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Jun 29, 2015

Fisheries Industry Recognizes Outstanding Fisher Folk…

The fishing industry is said to contribute approximately three to five percent to Belize’s GDP and employs several thousand locals. At the heart of the industry stand the front line people – the fisher folks and it’s not every day that we hear they are being recognized, but today is one exception. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Fisheries Department, Nature Conservancy and the Caribbean Network of Fisher-folk Organization celebrated five fishermen and women who were nominated to receive the recognition. Andrea Polanco joined them for the celebration today.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Today, the Wildlife Conservations Society and several of its partners recognized five fisher folks- men and women- with award for their dedication and commitment to their trade, as well as being stellar examples. Project Coordinator of WCS explains what set these five apart from all the nominations they received.

 

Ralna Lewis

Ralna Lewis, Project Coordinator, Wildlife Conservation Society

“Hold valid fisher folk license. They have a track record of abiding by fisheries regulations in Belize. They work hand in hand with local N.G.O.s and Fisheries Department and they are advocates for their fellow fishers and also integral part of associations and cooperatives within their cooperatives.”

 

Most Outstanding fisherwoman Ana Ramirez has been fishing for over four decades and she has seen many changes in the industry, from regulation to the availability of fish stocks.

 

Ana Ramirez

Ana Ramirez, Outstanding Fisherwoman

“Being a fisherwoman is great. It is sometimes I would say it is hard especially in those days when we had to paddle and sail, but we do it. I married and continue to do it. I raise my children with it and I educate them being a fisherwoman. To me then, it is very important and like weh deh she, when they call me for any meeting, I attend. I dah like this, I like to preserve and take care of many things.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, you’ve been fishing for many years. How much have you seen the industry change and grow?”

 

Ana Ramirez

“Ohhh! As I mention again, the managed access. When we get the managed access we see more product than before, not because the Belizeans finished it. No, we have a big, big group coming from the other countries and they just come and draw out. If we the take care of this area, they just come and take it away. We have a big problem with that down south and we fight and say things; that is the reason why managed access come fu mek we could preserve the little that we have. This year, well right now fu opening season we see lotta lobster so, I think it increase a lot, nuh like my time. Like how the lady say, back then me and my sista go and we pick four or five hundred conch shells, and we get the day but nuh now. If you pick fifty or hundred, you say aye, thank God, because none deh yuh understand it is very hard now.”

 

And just much of a role do fisher folks play? Their contribution is tremendous, especially in an industry that can be very dangerous.

 

Leavan Aldana

Leavan Aldana, Belize Federation of Fishers

“Without we, people dah Belize wouldn’t be able to enjoy the seafood- the lobster, the conch, the fish without we go out deh and get it. Many times you go places and people ask you weh you do fi ah job and you tell dem you dah fisherman and like nobody recognize you, you dah nobody. We play a big role inna this industry. Without we, none ah the foreigners deh couldn’t enjoy fish and conchs, deh enjoy go out deh fi fishing and all, we supply dem and help them with that. It also help all deh young youths who cyaa get wah job because deh nuh got wah degree, deh nuh finish school or wah associates, so dem come and we deh out deh, deh go out on boat and learn fi fish or learn deh trade instead ah go out deh and commit crime and steal and all ah that.”

 

Ana Ramirez

“Sometimes you inna dah sea deh, yuh bruk down and yuh know how you wah reach home. It’s hard and sea di blow like this. Yuh say hey I wah stay een yah or ah wah drown or yuh turn ova. That happened to me already, turn ova. Ah wah stay top ah the wata and I made it and go back home. Dah something weh yuh have to challenge yuh life, in anything, I say. I nuh think only inna fishing, any job you have. Fi me, it’s important to be a fisherwoman. So, I encourage any woman who wants to be a fisherwoman, I ready to train them.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“You’re very proud of it?”

 

Ana Ramirez

“Yes, very proud of it.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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