At the recent International Marine Conservation Congress held in Canada, experts discussed how the waters of Belize may soon be able to offer new opportunities for locals to make money. The topic being discussed by Julianne Robinson of The Nature Conservancy was seaweed mariculture.
Fishing has been an integral component of the Belizean economy for centuries. Even today, many locals in coastal communities of Belize depend on fishing both for their livelihoods and as a source of food. Climate change, overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and other factors have resulted in the recent decline in fisheries in Belize that many local communities depend on. As fisheries decline, local fishermen have been seeking new avenues of income.
Ms. Robinson spoke about how The Nature Conservancy has been working jointly with the Placencia Fishermen Cooperative in Belize in order to conduct pilot tests on mariculture farms. While many options are being currently explored, the most promising result so far has been growing red seaweed with the Latin name Euchemia isiforme.
See also: Belize Is An Angler’s Paradise
Growing seaweed is beneficial for a number of reasons. For one, the harvesting process is not dissimilar from fishing. Many of Belize’s local fishermen already include seaweed harvesting as a byproduct of fishing for queen conch and spiny lobster that like to cluster where seaweed grows. The collected seaweed is already being sold in local markets. Seaweed is used in Belize as a food item (including in the popular seaweed “shakes” drinks) but the challenge is to find additional uses for the seaweed such as a cooking thickener (similar to starch) or as an ingredient in soap making.
Growing seaweed has a number of benefits for the marine environment, including the restoration of nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the water. The seaweed also serves as a preferred habitat for the valuable queen conch and spiny lobster.
“We welcome this exciting development,” said Larry France, marketing manager of Chabil Mar. “We believe this is a really special opportunity to diversify income opportunities for traditional fishing communities while also helping to preserve fishing stocks, something that will benefit both tourists and locals alike.”
Local demand for red seaweed is high and expected to grow. Beyond the local economy, global demand for seaweed is increasing at about 10% per year, potentially opening lucrative and sustainable jobs for Belizean fishermen. The challenge moving forward will be to scale up production of the seaweed and to better develop overseas markets.
The popular low-cost carrier WestJet has announced that they will be offering non-stop service from Toronto Pearson International Airport to the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City beginning October 29, 2016. The announcement marks the first time that Canada will enjoy non-stop service to the popular vacation destination in Central America. The new WestJet flights will be offered twice a week departing at 9:15 AM and arriving in Belize City at 11:59 AM. Introductory fares are set to start as low as $267 CAD one-way from Toronto to Belize.
The Belize Tourism Board reacted favorably to the WestJet announcement. “Canada is one of the strongest source markets for visitors coming into Belize, so we are thrilled by the announcement of the new non-stop service,” said Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism for Belize. “We warmly welcome this new entry into the increasingly popular market. With more international carriers that add routes into Belize, more opportunities will open up to allow international visitors to experience the charm, beauty, and laid-back friendly vibe that makes Belize so special.”
WestJet’s announcement comes on the back of similar announcements from Southwest about new non-stop service from Denver to Belize City and American about direct service from London (UK) to Belize City beginning next year.
Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula offers guests the chance to experience one of the most beautiful locations in Belize. With well-appointed villas, an infinity pool, a lush tropical garden, and one of the finest restaurants in the country on site, Chabil Mar is an oasis of luxurious tranquility with an unforgettable beachside view of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Just minutes’ away by foot from Placencia Village, Chabil Mar is ideally situated for excursions to the most popular destinations in Belize, including the Maya ruins of Xunantunich, the Cockscomb Basin Nature Reserve, eco-tours up the Monkey River, and the lovely Belize Barrier Reef that is world-renowned for its snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, swimming, and fishing opportunities.
The management of Chabil Mar welcomes the recent announcement by WestJet and looks forward to welcoming Canadians to experience the many wonders that Belize has to offer.
With so many fun festivals and national holidays packed into just one short month, September is one of the best times to visit Belize.
Below is the complete guide to all of the best September celebrations in Belize:
Battle of St. George’s Caye Day Festivities
In 1798, Spain and Britain contested rule over the area with a tremendous maritime battles in the waters offshore of St. George’s Caye. After a week of close-quarter fighting, the British ultimately prevailed, sealing the fate of Belize as a British colony for the next 200 years. Belize has been an independent country since 1981 but continues to celebrate the momentous battle every September 10 that led to Belize being the only nation in Central America where English is the official language.
September 21 marks the official commemoration of Belize’s independence from Great Britain with parades, street parties, and throngs of people proudly waving the red, white and blue colors of Belize’s flag. September 21 is the national holiday but Independence Day festivities begin up to two weeks earlier with the period between Battle of St. George’s Caye Day (September 10) and Independence Day being a virtually non-stop explosion of musical celebrations, parades, dancing, eating, and imbibing.
