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Feb 15, 2005

NGOs criticize relaxation of fishing law

Story PictureTonight environmental organisations are up in arms over a government move in the fishing industry. According to the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is now being asked to reconsider a recently signed statutory instrument which would allow non-Belizeans the right to fish in Belizean waters. Advocacy Director of APAMO, Tanya Williams Thompson, says the decision has serious implications for Belize’s natural resources.

Tanya Williams Thompson, Advocacy Director, APAMO
?The previous S.I. allowed for only Belizean nationals to obtain a fisherman license. As it stands, this statutory instrument allows for both Belizean nationals and those who have permanent residents to apply for a fisherman?s license.?

Janelle Chanona
?Enforcement being what it is though, what?s the difference? Because obviously anybody and everybody could have been fishing in Belizean waters anyways??

Tanya Williams Thompson
?There are two concerns really. Presently we have a situation where the fisheries stock is on the decline. There are over two thousand nationals who fish in Belizean waters and they are already causing pressure on fisheries stock. Now to add on additional fishers would increase the fisheries and increase the problem. The protected areas managers have recognised that this is a problem that needs to be addressed through the development of Alternative Livelihood Programs and to bring in additional fishers that we can?t really target creates a difficulty–that you have increased pressures and increased decline in the fisheries stock.?

According to Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Michael Tewes, there is nothing complex or sinister about the rewording of the act. Tewes says his ministry accepts that there are too many fishermen and too few fish, however, they claim it is only a small number of permanent residents who already have licenses and wish to renew them that the S.I. is aimed at. Tewes says this issue will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday afternoon at two at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute in Belize City.

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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