under this Act for the protection of nationally significant species, groups of species, biotic communities or physical features of the environment requiring specific human manipulation for their perpetuation.
Wildlife sanctuary, Type II [S]imilarly construed as "Wildlife Sanctuary 1", except that established traditional community use, including harvesting on the basis of a sustainable use plan, is permitted.
Natural monument [A]ny area reserved for the protection and preservation of nationally significant natural features of special interest or unique characteristics to provide opportunities for interpretation, education, research and public appreciation.
Private protected areas [A]ny private land declared to be a protected area under [the NPASA]
Spawning aggregation sites [T]he place where important aquatic and terrestrial species of animals congregate to engage in reproductive activities and which is declared as such under the Fisheries [Resources] Act.
Scenic seascapes of geomorphic significance [P]leasing views of the natural features of an area of land, including
  1. physical elements of landforms, such as mountains and hills, water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea;
  2. living elements of land including indigenous vegetation;
  3. human elements including different forms of land use;
  4. transitory elements such as lighting and weather conditions; and
  5. the scientific study of these landforms and the processes that shape them;

32. NPASA § 15; FRA § 14.

33. Section 15(1) of the NPASA states that the Minister responsible for the NPAS, though a ministerial order published in the Gazette, " may declare an area of land in Belize to be a protected area; except for an area of land in Belize that may be so lawfully declared as a protected area, by any other Minister under another enactment. [Empasis added] Section 3 of the Forests Act, Cap. 213 (Rev. 2000) authorizes the same Minister to declare a forest reserve through that Act. Note that § 35 of the NPASA gharges the Chief Forest Officer, not the Fisheries Department, with responsibility for administering all national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, natural monuments, and nature reserves, even if these contain marine areas.

34. NPASA § 35. ] See NPASA § 15; ELI (July 2019), Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Legal Reports: Belize, 15, Available at https://www.eli.org/sites/default/files/eli-pubs/eli-mar-legal-reports-belize.pdf.

35. NPASA § 14.

36. NPASA § 28(1).

37. NPASA § 30.

38. NPASA § 31.

39. NPASA § 30(2) and (5).

40. NPASA § 13.

41. Id.

42. FRA § 14(1). FRA § 2 defines a Fishery Area as " an area in the fisheries waters designated for fishing or fisheries related activities."

43. FRA § 14(2).

44. FRA § 14(6).

45. FRA § 2 (Interpretation).

46. Id.

47. FRA § 20(1).

48. FRA § 20(2).

49. FRA § 21(3)(b).

50. FRA § 21(5) and (6).

51. FRA § 22(1).

52. FRA § 40(1).

53. FRA § 40(3).

54. Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve Regulations (S.I. No. 95 of 2003), § 24; Port Honduras Marine Reserve Regulations (S.I. No. 18 of 2000) § 24.

55. Hol Chan Marine Reserve Regulations, (Cap. 210 of 1988) § 8:01(a)(ii).

56. FRA § 15(1).

57. FRA § 88(2). Describe Schedule

58. The terms "traditional" and "cultural" are not defined in the FRA.

59. FRA § 35.

60. FRA § 4 (Interpretation).

61. See e.g., Caye Caulker Marine Regulations (2008), § 9.

62. FRA § 35(1) and (2).

63. FRA § 35(4).

64. FRA § 55(4).

65. FRA § 55(5).

66. FRA § § 55(5), 56(2).

67. FRA § § 55(5), 56(1).

68. FRA § 5(3) states that the Minister "acting on the recommendation of the Fisheries Administrator, by Order published in the Gazette, may appoint any member of a management committee of a local fishing village cooperative, a duly elected member of a city, town or village council or any employee of a locally registered non-governmental organization with which the Minister has entered into a co-management agreement under this Act, to be a Fisheries Officer for the purposes of this Act."

69. FRA § 5(2) and (3) specify the types of non-government actors who may be specially authorized the participate as enforcement authorities.

