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Dec 12, 2019

BFF Seeks Gillnet Ban Despite GOB’s Position

The Belize Federation of Fishers is the latest organization to come out against government’s decision not to discontinue the use of gillnets, despite a concerted effort by several stakeholder groups that were lobbying for a ban of the destructive fishing gear.  On Sunday, the B.F.F. held an emergency meeting with its membership.  Concerns were expressed by a number of fishermen in attendance that the proposed changes put forward by the Ministry of Fisheries do not go far enough and that the enforcement measures taken will not be effective.  This afternoon, News Five spoke with Nigel Martinez, the federation’s executive director.


Nigel Martinez, Executive Director, Belize Federation of Fishers

Nigel Martinez

“The federation received the correspondence stating that the government wants to continue with the use of gillnets in our waters.  Our position from the onset has been that we want to see a phase-out banning of gillnets and for that we have partnered with several organizations that have formed a coalition.  So our approach to this was very strategic from the onset because we wanted to ensure that those licensed gillnet fishers would be benefiting in some way because we understand that majority of them do not full-time survive off the use of gillnets, but from a standpoint their livelihood of using the gear, they depend on it.  So our approach when we received that correspondence, we had an emergency meeting because we felt that we needed to outline our position.  The press release from the government is very open-ended.  There’s a lot of uncertainty and we have been receiving significant complaints from our members as to which direction this is going to go.  From our perspective we can understand and we can see that at the end of the day the government really wants to see the gear banned.  But how we get there, that is the situation, that’s the mechanism that we have to work out and that is where the differences of opinion right now are at.  However, we have requested, we’re asking for certain measures to be in place so that those funds can be released.  We are saying that there’s two million dollars right now, we have fisher folks who want to benefit from that two million and we are asking the government to work with us in order for us to iron out the mechanism as to how we can reach to a phase-out ban and access that two million dollars.”

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