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Sep 29, 2004

Maritime law enforcers coordinate tactics

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The marine areas of Belize, including internal waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone, total thousands of square miles…and policing this vast space presents formidable challenges for law enforcement authorities. That’s why it’s especially important that the Fisheries Department, BDF, police and Port Authority, join forces to make the best use of scarce resources. Today, over twenty senior officials of the different agencies came together for a one-day seminar during which they discussed ways of improving efficiency. National Security Coordinator Alan User says that as the country moves toward establishment of a Coast Guard service, it is necessary to standardize procedures for law enforcement at sea.

Alan Usher, National Security Coordinator

?There are several sea going agencies: the fisheries, the police, the BDF, the Port Authority and we find that with the acquisition of this new capability within these departments there are diversified procedures. So what we are doing is to bring these organisations to one standard procedure that is acceptable both nationally and internationally.?

?We want to achieve coordinated patrols. In other words, we would not wan to see a BDF boat, a police boat and a fisheries boat all on Glovers Reef; one looking out for Fisheries, one looking out for drugs smugglers, one for protection of our territorial integrity. We would like to see one boat on Glovers Reef, on Turneffe, with a policeman, a Fisheries officer, a military air support enforcing Belizean law within out sea spaces.?

Patrick Jones

?Do we have people breaking law at sea??

Alan Usher

?Yes, there is a constant pressure of fishing out of sea. There is constant pressure of people arriving illegally unto our shores from the sea, mostly from the south eastern approaches into Belize. And the problem that has been with us now for some time and that is drugs in large quantities being transported between the production country and the user, the supply and the user countries, transiting through Belizean waters. We feel that with aggressive patrols, coordinated aggressive patrols with composite crews we could enforce Belizean law within our sea spaces.?

Participants, who included senior enforcement officers, supervisors and managers, are now expected to go back to their respective departments and train their staff on how to maximize available resources in order to enhance the enforcement of maritime laws.

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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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