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Jul 6, 2017

Less Fishers But More Gill Nets in Sarstoon

Over the years, we’ve reported on the illegal fishing taking place in southern Belize. Hundreds of Guatemalans are fishing illegally in Belizean waters and it is an issue that Wil Maheia, the leader of the Belize Territorial Volunteers, continues to keep close watch at and near the mouth of the Sarstoon River, half of which is considered Belizean territorial waters. Over the years, the problem grew significantly and went largely unchecked by local authorities. On Wednesday, on the way up the Sarstoon – we didn’t observe the groups of fishing boats and nets in the waters – and so we asked Maheia to give us an update on the problem – he reported that it has improved significantly – pointing out the limited fisherman presence and nets on the waters in the morning.

 

Wil Maheia

Wil Maheia, Founder, BTV

“Coming here this morning, we are really relieved to see that the B.D.F. and the Coast Guard are really active along the coast line. We didn’t see any illegal fishing happening this morning; I have been there a couple weeks ago, so obviously I believe the presence of the B.D.F. and the coast guard is having an amazing impact. We saw dolphins when we were coming and this something we didn’t used to see before. This is an indication that there are more bay fish in the area because the B.D.F. and the Coast Guard are doing the patrols. I think that times like this we need to salute the military for the job that they are doing to stop the illegal fishing along southern coast of Belize.”

 

That’s what we saw going up the Sarstoon – a few boats and not many fish nets, but upon our return in the evening around five – there was a large number of huge gill nets in the water. The number of boats also grew – with fishermen out on the sea setting their nets and other patrolling Belizean waters to find their fishing spots. And so Maheia pointed out that while it has improved in some ways – the problem still exists and appears to still challenge our local authorities to contain.

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