70. FRA § 43(3).

71. FRA § 43(2).

72. FRA § 43(3).

73. FRA § 44(a).

74. FRA § 44(b)–(d).

75. FRA § 45(a)–(c).

76. FRA § 45(2); the Summary Jurisdiction (Procedure) Act, Cap. 99 (Rev. 2000) applies. Section 95(1) states that:
"Every person who is found committing any offence which is punishable on summary conviction may be apprehended and taken into custody, without warrant, by any police officer, or may be apprehended by the owner of any property on or with respect to which the offence is committed, or by his servant or any other person authorised by him, and shall in the latter case be delivered as soon as possible into the custody of a police officer, to be dealt with according to law."

77. FRA § 46.

78. FRA § 48(1)(a) and (b).

79. FRA § 48(1)(c).

80. FRA § 47.

81. FRA §§ 59 and 60.

82. FRA §§ 61(4); 63(2) and (3).

83. FRA § 62(1); Section 62(2) provides that the presumption of validity of a photo taken by a fisheries officer must be qualified by two factors:
(a) the camera taking the photo is connected directly to the instruments which provide the date, time and position concerned; and
(b) the instruments which provide the date, time and position are judicially recognized as being notoriously accurate or are designated machines or were checked as soon as possible after taking of the photograph against such instruments.

84. FRA § 63(5).

85. FRA § 63(1).

86. FRA § 50(3).

87. FRA § 85(1).

88. FRA § 85(2).

89. FRA § 85(3).

90. Id..

91. FRA § 73.

92. FRA § 58.

93. Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 328 (Rev. 2011), Part V, and the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, S.I. 102 of 1995 and S.I. 24 of 2007 (Rev. 2020).

94. EIA Regulations, § 7, Schedule I.

95. See, e.g., Nexterra, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for Philip Goldson Highway Upgrading Miles 24.5 - 92, pp. 3-4, Available at https://doe.gov.bz/environmental-clearance/.

96. EIA Regulations, § 8, Schedule II.

97. For example, other required authorizations may include permits for the hiring of employees or for the disposal of solid waste. See e.g., North Ambergris Caye EIA study (2015), Section 4.4, Compliance with Laws and Regulations.

98. The EIA (Amendment) Regulations, 2020, § 25 (as amended) state that a new Committee will be appointed to replace the NEAC. The functions of the new Committee include, inter alia, reviewing and approving environmental impact assessments, advising the DOE during the EIA review stage on the adequacy of individual EIAs and the desirability of public consultation, recommending ways to improve the EIA process, and evaluating the information contained in EIAs "on the basis of scientific evidence and facts concerning social, economic and ecological considerations." The Committee will we comprised of sixteen members, specified in § 25(2) of the amended EIA regulations. An Environmental Clearance Process Flow Chart is available on the DOE website.

99. Belize Department of the Environment (website), Environmental Clearance Process, https://doe.gov.bz/environmental-clearance/; Project Evaluation/EIA Unit, Description of units, https://doe.gov.bz/about/.

100. Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 328 (Rev. 2011), § 20(7).

101. Under § 5 of the Act, authorities may enter project premises "at all reasonable times" to take and remove samples, make copies of computer records, seize evidence, and other necessary measures "to determine whether there has been compliance with, or any contravention of" any license terms and conditions and/or violations of legislative requirements that applies to all actors.

102. Environmental Impact Assessment (Amendment) Regulations, S.I. No. 24 of 2007 § 22A(3); the EIA Regulations, § 28(2) place a cap of $2,000 and/or 1 year imprisonment for violations of the regulations.

103. Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 328 (2011), § 6.

104. EPA, § 11(1).

105. EPA, § 11(2).

106. Id.

107. EPA § 29(1)(a) (as amended).

108. EPA § 29(2).

109. EPA § 29(3).

110. Id.

111. Environmental Protection (Effluent Limitations) Regulations, 1995 ("ELR"), amended in 2009 by the Effluent Limitations (Amendment) Regulations, S.I. No. 102 of 2009.

112. ELR § 16.

113. Belize Department of the Environment (website), Legislation, https://doe.gov.bz/legislation/; Pollution Regulations, (Cap. 238 of 1995) and Pollution (Amendment) Regulations, 2009 (S.I. No. 101 of 2009).

114. Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act of 2017, Preamble.

115. Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act of 2017, § 3.

116. Id.

117. Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Act of 2017, §§ 4 and 7(1).

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