Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2021. 3:48 pm CST.
By Zoila Palma: The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has named Caye Caulker’s Maria Allen, fisher of the year 2021.
Maria has been fishing for over 30 years and she continues to fish during the COVID-19 pandemic. Allen has been helping other fishers in her community, where she acts as a receiving agent for marine products on behalf of National Fishermen Producers Cooperative Society Limited.
Maria receives seafood products, namely conch, and lobster, from fishers in Caye Caulker and sends them to Belize City to the National Fishermen Cooperative processing plant.
She encourages her women friends to fish saying it offers an opportunity for self-employment and not having to depend on anyone for work.
Maria’s dad, Theodore Allen, is also a fisher and founding member of Northern Fishermen Co-op.
Maria says that she learned a lot about fishing from her father, as she would go fishing with him from a young age. She introduced her husband to fishing, and has two grown sons who are also fishers.
Together they build their own lobster shades and traps and do lobster fishing, deep-sea and shallow water fishing, and sometimes conch.
In addition, Maria and her family have a thriving stone crab business where they supply the highly demanded delicacy to numerous restaurants throughout Belize.
Maria says “fishing is an interesting job and you get to see different things every day; for example, on a rare occasion, you could find a lobster with three antennas.
Two other persons were also selected as Outstanding Fishers of the Year 2021, Victoria Tun of Dangriga and Nestor Lopez, of Corozal Town.
The Fisher of the Year will receive $2,000 cash prizes; while the two Outstanding Fishers will receive a combined total of $1,500 in cash and prizes.
Sponsors for the prizes include The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, Anderson’s Marketing Consultants, Oceana, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
The award coincides with the commemoration of Caribbean Fisherfolk Day under the theme: “Better Care for a Better Share – Building a Creative Small-Scale Fisheries Sector.”
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