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Jan 7, 2019

Ombudsman to Fisheries Administrator: Provide Gillnet Info to OCEANA

The Ombudsman, Lionel Arzu has written to Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade exercising its power of review telling the Fisheries Department to provide OCEANA in Belize with information on gillnets, which the N.G.O. requested in November of 2018. Under the Freedom of Information Act, OCEANA requested copies of documents in relation to registered gillnets, the fishers who have the license as well as information on the exportation of shark and salt fish between the period 2013 and September 2018. In a response to their request back in December, Wade notified OCEANA that their correspondence was forwarded to C.E.O., Doctor Percival Cho for his directives. The Ombudsman says the response is inadequate and that the department must provide the information by February fourth.


Alyssa Carnegie

Alyssa Carnegie, Communications Director, OCEANA (Belize)

“OCEANA had made a request or written the Fisheries Department under the Freedom of Information Act. OCEANA had been asking for information on these points for quite some time, for years actually, and we have always been told that it is publicly accessible information, the information is there, but we have requested it and we haven’t received it. And so we felt like we had to request the information under the Freedom of Information Act to be able to access those information on those specific eight subjects, which includes number of gillnetters, licenses, information on sharks and other things like that. As part of the process under the Freedom of Information Act, it requires that all letters and correspondence be copied to the Ombudsman so that’s how I believe he was involved in the process. The original request that OCEANA had sent under the FOIA had the Ombudsman copied into it; so that’s how he was involved. We have since been advised by our attorneys that the Ombudsman has responded to the Fisheries Department and the response provided by the Fisheries Administrator saying that it is inadequate and that they need to provide an adequate response within a given timeframe.”

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