Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2019. 9:37 am CST.
By BBN Staff: On November 15, Rangers from the Southern Environmental Association (SEA) along with two Belize Coast Guards responded to a report of a gill net found by tour guides while on a dive tour at the north Silk Caye Wall within the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR).
The gill net was retrieved by the tour guides and taken to Ray Caye Island Resort.
On the dock of the resort, SEA’s enforcement team assisted in the measurement of the net and recorded the quantity and species of the bycatch.
The length of the net was 450 feet and the bycatch included: 21 Reef Sharks, 4 Horse Eye Jacks, 2 Yellow Jacks, 1 School Master and 1 Chub.
The owner of the gill net is unknown as no tag was attached.
SEA notes that the use of gill nets in Belize has caused significant damage to delicate marine ecosystems.
Gill nets are an indiscriminate fishing gear for which the by-catch often includes endangered marine species.
SEA supports a ban on gillnet fishing within Belizean waters and reminds the public that the use of gill nets whether tagged or untagged is illegal within the marine protected area.
The public is encouraged to report the use of gill nets to our office immediately at 523-3377 or to our rangers at 625-0137.
Note: Chapter 210 of the Fisheries Act 2003 states that 1) No person shall with intent to take fish, use any trap or other device constructed of net or wire in any area within a distance of one hundred yards of the Barrier Reef. 2) Fisheries Officers may inspect any net he may see in the country of Belize and may confiscate any net for further inspection and decision by a magistrate. 3) All gill nets should have a tag issued by the Belize Fisheries Department upon registration of nets. 4) No person shall have in his/her possession net that by itself or joined exceed 300meters and have a minimum mesh size of 3 inches except for cast nets.
SEA thanked the tour guides of Ray Caye Island Resort for retrieving the illegal gillnet from the GSSCMR.
In addition, SEA thanked all stakeholders and, in particular, the Belize Coast Guard for their continued support in marine conservation.
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