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Aug 25, 2015

Guatemalan Poachers Fish in Belizean Waters

Gillnetting is a common fishing method that is closely monitored and regulated by fisheries management and enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, the practice used by commercial fishermen is not adequately controlled, despite a call from OCEANA in Belize to ban the exploitative use of gillnets.  The Sarstoon River is one such waterway that is littered with the twine nets, an unsustainable practice that is depleting saltwater and freshwater fisheries in the area. Guatemalan fishermen are said to be responsible for the practice. This morning, BTV front man, Wil Maheia, spoke briefly on the issue after retrieving several nets from the Sarstoon River.

 

Wil Maheia, Founder, BTV

“It’s totally wrong, it’s not sustainable.  You have a hundred or two hundred of these things as you can see this morning how many we saw and I’m sure they heard the reports that we were coming out here today so half of them probably didn’t come out today.  But, you know, this is how it is, we need enforcement in this area, we need a forward operating base.  If we had a forward operating base all this could be for Belize, it doesn’t have to be for Guatemala.  This is Belize’s territory and we need to have it protected for Belizeans.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Expedition Member

“Wil, right now are we in Belizean waters?”

 

Wil Maheia

“Hundred percent in Belizean waters.  We are north of the Sarstoon River which is a few hundred meters south of where we are.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“…because that’s one of the things in dispute because they will say that this is Guatemalan territory and so the Guatemalans have every right to be in here.”

 

Wil Maheia

“Anybody who tries to dispute this has no knowledge of where Belize’s borders are and if anyone tries to dispute this because you can see the river is behind us.”

 

At present fisheries enforcement activities within the area are severely lacking.

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