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Ministry of Public Utilities, Logistics Holds Maritime Educational Expo 2023

Sep 29, 2023

Ministry of Public Utilities, Logistics Holds Maritime Educational Expo 2023

The compound at the Belize Port Authority was busy with activity today. It was the venue for the Maritime Education Expo 2023, which featured a number of maritime-related organizations and agencies. It coincided with World Maritime Day. The maritime industry is significant because it moves eighty percent of the world trade. So today, the Ministry of Logistics invited students from a number of high schools to attend the event to learn about the different stakeholders in the maritime industry and to highlight their roles. News Five stopped by for a peek at the event and Marion Ali filed this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

Maritime–related issues is not a topic that makes the news daily, but it is an important sector since the industry is responsible for the movement of eighty percent of all the world’s trade. To get the industry operating methodically, there has to be a number of agencies working in unison, such as the Belize Port Authority, the Belize Coast Guard, the Immigration and Customs departments. Immigration Officer, Eldon August explained how the various agencies correlate when ships dock in harbour.

Eldon August

Eldon August, Immigration Officer

“Whenever any vessel enter Belize, we have a boarding party that consists of Immigration, Port Authority, BAHA, Customs, and Health. Each department has their role to play when it comes to entering a vessel in Belize. The master of the vessel, they are supposed to provide for immigration purposes. We need the certificate from the vessel. We need the passenger list. We need the crew list. We need a nill list. A nill list is a document that states that there are no stowaways, no animals, no ammunition.”

Leonard Lockwood is the shipping manager for B.E.C. Logistics Company, which handles the shipment of goods in and out of Belize.

Leonard Lockwood

Leonard Lockwood, Shipping Manager, B.E.C.  Logistics Company

“A lot of the farmers who have produce to move into CARICOM markets or into North America, Europe, other destinations, we can do it for them. And for those importers who want to bring product to market into Belize, we also offer that service. Goods are coming in from Europe, Asia, North America, Inter-Caribbean, South America. We can help facilitate that business.”

For the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize, IMMARBE, which regulates registration of ships under the Belizean flag, its work caters to the international shipping community, as the Senior Deputy Registrar of Ships, Annette Garel enlightened.

Annette Garel

Annette Garel, Senior Deputy Registrar of Ships, IMMARBE

“It is the international ship register empowered to register vessels on behalf of the country of Belize internationally. Um, we are an open ship register, which means that 95 percent of our ships are owned by international companies or individuals. Very few of them are locally owned.”

Tied to maritime affairs is the fiftieth anniversary of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). This is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. Minister of Logistics, Michel Chebat says the MARPOL Convention governs the way the industry protects the seas that facilitate this important methods of trade.

Michel Chebat

Michel Chebat, Minister of Logistics and E-governance

“We are really governed by the MARPOL Convention, which really directs about ways how you’re going to dispose of the fuel you use on the ship: the air pollution, the garbage you generate, and so the MARPOL Convention really governs how that happens. In Belize, we have the Department of the Environment, which is really in charge of making sure that the stipulations of the convention are enforced. We also have the Coastal Management Zone; we also have the Belize Port Authority. So you have a number of government agencies across the board who are looking to enforce these provisions.”

Today’s event also coincided with World Maritime Day.  Marion Ali for News Five.