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May 15, 2018

Checking on the Fish You Eat

Over the past few months, the Wildlife Conservation (WCS) has been rolling out a mobile app used to determine local fish consumption. The app, which is compatible with android phones, is being utilized to record which species of fish and how many pounds are being eaten. It is just one part of a bigger sustainable seafood campaign called “Fish Right, Eat Right’. Today we spoke with the WCS about the app called “Our Fish” and why it is important that fish sellers and buyers use it. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has the story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Do you know how much fish is being eaten in Belize? No one really knows. But the Wildlife Conservations Society (WCS) wants to change that. They have launched “Our Fish” – it is a free mobile app being used to track the species and pounds of fish being consumed in country. The WCS says it is important that we know how much we are eating so that we can sustainably manage our fish stocks.

 

Jon Ramnarace

Jon Ramnarace, Technical Assistant-Enforcement Technology, WCS

“We know what we are exporting in terms of lobster, conch and a very small amount of fish fillet, but we have no idea what our local consumption through-out the country is. The reason we want to know this information is so that we can properly manage our seafood resources. This data that we gather is analyzed by our science team and our results are shared with the Government of Belize, NGO’s, other stakeholders who assist in managing these resources.”

 

WCS’s Jon Ramnarace explains how managers can use this voluntary, data sharing app to make the right decisions to manage our marine resources.

 

Jon Ramnarace

“What needs to be put into effect for this management? If the resource is diminishing, what we can do to not only help the fishermen who depend on it for a livelihood, so they can still make a livelihood. How we can also help the natural resource itself how to bounce back and what are the steps we can take. Some of those might be things like different programs for the fishermen to branch off into different areas of business while this happening, whether it be giving them another area where we can have them fish and it is many other different things.”

 

An estimated fifteen thousand Belizeans earn their living through fishing. Belize earns over ten million U.S. dollars in revenue from seafood exports and marine resources are a big part of our tourism offerings. So, the economic value of this industry is tied directly to our national development.  And, as Ramnarace explains, overfishing can wipe out certain species, so we must find out local consumption levels.

 

Jon Ramnarace

“There is a finite amount of resource out there and if we don’t manage it properly we will come to the end of it. It is not like we haven’t seen it before. We have actually seen it with the sawfish species, which totally due to over-fishing we have decimated that population and it is now totally extinct in our country.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Like in the past we have seen the parrotfish threatened?”

 

Jon Ramnarace

“…as well. I think they are doing better now that the regulations came into place. But we do not want to see that for our conch, lobster, snappers, that we love so much before it is too late.”

 

“Our Fish” is an easy to use android compatible app that targets buyers and sellers of seafood such as finfish, conch and lobster. Ramnarace explains how it is used.

 

Jon Ramnarace

“At the moment we are targeting resorts, restaurants, bars, anywhere that is selling seafood; fish sellers, retailers, as well, we are targeting with the app. It is very simple to use. Basically, they would open the app when they are purchasing fish from the fishermen, they would select the specie of the fish, the total poundage, and their purchasing price and they would give them a total for the price they are paying and it would record the data of the fish that they have bought.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

For more details on the app, contact Jon Ramnarace at the WCS at 223-3271. On Wednesday, we’ll share more about the “Fish Right, Eat Right’ campaign and how the app fits in.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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