Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2021. 1:16 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: According to Minister of The Blue Economy and Civil Aviation Andre Perez, he has not refused to meet licensed Belizean fishers; nor is he seeking to change Statutory Instrument No. 158, passed November 5, 2020, which bans the use of gillnets.
In fact, the Ministry is the subject of a lawsuit by the Belize Fishermen Cooperatives Association on the basis of a decision made by Dr. Omar Figueroa, former Minister of Fisheries, according to a statement issued this afternoon.
The Ministry says it categorically refutes the allegations made by the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries and Oceana Belize in their joint press release dated March 16, 2021, and titled “Lobby by Illegal Gillnetters Threatens Gillnet Ban”.
The Minister reports that the lawsuit came to him after assuming office and he sought legal advice from the Attorney General’s Ministry, as he was not privy to all the details of the process that eventually led to the implementation of SI No. 158 of 2020.
The Ministry of The Blue Economy says it is open to having discussions with the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries and Oceana Belize, but expresses its disappointment in the hastily drawn conclusions and aspersions cast. The Ministry expects that both organizations will commit to working with the Ministry to put in place proper management, oversight, and programmes to ensure the social protection of fishers and long-term sustainability of Belize’s aquatic resources.
The Ministry is being soundly built on a foundation of inclusivity, fairness, and transparency. Any efforts to make baseless attacks on the integrity on which the Ministry is founded will not be taken lightly and will be challenged vehemently every step of the way, the statement concludes.
More will be discussed at a virtual press briefing to be held this afternoon.
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