The assistance of former US President Bill Clinton, actor Ted Danson, entertainers Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga and other celebrities and philanthropists in a Christie’s Green Auction held earlier this month has greatly helped Belize further safeguard its precious Caribbean and inland waterways, according to the Lodge at Chaa Creek.
The gala April auction raised over US$ 1.5 million to support four groups including Oceana, the international environmental organization that recently assisted Belize in instituting one of the world’s first bans on the destructive fishing practice of bottom trawling.
Other beneficiaries of the Christie’s auction were Conservation International, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and The Central Park Conservancy. Lots auctioned off included a Hollywood experience during the Oscars, a day shadowing President Bill Clinton, a trip to Tokyo to meet Justin Bieber, a tennis lesson with John McEnroe and a trip to Miami to meet Lady Gaga.
In what was described as one of the most dramatic moments of the evening, prominent New York lawyer, author and environmentalist Sir Thomas Moore made a donation of $100,000 to help Oceana’s effort to completely end all forms of trawling in Belize. The generous donation by Moore was part of a “Paddle Raise,” lot in which guests at the Green Auction raised a total of $350,000 to support Oceana’s work on ending trawling in Belize.
Belize officially banned all forms of trawling from its Caribbean Sea coast to inland waters last December, and the statutory instrument outlawing the practice went into effect February 2011.
In enacting the legislation, Belize joins Venezuela and Palau as the first three nations to take this important global environmental initiative, according to Oceana.
The latest support from Oceana involves purchasing the last two Belizean trawling vessels as well as establishing a fund for micro loans for fishermen and a reserve fund for disaster relief.
Lucy Fleming, co-founder and GM of The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize’s prominent eco resort and home to its Natural History Centre, applauded the finalization of the ban and the financial support.
“What is so heartening about this victory is that it represents an effective collaboration between local environmentalists, international organizations and philanthropists that achieved significant results. This is truly a model for how small developing countries like Belize can partner with global colleagues to ensure sustainable practices that encourage development while protecting our precious natural resources and our collective, worldwide natural heritage.
“It really is a great victory for common sense, best practices and international cooperation, and all of us in Belize are grateful to everyone involved,” Ms Fleming said.