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Jan 11, 2017

Guats Spread Gill Nets in Belizean Waters Down South

Wil Maheia, the leader of the Belize Territorial Volunteers, continues to keep close watch on illegal activity at and near the mouth of the Sarstoon River, half of which is considered Belizean territorial waters. For the past few years, the area has seen persistent depletion of resources by Guatemalan fishermen who – with the exception of a short period in the last quarter of 2016 – have gone unchecked by Belizean authorities. Last week Wednesday, Maheia observed some ten to twenty Guatemalan fishermen north of the Belize Defence Force’s Sarstoon Forward Operating Base, clearly in Belizean waters. Today, he made another visit and observed something else of concern.

 

On the Phone: Wil Maheia, Leader, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“I just got back from the Sarstoon, less than an hour ago, and again, we saw a bunch of Guatemalans setting their nets inside Belize’s waters.”

 

 

Reporter

“Are these gill nets or other…?”

 

 

On the Phone: Wil Maheia

“Gill nets, gill nets, gill nets.”

 

Belize’s environmental groups like OCEANA have actively called for reducing and eventually ending the use of gill nets by fishermen. Maheia pointed out that for sure, the Guatemalan armed forces would not turn a blind eye if Belizeans were to start fishing in Guatemalan territorial waters in the Sarstoon area. The BTV leader also reported that in the last few weeks, Guatemalan fishermen seemed to have caught so much marine product that they went into Barranco to ask fishermen in that village to sell their produce. He is calling on the new agriculture minister, Senator Godwin Hulse to have the fishing regulations enforced at the Sarstoon.

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