AToN are “traffic signals” that guide boat operators safely along some waterways. They also identify dangerous or controlled areas and give direction and information. In Belize, buoys with lights and lighthouses are used as aids to navigation. These navigational lights play a vital role in Belize’s coastal waters and are of national interest. There are eighteen (18) lighthouses countrywide with seven (06) being manned by the Belize Port Authority.
Belize also has an international obligation under the SOLAS Convention to ensure safe passage of vessels calling to our international ports. The provision of updated nautical charts and AtoN are in fulfillment of that obligation. Belize, through the Belize Port Authority, is required to comply with the international standards with respect to maintenance of these AtoN. This includes specific colour scheme and shape of the AtoN, frequencies, positions, and a timely response to AtoN which are missing, out of position, dull or is compromised in any way.
Belize is the home of the world’s second-largest natural barrier reef system and hundreds of small islands that are priceless to the country. In protecting these natural resources, the Authority operates a series of manned lighthouse stations and aids to navigation in selected harbours and waterways as part of its maritime safety programme.
MARKING OF CHANNELS
A green buoy with green light marks the right (starboard) side of a channel when leaving the harbour and a red buoys with red light marks the left (port) side of a channel. The reverse applies when coming back into the harbour.
Tying up, hanging unto ( except a mooring buoy or beacon) or destruction of a buoy is prohibited and illegal. Anyone caught in violation will be criminally charged.
ACTIONS DURING RESTRICTED VISIBILITY
In times of restricted visibility (fog, heavy rain) a bell, horn or whistle should be sounded by vessels to alert other vessels in the vicinity of their approach.
These navigational lights play a vital role in Belize’s coastal waters and are of national interest.