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Jun 2, 2016

National Fisherfolk Month is Launched

June is being celebrated as Fisherfolk Month in Belize. To kick-off the celebration, an open day was held on Wednesday at the B.T.L. Park where related agencies and conservation groups displayed the services they offer to the fisheries industry which contributes about three percent to the G.D.P.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Today at the B.T.L. Park on Newtown Barracks, Belize City, the Wildlife Conservation Society, in collaboration with its partner agencies, officially launched Fisherfolk Month. It marks the start of a number of activities to celebrate fishers and their importance in the industry, including the fishermen forums in Sartenaja and Punta Gorda, a lionfish tournament in Placencia and the annual lobster fests. Today’s opening also featured booths by the Belize Fisheries Department and several conservation N.G.O.s that contribute to the fishing sector.

 

Nicole Auil-Gomez

Nicole Auil-Gomez, Country Director, Wildlife Conservation Society

“We are going to be celebrating fishermen and fisherwomen for the whole month of June. Today’s opening ceremony which ends in a little while will be followed by an all afternoon, until four o’clock open day and there are several booths where people are going to be demonstrating some of the conservation and benefits of fishing and sustainable fishing method. They are going to be talking about associations; the benefits of fishermen associations and cooperatives as those are the strengths to help bring forth change in the fisheries sector and fisheries governance.”

 

The open day provided the space to showcase the many services available to fisherfolks from Belize. According to Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade, the fisheries industry accounts for approximately three percent of the country’s GDP and as stakeholders, fishers must be recognized.

 

Beverly Wade

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator

“We look at the important role that fishermen play to our national economy, to our culture and to our communities and society on a whole. We often overlook the fishers themselves and it is a sector that is a dignified sector, as one of the fishers mentioned this morning. It is an honest living off a natural resource that our country has. So what we are doing today is to launch a month to look at the fishermen, to look at their activities, to look at how we could create a better enabling environment to them.”

 

Nicole Auil-Gomez

“It is the livelihoods that they are creating. They are creating something important for Belizeans. They are the ones out there. So really having a system in place that they can comply with is going to be a system that they can benefit from and that is what is key; what can benefit them and their children and their grandchildren from the long-term for this country. And the only way it will be done is doing it sustainably.”

 

There is currently a delegation from the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organization in country looking at Belize’s best practices in integrating the marine reserves into the fisheries management regime in Belize. Wade says that the industry has grown over the years, with the implementation of a fisheries management regime. But on the occasion of International Fishermen Day, a significant piece of global policy is being introduced to further boost the practice of sustainable fishing.

 

Beverly Wade

“It’s an ongoing process to work with not only the fishers but other partners that we have, conservation community and other management organizations to look at more and more strengthening our suitability regime over time. Yes there are areas like gillnets that we want to look at, but we have to look at it from holistic standpoint. To look at it from the standpoint that there are fishers that have been using that gear for generations and to look at it from a livelihood standpoint. To see how we could present alternatives to them; to see how we could now introduce better practices in terms of gears to them. Today is also important because it also leads to Fishermen Day, which is an international day on June twenty-ninth. And the theme for Fishermen Day this year is for the implementation of the international voluntary guidelines for sustainable small scale fisheries. And this is a significant piece of global policy. For the first time there is an international instrument in place which now speaks to sustainable small call fisheries and what it is, is a policy which focuses also on the welfare on the livelihood of the people engaged in that fishery and to very much ensure, for the first time, saying to government, saying to partners, you must now engage these people in terms of the decision-making, in terms of the policy formulation. It’s the best practice that you can have and it is the best approach that will now lead to long terms sustainability.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

The month-long activities culminate on June twenty-ninth with Caribbean Fisherfolk Day and the Fisher of the Year award ceremony. Season Two of Punta Fuego, a radio drama that highlights issues surrounding the fishing sector, will also be launched during this month. 

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1 Response for “National Fisherfolk Month is Launched”

  1. Hatari says:

    Just hope they are taught how to obey our conservation laws.

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