Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2019. 9:04 am CST.
By BBN Staff: The Government of Belize recently issued a statement detailing its latest actions against the use of gillnets, a destructive fishing practice; however, Oceana Belize says that the decision is a missed opportunity on GOB’s part as it turned down a $2 Million package that would have enabled fishers to transition away from gillnets.
GOB’s measures include an immediate moratorium on the issuance of gill net licenses to new persons and importation of gill nets will be restricted based on licenses.
All existing gill nets will have to be re-registered and licenses will now be for a seasonal duration. The allowable mesh size will be adjusted to lessen the likelihood of by-catch of protected marine species,” GOB added.
“Most importantly, the use of gill nets will be forbidden in the southernmost waters, south of Punta Gorda, that are important for ecological and biodiversity conservation. Related to this, the amendment to the Fisheries Regulations has already been enacted by the Minister of Fisheries to prohibit permanent residents from obtaining fishing licenses,” GOB said.
Oceana Belize issued its own statement not long after, noting that to enact the measures announced today GOB has turned down a two-million-dollar financial aid package that would have been disbursed to licensed Belizean fishers as part of their agreement to transition away from this indiscriminate and destructive gear. In 2018, those fishers numbered 83 persons.
The environmental NGO said that GOB had effectively maintained the status quo and protected the illegal and unlicensed users of this gear, while failing to safeguard the livelihood rights of the 97% of commercial fishers who do not use gillnets as well as the hundreds of Belizeans who depend on catch and release fishing in the tourism sector.
“The only thing going away is the money that would have gone to licensed Belizean fishers. Oceana’s advocacy against this indiscriminate and destructive gear continues,” said Oceana Belize’s Vice President Janelle Chanona.
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