Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2019. 1:17 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: It’s not his usual bailiwick despite an economics background, but Minister of National Security John Saldivar took to social media yesterday, providing his government’s opinion on the issue of gill net usage and attempts to get it banned by environmentalists.
OCEANA, the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage, Southern Environmental Association, Belize Territorial Volunteers and the Belize Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) all reacted negatively to Government’s decision to stage a phased implementation of removing gill nets while ensuring their users can find an alternative source of income.
Saldivar, while not revealing his own position, makes note that “There is general consensus that there should be a ban on the use of gill nets and this is a consensus shared by a majority in Cabinet.” But he contends that the established gill net users cannot be ignored, nor deprived of their livelihoods, and that with an outright ban now, immediate transition to alternative work is “an impossibility.”
The offer of $2 million by the environmental groups is “not enough to help with loss of income, to retrain, teach new skills, purchase new equipment, and start up new businesses, to create a new way of earning a living,” argues Saldivar.
In Government’s plan, it will not grant new licenses and when the last gill net user is done, Saldivar suggests, then there will be no more usage. It also gives current users a chance to properly transition to retirement or other means of livelihood.
He calls on the environmentalists to go ahead and assist gill net users to stop and transition, taking a “glass half full” approach, and reminds that human subsistence remains paramount despite its commitment to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable use.
The environmentalists meanwhile say they haven’t given up.
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