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Jun 26, 2015

Fisherfolk Honored

Ralna Lewis

On June twenty-ninth International Fishermen’s Day will be celebrated in Belize, as well as the wider Caribbean region. The Fisheries Department and several other organizations concerned with fisheries will be hosting a series of events to observe the economic, social and cultural contributions of Belizean fishers. Two of the participating organizations shared why this recognition is significant.

 

Ralna Lewis, Coordinator, NRZEP,

“It’s basically a means for us to celebrate our men and women involved in this fisheries sector starting from those who go out and catch the resources as well as those involved in the processing of resources, as well as those involved in the management of the resources. This is a very important sector for our economy. It contributes roughly about three percent to our GDP. It is a profession that sometimes get looked down, right. People regard fishers, okay. In actuality, it is very hard working profession. It is dangerous to be out there on the sea. A lot of times we hear about fishers getting captured or going missing on sea, as well as people thief their resources when they are out there. Recently, we have just had the opening of the lobster season and we have received reports that fishers are being attacked and their stuff stolen at sea. This is an important sector that contributes so much to our country. Think about our local dishes, our sere, our hudut, and fry fish. Think about the fact that it is so important for us, culturally, socially and economically.”

 

Nadine Nembhard

Nadine Nembhard, Administrative Assistant, Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organization

“The idea is to raise the profile of fishers and make them seen and recognized within the fishing industry. In so doing, we are giving them status and appreciation of their jobs. The challenges they face a lot has to do with the climate; climate change, not just in Belize but regionally and internationally. That’s a major challenge of fisher folk. From the basic fuel that they need to carry out a job and to purchase things to take out, their equipment, basic things like that. So, the idea is to improve their livelihoods. So, how do you do that? Is fishing making, are you making enough benefits and profits from the fishing. If not, would you like alternative livelihoods? There are currently alternative livelihoods projects to diversify fishing. You realize that some people don’t want to leave the sea, so how do we improve diversification. You go out, and maybe we can do deep sea fishing. So these are projects that we would take on nationally, and in communities to improve the livelihoods of fisherfolks.”

 

The observance will be kicked off with a Church Service on Sunday at the Central Assembly of God Church. On Monday, a blessing of the fisher folks’ boats will be held at the commercial centre, followed by an official opening ceremony and outstanding fisher award at the Coastal Zone Training Room and will end with the distribution of tokens of appreciation to fishers at landing sites and cooperatives at eleven.

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