Global Ocean Conservation’s New face in Belize
Oceana, the world’s largest environmental organization focused solely on protecting oceans, has appointed a new head of operations in Belize, and according to the Lodge at Chaa Creek’s Natural History Centre manager, the global organisation has made an excellent choice.
Janelle Chanona, a former Belizean news reporter and anchor is now the new face of Oceana Belize, and, joining a large group of celebrity supporters, will make an effective advocate for protecting Belize’s Great Barrier Reef, its hundreds of small islands and Caribbean coastline, according to Chaa Creek’s Brion Young.
“When we recently heard the news we immediately thought that Janelle was an excellent choice,” Mr Young said, “She is known to many Belizeans and has an international education that makes her a perfect choice for thinking globally while acting locally,” he added.
Ms Chanona most recently ran her own media and production company after leaving the Belize news desk, and has produced documentaries for several environmental groups in Belize, Mr Young said.
According to Oceana reports, Ms Chanona is a graduate of St. Johns College in Belize, of Loyola College in Baltimore in the United States and received a Master’s degree with distinction from Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom.
She is also a passionate diver who frequents Belize’s Great Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world after Australia’s, the report state.
Oceana CEO Andrew F. Sharpless said, “We are very lucky to have Janelle join Oceana. She has the right combination of skills and passion to be an excellent leader and to help Oceana win policy victories that protect Belize’s amazing barrier reef and its marine resources.”
“My greatest wish, and the reason I took this job, is to ensure that the reef that all Belizeans love and depend on is protected and made healthier than ever before,” Ms Chanona said, “I am convinced that our future and development as a country depends on it.”
She will be in charge of Oceana’s Belize City office and lead the organisation’s campaigns in Belize, which have included efforts to stop offshore drilling on the world heritage listed reef, ban destructive commercial fishing bottom trawling, support sustainable maritime industries within the country and promote responsible fishing practices in Belizean waters.
“I am excited… My first step will be to meet with our allies and supporters, listen and to make plans for the next steps needed to win more campaigns for Belize and our reef,” she said.
Mr Young said that while The Lodge at Chaa Creek is located inland in the pristine rainforests of Belize’s ancient Maya heartland, the eco resort has a long association with Belize’s Caribbean attractions.
“In addition to our several popular “Rainforest to Reef” all-inclusive Belize vacation packages, we’ve been introducing our guests to Belize’s Caribbean treasures and islands such as Ambergris Caye for over 30 years, so there’s a lot of history and attachment there,” he said.
“Besides, in a country only some 180 miles long by 70 miles wide, what affects one aspect of ecotourism affects us all. And now, with Tropic Air’s direct flights from our doorstep at Maya Flats to Ambergris Caye, our links to our Caribbean partners are closer than ever,” he added, pointing out that Belize is unique in being able to offer excursions to ancient Maya cities, lush jungles and the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean all in one day.
Oceana is the world’s largest international advocacy group focused solely on protecting oceans, claiming to have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. With more than 600,000 supporters including former US president Bill Clinton, actors Morgan Freeman, Nicolas Cage, Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford and recent visitor Kate Walsh, Director James Cameron, musicians Sting and Ben Harper and many other well-known celebrities, Oceana has the clout to make a difference in tiny Belize, Mr Young said.
“It’s a big job, a huge responsibility on the world stage, and we’re proud to have someone with such a unique Belizean perspective as Janelle to advocate for our resources while Chaa creek continues its environmental sustainability work inland,” Mr Young said.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek is an award winning eco resort set within a 365 acre private nature reserve in Belize. Oceana maintains offices in North, South and Central America and Europe.