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Dec 9, 2019

Extra Long Gillnet Hauled Up in the South

The issue of the continued usage of gillnets in Belizean waters remains a heated debate among fisheries stakeholders, following government’s recent decision not to outlaw the destructive fishing gear. On Friday, only two days after G.O.B. sent out a press release stating that it will not prohibit the use of gillnets, a large commercial fishing net measuring approximately fifteen hundred feet was hauled out of the sea south of Punta Gorda.  A team of researchers had been in the area doing work on crocodiles when they encountered the gillnet.  Today, Wil Maheia, founder of the Belize Territorial Volunteers, sounded off on government’s decision not to ban the equipment.

 

Wil Maheia, Belize Territorial Volunteers

“On Friday evening, just about twenty-four hours after the law went into effect about making gillnets in the southern part of the country, south of PG, a group of crocodile researchers were doing some research along the coast south of Punta Gorda and they ran into this gillnet.  And if the sea was rough it would have been very dangerous because it could have sunk their boat.  They started to pull the net up and two hours later they were still pulling this same net up which was full of bone fish and other endangered species.  So again, if we are going to make a law why are we not going to enforce the law?  In fact, right now there is a reward for anyone who can bring a picture of the fisheries enforcement boat south of Punta Gorda because it’s never seen in that area.”

 

Reporter

“So who had this gillnet there?”

 

Wil Maheia

Wil Maheia

“Well, they set the gillnet and then they go into the bushes and hide.  You can’t say who had it there but we know it was there, as the evidence speaks for itself.  This gillnet was so long, I mean you can see it.  It was like four or five of the PG town blocks.  We put it there so that the people of PG could see and they were alarmed at the size of this gillnet and the length of it. You have eighty-three licensed gillnet fishermen.  The Coalition and Oceana have raised two million dollars which could give each one of those eighty-three fishermen twelve hundred dollars per month for the next two years while they transition to something else, right.  That was turned down which is a damn shame that that was turned down because you’re paying them to transition to a more sustainable trade.  We pride ourselves, we have our politicians in Spain right now dealing with climate change and talking about all the great things that Belize is doing.  But what are we really doing on the ground.  I mean we’re turning down two million dollars.  Each fisherman could get twelve hundred dollars a month for two years while they transition and I cannot understand how the Minister of Fisheries which is, I think, the honorable Godwin Hulse and Omar Figueroa turn that down.”


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