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Nov 13, 2019

Fishermen Meet in Dangriga to Support Gillnet Usage

There are two sides to the use of gillnets. In some quarters the use of the fishing gear is said to be harmful and dangerous but among others, the traditional form needs to be retained. In Dangriga today, members of the Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association who support the use of gillnets, held a rally. Their message was clear and loud maintaining that there are laws to support the sustainable use of gillnets. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A handful of fishermen, a majority of whom are from Stann Creek District, gathered at the Alejo Beni Park in Dangriga this morning where a rally was held in support of the continued use of gillnets.  The fishing gear is at the centre of a heated debate among commercial and artisanal fishers who are for and against its usage in Belizean waters.  The conservation community is actively lobbying government for a proposed ban on gillnets.  Today, however, proponents of the traditional fishing method came together for a common objective.

 

Norman Castillo

Norman Castillo, Gillnet Fisherman

“Let’s control our waters, let’s control and tell the government, tell the NGOs that we will not back down from anything that they put in our face.  I have seen people go by because of N.G.O.s giving them financial treats and later on weh happen to dehn?  Dehn stop fishing.  They’ve gone nowhere.  This will not happen to gillnet fishers.  We the gillnet fishers will stand strong, we support our brothers all over this country.  We will not ban gillnet.  Are in agreement with that guys?”

 

Crowd

“Yeah.”

 

Among the many advocates for gillnetting is Sydney Fuller, an executive member of the Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association.  He has been making his rounds across the country shoring up support among fellow fisher folks for the use of gillnets.

 

Sydney Fuller

Sydney Fuller, Gillnet Proponent

“No to the ban on gillnet and we will maintain that.  No to the ban on gillnet.  We don’t mind what it costs, we’ve got to continue to use our gillnets.  We have been using it sustainably and we will continue to use it sustainably because there are laws and legislation in place that govern the use of gillnets.  We will continue to use that.  So no to the ban on gillnets and that message will not change.”

 

According to Norman Castillo, a fisherman from Hopkins Village, a small group met with government representatives on Tuesday and were reportedly assured that those whom they met with are in support of their position against a ban on gillnets.

 

Norman Castillo

“We had a nice discussion yesterday with the ministers and I believe that by the message that was given to us that they are supportive of the fishers which is excellent and I am proud of that.  Armando gave a speech yesterday but checked lots of things which were directly, directly straight against a lot of things in the tourism sector that impacted our corals, impacted our livelihoods, it’s our livelihoods.  Now they want to take away something like gillnets, then dehn gwein to hook-stick, dehn gwein spear gun and dehn gwein further.  Next thing dehn wahn tell unu, unu fisherman get unu ship and go home.  We noh interested eena unu.  Weh dehn di give we back?  What have we received back from all these things?  We have banned bony fish and we have banned permit.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


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