Non-Aligned Movement attaches great significance to SDG Goal 14 that calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. NAM has reaffirmed the importance of measures to ensure the sustainable management of marine biodiversity and ecosystems, including fish stocks, which contribute to food security and poverty eradication efforts, including through ecosystem approaches to ocean management, and to address the adverse effects of climate change on the marine environment and marine biodiversity. NAM has called on the Member States to formulate policies for the protection of Oceans and marine diversity. biodiversity. The Movement has called on all countries to promote and cooperate in the full, open and prompt exchange of relevant scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and legal information related to the protection of coral reefs and related marine ecosystems.

NAM has welcomed the United Nations General Assembly resolution 71/312 of 06 July 2017 which endorsed the Declaration entitled “Our Ocean Our Future: Call for Action”. The Resolution calls for halting and reversing the decline in the health and productivity of oceans and their ecosystem. The Resolution calls upon all stakeholders to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development by developing comprehensive strategies to raise awareness of the natural and cultural significance of the ocean, accelerating actions to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, particularly from land-based activities, implementing effective adaptation and mitigation measures that contribute to increasing and supporting resilience to ocean and coastal acidification, sea level rise and increase in ocean temperatures and enhancing sustainable fisheries management.

Belize, situated in Central America and home of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, has become a global pioneer in marine protection. In a landmark decision taken by the Belize government, the country imposed a permanent moratorium on oil activities in its waters. The legislation, which was signed into law on 29 December 2017, marked the first time that a developing country had taken such a major step to protect its oceans from oil exploration and extraction.

In April 2019, the government of Belize approved a plan to expand its marine areas designated as no-take zones from 4.5 percent to 11.6 percent of its total waters. The expansion will also include a no-take area in Belize’s exclusive economic zone, covering an extensive coral reef complex known as the Corona Reef. With the expansion of strictly protected areas to nearly 12 percent of its waters, Belize will move toward achieving some of its international commitments. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Target 11, which calls for conserving at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. “The rationale for this expansion was to provide sufficient protection to marine species, habitats, and ecosystem processes so as to conserve marine biodiversity, sustain fisheries, and increase resilience to climate change,” Ralna Lewis, assistant director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Belize program, remarked.

It is a crucial step for Belize in meeting the aspirations of its development plans including Belize Horizon 2030 and the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy. It will also help Belize to meet its international commitments under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Guidelines for Small-Scale Fisheries, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Further, this expansion will help to maintain the outstanding universal value of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System UNESCO World Heritage Site. In its 2018 report card on the health of its reef Belize scored 2.8 – an improvement on 2.3 in 2006.

The Managed Access (MA) plan is another important initiative. Managed Access is a rights-based fishing program that gives traditional fishers access to fishing grounds. This program aims to reduce fishing pressure and the incentive to fish illegally by providing traditional fishers with secured fishing grounds. Through the MA program, licenses are issued annually to fishers according to criteria developed in consultation with fisher representatives. Licenses allow fishers access to specific areas and require them to comply with regulations and report their catch.