Expo Belize Market Place
More than 17,000 people are expected to attend this popular event that showcases the products and goods of Belize. Activities include dancing, singing, sampling a wide variety of local food, and plenty of shopping from booths set up by local vendors. Expo Belize Market Place will be held on September 17-18 in 2016.
Similar to events in New Orleans and throughout Latin America, Carnival is a colorful display of parades, music, dancing, and partying spectators that line the streets of Belize City. Elaborately-costumed individuals will march and dance in their efforts to be crowned the king and queen of Carnival.
This unusual festival takes place in the streets of downtown Belize City, with thousands of exuberant party-goers celebrating the opening morning of Carnival Day with a riotous mix of chocolate and paint.
Responding to the burgeoning popularity of vacationing in the Central American paradise of Belize, Southwest has announced that they will be offering non-stop service from Denver to Belize City in 2017.
More than 13,000 Denver area residents traveled to Belize last year. The new non-stop service from Denver to Belize City will begin on a trial basis with Saturday flights between March 11 and April 22, 2017. Since 2015, Southwest has been operating non-stop service to Belize City from its hub in Houston’s Hobby Airport. Should the new Denver-Belize City routes prove to be popular, Southwest has stated that it will add more service.
Thanks to its pristine landscapes and more than a third of the country set aside as protected parks or nature reserves, Belize offers visitors a chance to enjoy a truly unique eco-friendly tourism experience. With more than 180 miles of coastline on the Caribbean that are just a short distance from the Belize Barrier Reef, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that is one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet, Belize has increasingly become popular with visitors who want to explore an unspoiled marine paradise, an ideal setting for swimming, snorkeling, sailing and scuba diving.
“Last year, Belize saw a huge increase in tourism numbers,” said Larry France, the marketing manager of the Chabil Mar resort in Placencia, Belize. “And now we’re starting to see the airlines respond. First, American Airlines announced that they will be offering service from London to Belize and now Southwest has announced that it will be flying non-stop from Denver. We look forward to welcoming even greater numbers of visitors to our wonderful country.”
Chabil Mar is an award-winning resort on the beautiful Placencia Peninsula on the coast of southeastern Belize. The Placencia Peninsula is one of the top visitor destinations in the country, world-renowned for its beautiful beaches and close proximity to both the Belize Barrier Reef and the Cockscomb Nature Preserve on the mainland. Chabil Mar features beachfront villas and offers guests comprehensive jungle and sea packages to all of the top destinations in the country.
Belize is famous for its beautiful beaches, pristine rainforests, ancient Maya ruins, and the hundreds of postcard-perfect tropical islands that dot the Belize Barrier Reef. But one of Belize’s best-kept secrets is its vivacious and increasingly popular music scene.
A mainland country in Central America with a distinctly Caribbean vibe, Belize is home to “brukdown” music, a Creole term that roughly translates as “broken down calypso.” Instead of the stately rhythms of classic songs like “Day-O”, brukdown has a more accelerated tempo, dance-friendly music that regularly keeps the clubs jumping until the small hours of the morning. Many local stations in Belize have made “Good Mawnin’ Belize” (see video below) the unofficial anthem of the country, played every morning to add a jolt of energy and fun into each morning.
Another genre that sprang up in the Garifuna villages and settlements in Belize is “punta” music (see video below). With roots in reggae, punta mashes together the entrancing laconic vibes of reggae with a heavy dose of African-style call and response singing. Punta (sometimes called “punta rock”) is instantly recognizable thanks to rhythm lines from handcrafted drums still made from hollowed logs, punctuated by the liberal use of maracas.
Belize’s Garifuna people are descended from a mix of indigenous Caribbean peoples and Africans. After leaving the British-controlled island of St. Vincent, the Garifuna people moved en masse to Belize in the 19th century to become one of Belize’s most iconic cultures.
Experience the Wonders of Belizean Music
The award-winning resort of Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula is just a few minutes walk from the Garifuna village of Seine Bight where all of the above styles are practiced on a daily basis. Chabil Mar is also just a short driving distance from the Garifuna village of Hopkins and the cultural and musical capital of Belize, Dangriga.
November is a great month to visit Belize as the Garifuna people celebrate their arrival in the country on November 19, Garifuna Settlement Day, a national holiday where Garifuna music, food, and culture is the occasion for a huge street party.
With a beautiful tropical garden, one of the finest restaurants in Belize on-site, and lovely beachfront villas, Chabil Mar offers unparalleled luxury and comfort on the Placencia Peninsula.