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Jul 12, 2016

Coast Guard Wants Gillnets Banned

The destructive nature of gillnet fishing remains a perennial issue for the Fisheries Department.  It is also a serious concern for conservationists, as well as environmentalists, since the practice results in the random capture of unwanted species.  While those organizations have been active in discouraging the use of large commercial fishing nets, the Belize National Coast Guard has also been at the forefront of the law enforcement effort to seize gillnets in Belizean waters.  An area of concern as of late has been near Monkey River, at a location known as Rocky Point.  According to Commander John Borland, several seizures have been made recently.

 

John Borland, Commander, BNCG

“We in the coastguard observe gillnet fishing as a destructive method because of its indiscriminate nature and, you know, we are against the use of gillnet fishing and we’ve had personal and up close experiences, particularly in the area of concern [which] is the area north of the Sarstoon.  As of recent we had a major case in the area near to Monkey River that’s called Rocky Point, where again a number of gillnets were seized.  And again, a number of species were harvested that were not meant to be harvested, you know, collateral damage, by-catch, waste catch, you know.  We cannot continue to have that happen.  It’s not good for the ecosystem, it’s not good for the fishing industry and it’s not good for those who depend or have their livelihoods based on fisheries so yes, we are taking a close look at gillnet fishing and of course we were opposed and we are against the indiscriminate use of gillnet fishing.”

 

John Borland

Isani Cayetano

“Are you guys working closely with the authorities within the fisheries or the natural resources [sector]?”

 

John Borland

“Yes.  All coastguard officers are fisheries officers by extension, so we have the authority to enforce fisheries laws along with the Fisheries Department or independently on our own.  The training that we receive comes largely from the Fisheries Department to empower us to do this on their behalf.  So we work very, very closely with the Fisheries Department and of course we work very closely with the environmental department because as you all know, the coastguard is perhaps the teeth arm or the enforcement arm of all of those agencies that have a responsibility at sea that lack an enforcement arm.”

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