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Belize to publish vessel tracking data through Global Fishing Watch

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Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2021. 10:09 am CST.

By BBN Staff: OCEANA Belize informed that the Belize High Seas Fisheries Unit (BHSFU) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to make its vessel tracking data publicly available through the Global Fishing Watch map.

The map tracks the movements of commercial fishing vessels in near real-time.

“The agreement signed by the Belize High Seas Fisheries Unit (BHSFU), Oceana, and Global Fishing Watch, demonstrates Belize’s commitment to greater transparency in fishing activities at sea and is the result of Oceana’s collaboration with the government to increase transparency of Belizean-flagged fishing vessels on the high seas,” OCEANA said in a statement.

Valarie Lanza, Director of High Seas Fisheries of the BHSFU said that the unit is committed to innovative partnerships that support monitoring enforcement measures and activities.

 “Thanks to this joint effort/partnership we will be able to increase our vessel monitoring transparency efforts to better detect and prevent IUU fishing and explore how the use of additional platforms will contribute to the monitoring work carried out by the BHSFU,” Lanza said.

 “This is a demonstration of Belize’s fervent commitment to transparency and good governance. The use of the Global Fishing Watch technology is cost-effective, efficient and enhances vessel monitoring. The expanded data sets generated in near-real-time, also improve the quality of informed decision making when it matters most,” said Janelle Chanona, Vice President, Oceana Belize.

OCEANA explained that the Global Fishing Watch provides an unprecedented view of global fishing activity by using machine learning to interpret data from various vessel tracking sources, including automatic identification system (AIS) and vessel monitoring system (VMS) data.

Chief Executive Officer of Global fishing watch, Tony Long said that Belize’s decision to share its fishing vessel data on our public map, allows for an ever-clearer view of what’s taking place at sea.

Long said that Belize is paving the way for Caribbean cooperation and setting a global challenge for others to follow suit.

The Government of Belize’s resumption of control over the national ship’s registry, coupled with legislative amendments, specifically the adoption of the revised High Seas Fishing Act of 2013 and its subsidiary regulations, established a significantly enhanced regulatory framework for the management and control of Belize’s high-seas fishing fleet.

The Act establishes the Belize High Seas Fisheries Unit with specific responsibility for the regulation and control of high seas fisheries; and confers powers and functions to the BHSFU to conserve, manage and sustainably develop all resources in accordance with the Act.

This new agreement will enhance the BHSFU’s vessel monitoring capabilities by providing an added layer of monitoring, control and surveillance to its existing vessel monitoring framework.

This step is a testament to Belize’s commitment to transparency and leadership in high seas fisheries management.

 “Transparency will help to bring back fishery abundance,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Chief Policy Officer at Oceana.

Global Fishing Watch, in partnership with Oceana and other organizations, is committed to working with countries to publicly share their vessel monitoring data via the Global Fishing Watch map to supplement the publicly available AIS data for the advancement of responsible fisheries management.

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