It’s the first time a developing country will prefer tourism and wildlife over oil and money. When most countries are seeking ways to increase their natural richness, Belize has decided to stop oil drilling in its oceans permanently. This new legislation comes at the same time President Trump opens US waters to oil and gas drilling.

Belize took this step to protect its amazing coral reef and the colorful ecosystem that thrives all around the island. Belize’s barrier reef is a World Heritage site and the major tourist attraction of the island. Mesoamerican reef scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, Dr. Nadia Brood stated that the new act suspending all oil activities including seismic research as well as actual drilling makes Belize a world leader in ocean protection.

Among the 1,400 species that thrive in the barrier, reed is the hawksbill turtle, manatees and six threatened species of shark. Over 450,000 people signed the WWF’s global campaign to end oil exploration in the area, but it was the governments understanding that their barrier reef was in danger from oil exploration, construction, and drilling. Belize brings in around $210 million a year from tourism, and their fishing industry supports over 180,000 people. The long shot is that Belize will not maintain a constant income and a thriving industry by supporting nature and not exploiting it.

Just to show how important the barrier reef is to Belize, they produce around 3,000 barrels of oil per day, a tiny amount when compared to giants such as the US and Iraq, but enough to generate around $75 million a year. This is a large amount of income to give up, but it proves how serious Belize is and how much they believe in their attraction as a natural water reserve and not an oil refinery.