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Belize borrows $14 million to promote sustainable growth in fisheries industry

EU Fishing Ban on Belize

Posted: Tuesday, October 17, 2023. 4:01 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Amid renewed complaints by the Opposition of more borrowing, the Government passed a motion to borrow BZ$14 million (US$7 million) from the Inter-American Development Bank for a Promoting Sustainable Growth in the Blue Economy Program.

The listed aims of the program are as follows: (i) create an enabling environment for the sustainable and resilient management of the fisheries sector; (ii) provide direct support to the sustainable development of the Finfish Fishing Industry; (iii) strengthen the sustainability and resilience of the Spiny Lobster and Queen Conch fishing industries; (iv) provide direct support to artisanal fisherfolk in Belize; and (v) strengthen the institutional capacity to improve data collection, management and analysis of information from the fisheries sector.

In introducing the motion, Prime Minister John Briceño warned that Belize could go the way of Barbados, Jamaica, and fellow Caribbean countries in losing marine life by overfishing and this program intends to use science to help manage our resources: “This $7 million that we’re borrowing is going to help the Fisheries Department under the Ministry of the Blue Economy to be able to do the research, to use the science to show how it is that we’re going to manage our resources sustainably going forward, and secondly, a portion of the funds is going to be used directly with our fisher folks to help them to do two things: one, to learn how to be able to manage our resources sustainably, but also to look at other opportunities that may be made available to them, such as for instance, fly fishing. That now has become a huge sport in Belize. It is bringing in over $250 million dollars U.S., half a billion dollars per year. And it continues to grow, and it is catch and release. So that the people now that are doing, are doing fly fishing, with our tourists. The guys that are doing that now are making even a lot more money than when they were fishing for lobsters or conch and so forth.”

Opposition Leader Moses “Shyne” Barrow signaled support but once again highlighted the “pathological, obsessive borrowing” which to him suggested dishonesty in the Government’s report of a booming economy as we should have a surplus to draw from. Later, Patrick Faber pointed that with this motion, the Government has borrowed up to $912 million in its time in office (against claimed reductions in debt from the retirement of the Superbond and efforts to reduce the debt to Venezuela from Petrocaribe).

Minister of the Blue Economy Andre Perez (who is on leave of absence from his Ministerial post but remains area representative for Belize Rural South) rose to point out that the motion follows from a carefully planned study whose recommendations are now being implemented. About $6 million in the loan, he said, will directly support 80 traditional fisherfolk in the village of Sarteneja, Corozal District, in learning to practice sustainable fishing of conch, lobster and stone crab. He also saluted the Fisheries Department for the work it has done in promoting sustainable fishing.

 

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