By: Guest Contributor
First person: Arreini Palacio Morgan, Placencia Lagoon Waterkeeper, Belize
As told to Ellen Simon, staff writer at Waterkeeper Alliance
The Placencia Village, where we work, really is a village; it’s connected with a path, almost like a boardwalk. People here know me now, and they know what I’m doing.
The goal that keeps me going is ensuring that our marine ecosystem remains as pristine as possible. It’s not the big fights — although the big fights are very important — that keep me fueled up. It’s the smile on the face of a child who understands, the “good job” affirmation from a fisherman who used to be opposed to the general idea of our work, the kind words from tour guides who used to have no confidence in our work saying, “I see what you are doing, great job! How can I help?”
The number of developments here has ballooned; there are 14 offshore developments on different cays that have gone up in the last five years, developments that include dredging, removing mangroves, and other activities that will have a negative impact on our marine environment.
Our Department of the Environment isn’t able to monitor each of them. Our work is cut out for us! When I see these things happen, it hurts me and I am disappointed. I want better for the fisherman’s child, for the tour guide’s child. That’s what keeps me going.
We’ve advocated for, and won, a seat on the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, which evaluates environmental impact assessments. As a part of that committee, we’re able to contribute a vote on projects. We’re able to look at projects from a community perspective, see whether something is a fit and raise the alarm if it’s not.
I want our successes and challenges to be known in the nation’s board rooms — and on our boardwalk.
Learn more about Placencia Lagoon Waterkeeper’s work — and how you can help — at www.seabelize.org.
Waterkeeper Alliance strengthens and grows a global network of grassroots leaders protecting many of the world’s great water sources and everyone’s right to clean water.
Today, Waterkeeper Alliance unites more than 350 Waterkeeper groups that are on the frontlines of the planetary environmental crisis, patrolling and protecting more than 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways on 6 continents.
From Alaska to the Himalayas, the Great Lakes to Australia, the Waterkeeper movement defends the fundamental human right to drinkable, fishable, and swimmable waters, and combines firsthand knowledge of waterways with an unwavering commitment to the rights of local communities.
Waterkeeper Alliance ensures that the world’s Waterkeeper groups are as connected to each other as they are to their local waters, organizing the fight for clean water into a coordinated global movement. Everyone has the right to clean water. It is the action of supporting members that ensures our future and strengthens our fight for clean water.
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