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Feb 6, 2020

OCEANA – “Ban on Gillnets must be decisive”

Last December, the government made a surprise decision that drew criticism from many quarters when it declared that in respect of gillnets, there would be a control and eventual phase out.  OCEANA Belize says that while they applaud G.O.B. for recognizing gillnet as a destructive gear, there is a need for the ban on gillnet to be decisive. In a release issued today, OCEANA says, “Today Belmopan is proposing a ban with no defined term, which will compromise the restoration of Belizean fisheries and ecosystems.” That decision, according to OCEANA, results in the government passing on the one million dollars that they’ve put forward to help Belizean fishers transition away from gillnets. Today, we spoke with OCEANA’s Janelle Chanona who shares more about why the ban on gillnets must be decisive.


On the Phone: Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“It is historic that they came out in December and said that gillnets are destructive. As I have interpreted what they said in December, that the only reason that they didn’t implement a ban is because they didn’t want to marginalize fishers. And we are totally appreciative of that fact and that is one of the many reasons why we did what we did which was to attract funding to a transition process to make sure that didn’t happen to any of the licensed fishers. I can tell you that the initial vetting that we participated in January has taken the list down to seventy-one people and further vetting is expected to bring the list substantially lower. But, looking at how the programme being run by Oceana and the Coalition would set out, none of the licensed fishers that are eligible to have a commercial fisherfolk license would ever be marginalized. So, then, we are trying to figure out what is the reticence of not putting in a ban, but not just a ban in name but a ban that actually makes sense, because if you put in a ban and then some future administration says there is no rationale for doing this then by not having a set time frame to give the ban a chance to work and to show the maximum benefits to fishers first, but certainly to the country as a whole, it needs to include that so that it can be meaningful. All we are trying to underscore is that we are not being arbitrary in saying that there needs to be a set time frame for this to be in place. It is that science, regional experience and everything we have at our disposal are showing that for this to be meaningful, there has to be an understanding that this ban will be in place for a set period of time so that we can establish a base-line now and get the data to show that this is why it’s helpful and this is why we are pushing for.”

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