By Zoila Palma: The Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation issued a statement today explaining the matter of Statutory Instrument No. 57 of 2021, which now allows for the participation of permanent residents in the fishing industry of Belize.
The Ministry says that under the previous administration, it issued legislation to exclude permanent residents from being eligible for commercial fishing licenses. The previous SI cited that licensed permanent residents were responsible for the depletion and overfishing of fish stocks in Belize. However, the Ministry says that there has been no data to validate that claim.
“Given the evidence that the fisher population in Belize is over 3,400, this number did not provide a justifiable basis for this exclusion. The ministry differs from the position recently expressed in the media that national fishery resources are overfished. The Fisheries Department has not established the overfishing of any commercial fisheries,” the Ministry said.
Furthermore, the Ministry noted that the permanent resident fishers as being the sole culprits in illegal fishing.
The Ministry added that permanent residents who have met the legal requirements should be afforded the opportunity to participate in the industry.
“As persons who are legally granted residence in Belize, it is the country’s responsibility to provide them equal opportunities to care for their families, especially their children, many of whom are Belizeans. The government’s role is not to marginalize but rather to put in place policies and programs that will result in a robust, fair, and profitable sector for all,” the statement added.
The Ministry further invites the guidance and input of all its partners in government, non-governmental organizations, and the wider community.