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Oceana responds to fishermen associations over gillnet disagreement

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020. 10:53 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Following a joint statement issued yesterday by several fishermen associations rejecting a $2.5 million proposal to help end gillnet fishing in Belize, Oceana Belize has responded by presenting facts that counter key assertions made in the joint statement.

The joint statement, issued by the Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association (BFCA), the Shark Fishers Association (SFA), Hopkins Fishermen Association (HFA), Central Belize Fishers (CBF), Mango Creek Fishermen Association (MCFA) and the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO) said: “…responsible gillnet fishing has been practiced in Belize for decades and that the practice is not
destructive; the proposal would deprive fishermen of over $25 million in income over a ten-year period; and that Oceana Belize is pushing a foreign agenda, among other things.”

Oceana notes that in December 2019, the Government of Belize issued a statement declaring gillnet fishing a destructive practice, and asked the NGO community to commit additional resources to support the transition of licensed Belizean fishers with a Gillnet license.
Addressing income, Oceana noted that fishers do not pay income tax on the basis that their income is below the annual threshold of BZD $26,999.

“Oceana is a registered not for profit, Belizean non-governmental organization. We have been supporting the call of Belizean fishers and
tourism stakeholders given this was asked of us during our feasibility studies in 2008,” said Oceana Belize’s Vice President, Janelle Chanona. “Moreover, this is a Belize issue, supported by a number of marine conservation organizations, tourism stakeholders and the general public. This is a case study of Belizeans working together to ensure that Belizeans will always be able to benefit from Belizean resources.”

Notably, the Government of Belize has already pronounced gillnet fishing a destructive practice after much research and consideration,

which was done in consultation with Belizean fishermen. As such, GOB is proceeding with its scheduled phase-out of gillnets, with an eventual ban in the works by the end of 2020.


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