Belize’s oceanic space is an outstanding organic system that contains the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. This abundant reef is home to offshore atolls, sand cays, and coastal lagoons and also provides habitat for sea turtles, groupers, spiny lobster, and manatees. As such, it’s incredibly important to protect it from the many threats it faces, some of which include the overfishing of valuable fish stocks (often by using methods-such as spear fishing-that have catastrophic effects on coral) and unregulated coastal development. The latter can lead to dredging, vegetation clearance, and improper waste disposal which impacts sea grass, coral, and essential mangrove habitats. In response to these threats, the Belizean government, conservation groups, and tourism organizations are attempting to preserve the reef in myriad ways. These include creating “no-take zones” that prohibit fishing in protected areas, raising public awareness about the ocean’s importance, and encouraging sustainable fishing methods and practices.
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