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May 18, 2022

Fishermen Protest New Regulations in Northern Belize

Tony Herrera

Last week, the Fisheries Department announced new requirements for fisher folk who are harvesting conch and lobster.  The size of their catch increases by half inch for both products.  This too has been met with protest from the fishing communities of Caye Caulker and Sarteneja, among others.  U.D.P. Corozal Southeast Caretaker Tony Herrera shared the plight of fishermen who are already buckling under the weight of exorbitant fuel prices and the already steep cost of living.


Tony Herrera, U.D.P. Caretaker

“The cries of our fishermen is mostly due to the consultation process.  They were never consulted, although we hear now the minister saying that there were consultations done countrywide.  However, yesterday, as close as yesterday, there was a mass protest in Sarteneja Village by hundreds of fishermen.  If there was consultation that would have never happened.  But today, here we are fighting for these fishermen.  Why?  Because we have three thousand, seventy-two fishermen, licensed fishermen.  We have a total of eight hundred and forty-two sailing vessels that go fishing, that does not include skiffs.  Each vessel carries ten to fifteen persons per vessel, meaning ten to fifteen families.  Now here is the deal guys, the ministry of fisheries is saying that they want or they have increased the size of lobster from four to four point five, the conchs from three to three point five.  What this is simply doing to the fishermen is cutting deep into their pockets we are talking about a forty percent yield per year and I am with my colleagues when it comes to commodities, fuel and everything skyrocketing.  If they are already being cut forty percent off their yields in earnings, fuel is up about a hundred percent now, the groceries they have to take.  So all of this taken into consideration, they will kill the industry, that is one.  When it comes to consultations we have two letters, one from the National Cooperatives that was sent to the fisheries officer Rigoberto Quintana on June eighteenth, telling him that if this goes into effect, this will reduce their production by twelve percent.  So, again, who was consulted and where?  Then we have another letter by the Northern Fishermen Cooperative dated May sixteenth, also lending their support to the fishermen of these communities.  So again guys, where was the consultation when it comes to this bill?”

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