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Dec 6, 2019

2-Million-Dollar Fund is Off the Table for Gill Net Users

Janelle Chanona

And so in the government’s decision to control and eventually phase out the use of gill nets in Belize, they turned down a two million dollar fund that the Coalition had worked to put together to help the eighty plus licensed gill net users to transition from gill net use.  Chanona says that aid package has now gone away and that G.O.B. failed to engage them about the two million dollar fund which is a loss for those eighty-three licensed gill net fishers.  Despite G.O.B.’s position, Chanona says that OCEANA will continue to advocate for the ban.

 

On the Phone: Janelle Chanona, VP, OCEANA Belize

“The offer of financial support was in fact one of a number of tangible demonstrations of support that we and other members of the N.G.O. community have put on the table to both fishers and the government of Belize to support sustainable fishing practices. We have been in discussions and consultations with a number of government officials over the last nine years, as you know where have been multiple changes there. It was only over this summer that it was pointed out to us that beyond all the reasons to removing this gear there would need to be support on the table for licensed users. Using the date obtained from the Belize Fisheries Department through the F.O.I. request, getting information from the fishers themselves on things like the value of nets and the financial income derived from gill netting, figures were calculated and fund raising commenced. So, what is or was on the table was the result of just a few months of fundraising that shows there is that support out there. I do have to say that it is lamentable to me that after those offers were officially put on the table two months ago; that to date the ministers of fisheries did not see it fit to have a conversation with us to negotiate on ways forward. There might have been opportunities to ensure that licensed users benefitted from the funds that were on the table. I could share that the buyback component would have gone through the credit union league. It could have gone directly to the fishers, no middle men.  This is a loss to Belize; a direct loss to the eighty three fishers who would have benefitted directly from this and in some ways a loss of credibility nationally because we just told funders motivated to fund this and support our efforts at sustainability and fisheries management that after twenty-years of talking about gill nets, we are unwilling to do what needs to be done.”


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