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The Belize Barrier Reef is the second biggest barrier reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Belize’s barrier reef, which extends from a few hundred yards to as much as 40 kilometres offshore, stretches 250 kilometres from tip to tip.
As with many of the world's underwater environments, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is under constant threat. Presently the main places which need protecting are the fish spawning aggregation areas and conch and lobster breeding and migratory areas. There are different types of preservation zones, total no take zones and more structured zones. For example, grouper and snapper spawn during certain lunar cycles during the year, therefore the protection from fishing needs only to be enforced during these time periods. Currently, the Belize Department of Fisheries have wardens in the area to monitor the activities of the fishermen. Proposed new laws due to be passed in 2009 will help to further protect the fragile eco system which has a history of overfishing.
Pleasingly, the relationship between ocean and land in Belize is intimate and comparatively trouble-free. Its waters are largely unpolluted and more than 40 percent of the country is under formal protection.
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