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Jun 29, 2017

Sarteneja’s Leobihildo Tamai is Fisher of the Year

Recognition was given today to fisher folks for their contribution to the growth of the fishing industry, which directly benefits at least four percent of the population. Three fishermen were singled out for their leadership roles within their communities. Leobihildo Tamai has spent his life at sea; he hails from Sarteneja and is Fisher of the Year.  The two other outstanding fishermen are Eliodoro Martinez Junior from Chunox Village and Dale Fairweather from Belize City. News Five’s Duane Moody was present for the award ceremony and has this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

After a month-long of activities, the Wildlife Conservation Society in collaboration with its stakeholders held its third annual Fisher of the Year Award ceremony, which culminated activities that recognized the growing industry in Belize. Three fishers from Belize City as well as Chunox and Sarteneja in Corozal were honored at a ceremony today; Leobihildo Tamai from Sarteneja came out on top.


Ralna Lewis

Ralna Lewis, Assistant Country Director, WCS

“We had three fishers recognized today. Two of them being recognized as outstanding fishers: Eliodoro Martinez Junior from Chunox Village as well as Mister Dale Fairweather from Belize City and our fisher of the year was Mister Leobihildo Tamai from Sarteneja. The important things for us to recognize is that all of these men have one thing in common; they have all chosen to be leaders within their fishing community. So you would see that most of them sit on the boards for a lot of N.G.O.s as well as represent their fishers as leaders of associations and the federation of fishers as well and a lot of them also sit on the cooperatives for the fishing communities.”


The men actively voice the concern of their respective fisherfolks to ensure that when management decisions are made, fishers are taken into account, while ensuring the sustainability of the fishing sector. While two of the awardees were out at sea, Eliodoro Martinez Junior was on hand to receive his award. A fisherman for over fourteen years, he says that his love of the sea is the driving force behind his work with the fishing community.


Eliodoro Martinez Jr.

Eliodoro Martinez Jr., Honoree

“As you heard before I was a teacher and a marine park warden, but I really love the sea and I wanted to do fishing. And all these work that I have done is for the benefit of my fisher folks.  What we are doing is to make fishing sustainable for the future, for our children and our grandchildren and for the future generations.”


Held under the theme, “Fisheries: Contributing to Food Security in a Changing Climate,” the event speaks to the progress of the local sector. The industry contributes roughly three percent to the GDP and is the fourth export foreign exchange income earning. It also provides direct benefits to four point two percent of our national population.


Beverly Wade

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator

“Belize is actually one of the few countries in the world that have actually realized some of the international targets that are set out by some of these global conventions and one of the important ones that concerns us and most states with marine territory is that states are actually obligated to now declare twenty percent of their territorial areas as protected/managed areas. And we have surpassed that; we’ve actually surpassed that since 2015 with the expansion of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  Belize is the only country in the world that has actually rolled out a ten-year system for access for fishers across its entire territorial waters. There are countries that have implemented the rights based approached, but to particular fisheries, to localized areas. But we have been successful in rolling it out across our entire fisheries and across our entire territorial waters.”


According to Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade, Belize has been doing some trailblazing work and it is recognized regionally and internationally. While conch and lobster are the main exported fisheries products, the industry is tapping into other markets. Currently, live lobsters are exported to Hong Kong.


Beverly Wade

“We were a significant exporter of fin fish to the Caribbean in the sixties, seventies, eighties and that had dwindled over the years. And we have now been very much active in the exportation of fin fish back now into the Caribbean and we are looking at expanding those markets, also to the U.S., which is a good market for fresh fin fish and some of the other countries. But one of the most significant things that has happened to us with the markets is that we have been working along with our producers and with the fishermen to look at how we can now influence the value chain and the supply chain to create some efficiencies and to look at how we can add value to the product that we are already exporting.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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