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Feb 9, 2021

A Monitoring System for Fishers at Sea

One year ago, in February 2020, the Fisheries Resources Bill was passed in the House of Representatives. The legislation allowed for a framework to be put in place for vessel monitoring systems. Its objective was to monitor that vessels were in-keeping with the fisheries regulations within and outside the marine reserve. It would also increase safety at sea as onboard each vessel; a panic button would be used in emergencies – be that piracy, mechanical failures, or accident at sea. Satellite technology would then be used to pin the vessel’s location and alert the port of Belize and other authorities. But, there hasn’t been sufficient interest in the program. Executive Director of the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, Valdemar Andrade, says that of approximately three thousand fishers, less than a hundred have bought into the plan that in his mind can save lives.


Valdemar Andrade

Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA

“There is a voluntary system with the Wildlife Conservation Society that you can reach them to put on one of these systems on your vessel. It also helps to…it’s like an insurance system because it helps to track your vessel. So at the end of the day, if somebody steals your vessel, we are able to tell where was the last location that we saw it as well. So in that way, the authorities can help. It also allows us to expend less man hours and less fuel to be able to get to any emergency or incident.”


Duane Moody

“You need all stakeholders, all fishermen to buy-in on it. What are the concerns that they’ve expressed?”


Valdemar Andrade

“Sure. You know at the end of the day, like any controlled system, people are skeptical because of course at the end of the day, the real objective of the system is to catch people who are not obeying the rules and regulations—whether it is fisheries or otherwise. And so that’s already an alert for us if Duane Moody is a fisher and doesn’t want to put on a vessel monitoring system, there must be a reason why he wouldn’t want to do that because the value added is tremendous compare to what you would lose by putting it onboard. The other thing is that it has a real cost. And so the initial cost, while it is being borne through a project that is funded by Oceans Five, through the WCS, and we are also looking at raising funds to do this – we pay the initial cost – but eventually, the fishers would have to pick up the cost.”


Andrade says that the system is just under five hundred U.S. dollars per vessel. It has tamper alerts, it is solar charged and satellite based; there is also a thirty U.S. dollar per month charge per vessel.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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