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Jul 27, 2016

Have Illegal Guatemalan Fishers Gone Away?

David Jones

Access to the Sarstoon was one major concern for Belizeans – another was the flagrant, brazen, unhindered illegal fishing not only on our side of the Sarstoon but all the way north to Barranco. From reports we’ve gotten unofficially, that situation seems to have been somewhat quelled, or at least not so brazen. Brigadier General Jones weighed in on that issue as well.

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, Belize Defense Force

“Inside the river, the B.D.F. is not going to enforce any law in there because we don’t have complete access to the river. As the minister has said, that river there is equal access in accordance to the 1859 Treaty…so Belizeans and Guatemalans have equal access so we cannot enforce the law in that river. If it is north of the river that goes clearly into Belizean territory, then it’s primarily a matter for the fisheries department or even the coastguard can enforce what is happening out at sea.”

 

Reporter

“Now sir funny you mention the coastguard because the coastguard has, from what we understand, absolutely no representation at the forward operating base. And also from information that we have been getting, there may be some sort of hesitancy—I am not sure if it’s on the B.D.F. part or on the ministry part—to have coastguard there at the FOB.”

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“There is no restriction to have coastguard there; I suspect there should return there anytime soon. There is an issue that they have raised in regards to how many they would like to have there. I don’t see an issue with them being there; they should be there anytime soon again.”

 

Reporter

“Sir when you speak about access to the entire Sarstoon River—that’s for vessels to go in—but what about fishing in our side or in our channel. How do we enforce that?”

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“Like I said, it’s equal access. It doesn’t speak about specific channel.”

 

Reporter

“But the treaty speaks of access to vessels; it is not talking about fishing and illegal fishing.”

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“Exactly. There is nothing in the treaty that says you cannot fish in there. it says that there is equal access. That’s what it says – equal access.”

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