Fisheries Minister on the HOT SEAT
San Pedro Tour Guide Association president Billy Leslie calls this legislation “an insult to every resident of San Pedro and insult to every Belizean”. Leslie is referring to Government’s decision to apply a license to anyone who wants to engage in fishing. In simple terms this license will be charged unto any person who goes to the beach, the end of the lagoon or the end of a pier or even at the Boca del Rio with a fishing line and the intention to catch a fish or two for his children to have a decent fish meal.
Leslie very candidly explained to the listeners of the Reef Radio Morning Show that the original intention of the law was to apply a license fee unto certain people and only for certain species of fish. It was never intended to punish every Belizean desirous of enjoying a day in the sun casting his hand line or fishing rod.
Statutory instrument No.115 of 2009 dictates the terms of reference and stipulates the fees as follows: This SI is signed by Vincent Gillet for Coastal Zone Management Authority and by Hon. Rene Montero, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.
One Day Fishing $20.00
One Week Fishing $50.00
One Year Fishing $100.00
The people’s University, which is the common man and woman on the street is vehemently opposing this new proposed law based on the following observations:
- It is a totally new tax on every Belizean who has the right and privilege to go fishing on any given day.
- Hundreds of citizens, if not thousands like to go out sport fishing and at the same time catch a few fish for their table.
- If one has to pay $20 to (possibly) catch a few fish, then it is better to go buy a few fish from the few fishermen who set up wire traps.
- By the time you go and possibly get your license, you should already be returning from the beach. Most of the time one decides to go fishing at night on one’s free time.
- The minister of Fisheries is literally driving away our tourists to a friendlier destination at a time when we are already suffering a recession and a drop in tourist arrivals.
This tax will lay an additional financial burden on tourists who already have a steep price to pay with air travel, hotel, food, and tourist guide fees.
The Minister of Fisheries is in a hot seat and will put our government on the hot seat. He will put the Minister of Tourism on the hot seat. He will put our Town Board on the hot seat. But can the Minister comfortably sit on a cool seat. Yes he can. He can consult with our Minister of Tourism whom we assume is opposed to this new tax law and he can consult with our local Town Council which has already publicly expressed its opposition to the law. With the stroke of a pen, the minister can boil to his own death, or he can sit back on his comfortable seat and relax his next three years in office and perhaps guarantee another five more years. It is all up to the Minister.
Amendments to Fishing Laws to be Made
After much fanfare that the new fishing laws and fines created throughout the country of Belize, even more so on Ambergris Caye, the Coastal Zone Management released a press release after newspaper deadline, indicating that amendments will be made to the laws, much to the delight of the local fisherman.
- Press Release Coastal Zone Management, March 11, 2010 - The Coastal Zone Management Authority wishes to inform the public about certain changes that will soon be made to the new Sport Fishing legislation, S.I 115 of 2009.
The term ‘Sport Fishing’ will now be amended to define in more detail what sport fishing is and those groups that will be required to hold sport fishing licenses.
A Sport Fishing license will now be needed by two main groups of fishermen. Visitors (non-Belizeans, non-permanent residents), and Sport fishermen (Belizean or otherwise) who are looking to target the main Sport Fish species as listed in the Fisheries legislation (S.I.114 of 2009).
Exemptions are now being granted to all tour guides of Belize who possess a valid tour guide license upon application to the CZMA. Consideration is now being taken for full exemption for these tour guides.
In an effort to stimulate the love of fishing in our young people children under the age of 16 and ease the burden on elderly persons over the age of 65, exemptions for these two groups of anglers will also now be granted.
Exemptions will also now be granted to anglers who are simply fishing from a dock or pier as well as those who are fishing from the sea shore.
Another amendment to S.I. 115 of 2009 will only require the angler that is fishing to hold a sport fishing license. Other passengers who are not fishing will not need a sport fishing license.
The CZMAI remains committed to working closely with all stakeholders to allow for a smooth implementation of the new regulations.
Any questions about these new changes can be forwarded to the CZMA offices on Princess Margaret Dr. in Belize City or telephones: 501-223-0719, 501-223-5739 or 501-223-2616.