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Jul 8, 2016

Gillnets Remain a Destructive Force in Belize’s Fisheries Sector

Janelle Chanona

Where gillnets are concerned, News Five have seen those in extensive use primarily in the southern waters of the country, near the Sarstoon. And it’s not by local fishermen, but by Guatemalans whose livelihood is dependent on illegal fishing within Belize. According to Chanona the Coast Guard has also expressed concern via conversations and formal communication and has gone so far as to call for a ban on gillnets.

 

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“They say that they have had firsthand accounts of the destructive impact of gillnets on the marine environment, and their primary encounters with gillnets is in Southern waters where illegal cross-border fishing takes place. Our enforcement patrols have recovered gillnets that expand beyond reasonable distances and even more tragic, the indiscriminate catch by this fishing equipment. We do believe that a ban on gillnets will assist in the rehabilitation of the fragile marine environment and promote a more sustainable practice. The Coast Guard considers a healthy marine environment to be crucial to our coastal development and the preservation of our natural heritage. We look forward to working with Oceana and other interested parties to make this initiative eventually become legislative. And that’s from Commander Bennett from the Belize Coast Guard. So yes, we acknowledge that it will be sensitive given everything at play in terms of relations with Guatemala but as we’ve continued to underscore this is about taking of our resources. We’ve produced a documentary where fishers said look, at the end of the day when things are finished in Belize all the illegal fishers can go back to their homes. Where are the Belizean fishers going to go when it’s all gone and when it’s all done.”

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