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Oceana says Belizean fishers could benefit from $2.5 million transition process if gillnet ban is decisive

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Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2020. 9:43 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Since 2009, Oceana has been supporting the call of Belizean fishers to have a form of fishing called gillnetting banned in Belizean waters.

In December 2019, the Government took the historic step of declaring this gear inherently destructive.

Since then, Oceana has been engaged with the Prime Minister, the Minister and Ministry of Fisheries to identify their role in the reasonable transition of Belizean users of this gear to alternate means of fishing.

Oceana says that at present, the total offer of transitional support to Belizean fishers has increased to 2.5 million Belize dollars, one million Belize dollars of which has been raised by Oceana.

“To this end, Oceana has shared a draft agreement that repeats the same clauses contained in the 2011 contract signed between the Government of Belize and Oceana when trawling was banned. This new agreement would be tied to a gillnet ban in the same way and would provide that if any future administration seeks to alter or lift the ban, specific measures, including notification of such intention as well as a repayment of funds provided for transitional support, will go into effect,” a statement from Oceana expressed.

If accepted, the Belizean fishers in need of transitional support would receive the maximum financial support possible: 2.5 million dollars.

The funds raised by Oceana would be used to buy gillnetting licenses from Belizean fishers via in cash, monthly payments made directly to fishers through the Belize Credit Union League, which would complement the supplemental income training opportunities program.

The agreement would also guarantee stability in their transition to other forms of fishing activities. And as it has done in the case of trawling, these clauses would effectively deter those interested in undermining the commitment of Belize’s commercial fishers to the long-term integrity of Belizean fisheries and marine habitats as well as undoing the critical leadership this administration has taken to support that commitment by mandating both accountability and transparency in the decision- making process.

Eligible gillnet fishers are asked to contact Oceana’s office at 822-2792 for more information on how they can document their support for the agreement and therefore, access the maximum amount of funds on offer for their transition away from gillnets.

Oceana wholeheartedly congratulates the Government and people of Belize on this historic policy change.

“Today’s announcement has been more than two decades in the making. This is the result of the passionate commitment of Belizean fishers, NGO partners and supporters of marine-based livelihoods to sustainable fishing practices”, says Janelle Chanona, Vice President of Oceana. “Oceana is proud to work with and champion the voices of Belizeans countrywide who never stopped advocating against this inherently destructive fishing gear.”

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