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Jul 12, 2013

Throw a line in the workshop for fishermen

The Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association today held a training workshop in Belize City geared towards fishermen and focusing on fisheries laws and regulations, good fisheries practices and product quality. It was a spirited session with representation from the Fisheries Department, the Coast Guard, the Police Department and the cooperatives. Mike Rudon stopped in at the workshop today and found out that while the fishermen are very vocal and the approaches of stakeholders might differ somewhat, the end goal is the same – sustainable and structured fishing practices.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The BFCA serves as the umbrella organization of the National Fishermen Cooperative, the Northern Fishermen Cooperative and the Placencia Fishermen Cooperative. That’s roughly fifteen hundred fisher folks who need to be educated, trained, monitored and regulated. It’s no easy task for the monitoring agencies or for association heads, and that’s why workshops like this one are so essential.

 

Pedro Alvarez

Pedro Alvarez, Chairman, BFCA

“This workshop is actually the concern about the fisheries laws, regulations; the marine reserve, protected areas. This is one of the main things that we have concern about. To enlighten the fisher folks, educate them on what is happening out there with the laws and the regulations and the marine reserves.”

 

Ramon Carcamo, Fisheries Officer

“What we are doing now is provide the support; training them and telling them this is how you do it, this is how you can proceed with fishing in Belize and to empower them to become better fishermen and how to better take care of the environment.”

 

Ramon Carcamo

According to Chairman of the BFCA Pedro Alvarez, some of the challenges arise because of the approach of the law enforcement agencies, but in the end they are all working towards the same goal.

 

Pedro Alvarez

“Sometimes it’s probably the approach of the fisheries department. We have even come down with the coast guard. It is the approach. We have to got everything in order and that’s good because we have to have the proper license in place, good practice and that there are not undersized product. We want to be carrying out a good sustainable fishing industry.”

 

Many of the issues can be cleared up through sessions like these, but as we observed today there are some challenges relating to tourism which fall outside of the auspices of this gathering. Ricardo Casanova has been with the Northern Fishermen Cooperative for thirty years, and feels that there is too much unfair scrutiny of fishermen.

 

Ricardo Casanova

Ricardo Casanova, Northern Fishermen Cooperative

“Everyone wants a piece of the sea, but only fishermen are getting blamed for the depletion of the sea food. For example, if you see a piece of reef and the fisherman jump there and no fish noh deh around there weh ih want—wah big lobster, wah mature lobster, or anything weh he want—he just wah move away. But drop wah ten tourist around there soh, first time dehn di see wah reef, all kinda thing happen. One tour guide to ten tourists can’t control it. One of them want touch. But they always blame we. Dehn always blame a fisherman.”

 

Casanova also feels that fishermen do not have a fair input in matters which directly affect them, like marine reserves, for example.

 

Ricardo Casanova

“I like laws because it helps us preserve. I like preservation, I like reserves. But reserves should be in a kinda way that if you reserve this area for five years, you supposed to open this area for a certain amount of time. Close it back, open the area and close this back and work it like that…monitor the situation and not just close it off and say you can’t fishing here.”

 

Elmer Rodriguez

But with that said, the challenges are many but there is a focus on finding common ground.

 

Elmer Rodriguez, Chairman, National Fishermen Cooperative

“We have different challenges: piracy, we have fishermen don’t want to understand the importance of complying with fisheries laws. So I think it is very important that us as fishers need to understand what is the regulations, fisheries regulations.”

 

Ramon Carcamo

“The fishermen are now more vocal about what is happening in Belize with other resources and they want to be able to talk about their issues, some of the challenges that they have. So by inviting the authorities such as the fisheries department, the Coast Guard; they are able to converse, have a partnership with them. So the fishermen can become more good in taking care of their industry. So the partnership relations is very important and I think the fishers have an opportunity now to protect and serve and sustainably fish in Belize.”

 

The training session was funded by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust through its small grants program. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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1 Response for “Throw a line in the workshop for fishermen”

  1. landi says:

    It is all well that the fishermen learn the rules and abide by them. there is something that is been overlooked though, that the fishermen need to get involved in an alternative livelihood option to prepare for the age when he can no longer be a fisherman. Here is where we need to concentrate some energy. after 50 years of age it is hard to withstand the conditions out at sea: the cold waters. This reduces output and the quota to the boat captain or boat owner might not be met thus he may not be a good candidate for the trip. Ministries need to think about sustainable options and encourage fishermen to pay social security or some insurance for their future.

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