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Oct 12, 2018

Audubon Tackles Illegal Fishing and Empowers Fisherfolk through Entrepreneurship

On October first, the fishing season of the Queen Conch officially opened. Conch represents a significant source of revenue for traditional fishermen across Belize, and generates millions of dollars for Belize’s economy. But the conch, like the lobster, is a fishery that must be sustainably managed, hence the closed season. But even then, conch and lobster are preyed upon by illegal fishers who either fish during the closed season, in protected sites or fish for undersized products. The Fisheries Department and its partners like the Audubon Society have implemented a number of mechanisms over the years to stop the illegal fishing. Earlier this week, we showed you a softer approach through the boat to boat strategy that Audubon is championing. Executive Director Amanda Acosta shares how her organization is working to try to curb illegal fishing in Belize, outside of the managed access programme.

 

Amanda Acosta

Amanda Acosta, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“The second is a harder approach which we saw a few weeks ago and every now and then you catch it on our facebook or on the news. It is where we have information and we carry out operations with Fisheries and the police at times, where it is more a hard line where the purpose is to arrest, the purpose is to deter, the purpose is for fines and confinement because you will have your fringe people who don’t care about the rules, they don’t want to be a part of the traditional way of how things are done. Or they try to justify it to say that the situation is that bad that it merits them proceeding in an illegal way. And we have to make that clear, this is illegal out of season fishing. You won’t get arrested doing law abiding stuff, so we have that hard approach. And then we also have an alternatives livelihood program. Our third approach is if things are really hard out there, if we want you to follow the rules then there has to be a way for you to make money in addition to just fishing. And I think in a lot of cases, they will tell you if you want to ensure your status of living and you are not making the money you are used to, you diversify. So, what we have done, we run a different couple programs. We’ve done entrepreneurship training with BELTRAIDE where we are trying to build life skills with book-keeping, the idea of small business plans. And try to come up with innovative ideas of how you can find additional funding.”

 

Next week, we will take you to Chunox and Copper Bank to show you how Audubon has used the grants to empower fisherfolk and their families through the creation of small businesses.

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