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Mar 30, 1998

B.F.C.A. launches new aqua-culture project

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Observers in Belize’s fishing industry have noted that the number of fishermen plying their trade in our territorial waters is on a steady increase, while at the same time the precious resource they are all after keeps getting less and less. Experts at the Fisheries Department say the country’s fisheries resources are under pressure, and results already visible include unpredictable catch and in the case of some species evidence of decline. All that may be about to change, however, as the Belize Fishermen Cooperatives Association has embarked on a Snook Aqua-Culture Project which will encourage fishermen to diversify. It’s a bold strategy and one which will take careful planning and huge investments to make it work. But according to Chairman of the B.F.C.A., Allan Bevans Green it was only after carefully considering all options open to them that the decision was taken to give snook farming a try.

Allan Bevans Green, Chairman, B.F.C.A.

“For a fast and the most valuable return right now is the snook. Because the snook is the prime fish on the market right now and if we went into tilapia, which is overcrowded in the market, the return will be very small. The snook right now is something like five U.S. a pound in the Central American markets. And we are trying to see that if we could move some of the fishers from the fishing industry and put them in aqua culture farming.”

Q: “How easy do you think that will be to make the transition from traditional fishing to alternative fishing?”

Allan Bevans Green

“Well, it will not be an easy task but with the guidance and pilot project and taking few of the fishermen in the pilot project and start training them, in that way, we feel that we could start to get through with that area there.”

Bevans says that the Association is in the process of setting up a board of directors to oversee implementation of the project which is expected to start shortly.

While the Snook Aqua-Culture Project looks good on paper, those who will be responsible for seeing that everything goes as planned know that it will take lots of hard work and a corresponding amount of money. But the latter is one less concern the B.F.C.A. has to worry about. At a brief ceremony this morning at the Chateau Caribbean Hotel in Belize City, the projects funding partner, the Canadian Cooperatives Association, handed over the first installment of its contribution to the project. The check for seventy thousand five hundred dollars was handed over to the Chairman of the B.F.C.A., Allan Bevans Green, by the C.C.A.’s Regional Field Manager for the America’s, Oscar Brown Stamp.

Oscar Brown Stamp, Regional Field Manager, C.C.A.

“C.C.A. has been working since 1984 with B.F.C.A. We have a two way contribution: we have supported them, they supported us. They presented this project and this projects answering key issues like environment, income generating for the fishermen’s family and those are two key elements that it’s decided that we support B.F.C.A. and also because of this long and fruitful relation with the fishermen in Belize.”

Hubert Elrington, Minister of Cooperatives

“And obviously the aqua-culture business, the mari-culture business is the way forward for the fishing industry. We have almost reached saturation point, in terms of the returns that we can get from the coastal fishing and therefore if we are going to be able to expand the fishing industry of Belize, we have to go into this kind of venture.”

Q: “So in terms of the support, how do you see that coming from Government for the project. Will it be in money or in kind?”

Hubert Elrington

“Well we will have to find what is needed. If money is needed, we will have to find it. And if it’s kind that’s needed, we will have to find it. We are committed to this venture; we want to be a full partner with the fishermen, the cooperative association and the Canadian Cooperative Association. We want to be a full partner too.”

The total cost of the project is a little under seven hundred thousand Belize dollars.

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