The Belize Fisheries Department in partnership with the Florida International University, the Belize High Seas Fisheries Unit and with the support of the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA) is pleased to announce some recent and significant achievements pertaining to the Sharks and Rays management and conservation initiatives in Belize.
1. A National Shark Working Group (NSWG) that was first established in 2012 was reactivated in 2016 and was given the responsibility for the revision and updating of the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA – Sharks). The updated NPOA – Sharks now provides the framework for management of the domestic small-scale shark fishery that operates in our territorial waters and for the Belize-flagged fishing vessels that operate in the high seas (international waters).
2. The Fisheries Department will convene a National Shark Workshop on October 5–6, 2017 and the NSWG will present the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks in Belize. The workshop will also serve to prepare a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) for Hammerheads shark species (Sphyrna mokarran and Sphyrna lewini) in compliance with provisions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
3. During the inaugural ceremony of the National Shark Workshop, the Government of Belize will endorse the establishment of a Ray Sanctuary in Belize. This will encompass the national protection of ALL ray species, securing their role in maintaining ecosystem functions, contributing to tourism and zero impacts to the fisheries sector.
The Fisheries Department wishes to reiterate its commitment to effectively execute its mandate to sustainably manage the fishery resources of Belize through the implementation of sound fisheries management interventions to ensure the sound management of sharks and conservation of rays in Belize.