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Fishing Managed Access Program Consultation Held in San Pedro - With the country looking at a decline in the fishing industry, dwindling supply of fish and marine products and the effects of overfishing, the Belize Fisheries Department is looking into implementing a Fishing Managed Access Program that will secure fishing grounds and empower fishermen to secure sustainable fishing practices.

What this means is that commercial fishermen will be required to obtain a fishing license that will allow them to fish in selected fishing zones pertaining to where they live and prevent them to infringe on other fishermen’s work zones. This practice will ensure what fishermen have their own areas that will provide for them and will not create the overfishing of marine life in specific areas of the country.

The Fisheries Department is moving away from open access fishing practices that allows anybody to fish anywhere in the country to the implementation of a managed access program that will limit their fishing zones but also ensure that each fisherman’s zone is protected from others who are not allowed to fish in.

Belize Sets New Laws for Commercial Fishing, Moving to Managed and Sustainable Practices

Commercial fisherman Alfredo Rubio

The program is being implemented in every coastal community in the country, with each area forming a Community Managed Access Committee. The first of many organizing meetings was held in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, with the goal to form a local island committee. The first meeting was poorly attended, but President of the San Pedro Committee Alfredo Rubio, is working on getting the information across to all commercial fishermen on the island in order to form a strong committee.

Rubio was among the participants introductory seminar of the Fishing Managed Access Program that was held in December 2015 by the Belize Fisheries Department. He has been appointed the president of the San Pedro committee and is seeking six more members.

Rules and regulations will be set by Fisheries that commercial fishermen will have to adhere to or be fined when they infringe on them. These local committees around the country will serve to better inform all fishermen of these new fishing laws and for them to protect their zones with recommendations that they come up to present to the national board.

Under the program, Belize fishing grounds will be divided into eight fishing zones, out of which San Pedro commercial fishermen will be allowed to fish in two of the zones. The zoning of fishing grounds will allow the Fisheries Department to better regulate fishing laws and protect the marine environment. Each committee will be responsible for reporting illegal activities and self-policing their designated fishing zones with the support of a national authority.

Belize Sets New Laws for Commercial Fishing, Moving to Managed and Sustainable Practices

Components of the Fishing Managed Access Program

Zoning: Recognize fishermen by giving them access to fishing grounds they depend on for their livelihood.
Licensing: Secure the rights to fish via a transparent, accountable and easier process for licensing.
Managed Access Committees: Fishermen will have the power to elect representatives to look after their interests and provide recommendations to better manage the fisheries.
Improved Enforcement and Compliance: Builds awareness and appreciation for better stewardship leading to less illegal fishing.
Science: Help measure improvement in fisheries and guides management decisions.
Monitoring and Catch Logs: Fishermen contribute to management by providing data that can be used to make sound management decisions.
Products and Markets: Improved quantity and quality of product for better prices and access to markets.

For more information on the program and joining the San Pedro Committee contact Alfredo Rubio at 635-4224, Isabel Magana at 602-7702 ([email protected]) or Andres Aldana at 632-8457 ([email protected]) of the Belize Fisheries Department.

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