Posted: Monday, October 2, 2023. 11:19 am CST.
By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: The Belize Audubon Society (BAS) and the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) joined forces for the commencement of the conch season on Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
The conch season officially opened on October 1, 2023, and is set to run until June 30, 2024.
The ‘boat to boat’ outreach activity was aimed at promoting sustainable fishing practices.
During a maritime activity, the joint team met 21 sailboats, where they engaged in discussions with 162 fishers aboard these vessels.
As the co-manager responsible for overseeing Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monuments, BAS conducts surveys related to conch, lobster, and reef health, all aimed at monitoring the ecosystem’s well-being and the fisheries’ overall status within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
In addition, the BAS disseminated fisheries data concerning the state of conch population in 2022 to the fisherfolk, recognizing them as the primary users of the designated fishing areas within the general use zone.
This concerted effort was further reinforced by the Belize Fisheries Department, which conducted a comprehensive review of the fisheries regulations pertaining to conch.
The organizations shared important updates regarding the industry.
The dates of the lobster season were adjusted to align with the standards set by OPESCA, the Organization of Fisheries and Agriculture in Central America, spanning from March 1 to June 30.
Additionally, the fishers received a detailed briefing on the revised boundaries for marine protected areas.
“The ‘boat to boat’ event proved to be an informative and productive experience for the fisherfolk, who stand as the primary stakeholders. Their knowledge, not only of the regulations but also of the health of the fisheries, indirectly contributes to the conservation of no-take zones and the promotion of abundance in the general use areas, which directly impacts their livelihoods,” the BAS noted.
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