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Jun 29, 2018

David Flores of Copper Bank is Belize’s Fisher of the Year

The celebration of fisherfolk month culminated today in Belize City with the Fisher of the Year Award. As a part of the celebrating and recognizing the contributions of fisherfolk to Belize’s economy, the Wildlife Conservation Society held activities throughout the month of June. Today, three persons were singled out and rewarded for being stewards of fisheries conservation, among other good work in the sector. Andrea Polanco was at today’s award ceremony and tells us more.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

David Flores of Copper Bank is Belize’s Fisher of the Year. The veteran fisherman was selected from a pool of other outstanding nominees in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Fisherfolk Annual Awards. Flores was not able to collect his award today because he is out at sea getting ready for the lobster season. Today, his son, Govany Flores, collected the winnings on his behalf – he tells us why he nominated his dad for the award.

 

Govany Flores, Son of Fisher of the Year Awardee

Govany Flores

“He is a good dad. He likes to fish. He has fifty-five, fifty-six years fishing. He likes his family and so when he comes back from fishing he gives fish to his family and sometimes he brings some for his friends also and sometimes he likes to help some of the people in the village.”

 

The WCS says that Flores is deserving of the award, as he is an active and contributing fisherman in Belize.

 

Ralna Lewis

Ralna Lewis, Assistant Country Director, WCS

“He is a member of the executive committee for the national cooperative society limited. He is actually the secretary for the committee. Mr. Flores was selected because of his contributions to his cooperative – advancing the movement of cooperatives in Belize. The national cooperative is currently undergoing a transformation where they are looking at improving their efficiency, looking at introducing a traceability system and looking at identifying additional markets for their members. So, one of the major things that they are looking at is the eventual exportation of live lobster which will obviously lead to an increase for the payment that the fishers receive. So, it is looking at how it will improve the lives of the fishers. So, those are some of the merits which allowed Mr Flores to be selected as the fisher of the year. He was also instrumental in advancing the national roll out of managed access across Belizean territorial waters, as well.”

 

Two other fishers, Paula Williams and Carl Cabral were also recognized for their contributions to the fishing industry.  Forty-year-old Paula Williams tells us what this recognition means.

 

Paula Jacobs Williams, Fisher of the Year Finalist

Paula Jacobs Williams

“Growing up in Punta Negra that is what my mother and father used to do. I grew up fishing and so I come home and catch my fish and cook my fish. I feel proud and happy of myself because I know that not only a man can do it, but a woman can do it better than a man.”

 

Lewis says this kind of recognition for the fisherfolk in Belize is important to shine a light on their many valuable contributions to the industry.

 

Ralna Lewis

“A lot of times in Belize we don’t recognize the importance of a livelihood like that of that profession. We see our fishers just going out and fishing and bringing back, but you don’t see the extent of that work that they are doing; being out there maybe seven days at a time, the type of hardship they have to endure at sea and the risk that they put their lives at as well. Out at sea is a very risky job, so it is a means for us to recognize them, recognize the importance that sector provides to our economy and our society. A lot of us depend on food, it is a major part of our diet and it contributes to our nutrition, as well. So, they are contributing towards Belize’s food security and so that is a means for us to recognize them.”

 

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

 

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