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Jun 24, 2022

Belize’s Lobster Stocks Running Low, According to Assessment

Belize’s lobster stocks are in short supply, according to an assessment that has been completed. The Belize Fisheries Department, along with the Environmental Defense Fund and The Fisheries Research Center of Cuba (El Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras of Cuba) led the week-long assessment, with technical input from the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, the Belize Audubon Society, the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Nature Conservancy. And at the end of that process, the report is that if controls are not put in place to properly manage our lobster stocks, we can run into problems in the foreseeable future. It comes on the heels of fisherfolks expressing concerns last month of new fishing regulations for lobster. One of the requirements is that lobster tails need to weigh four point five ounces, as opposed to four ounces previously. News Five’s Marion Ali spoke with the technical team at the close of the assessment and filed the following report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Lobster – it is Belize’s primary fisheries commodity that generates over thirty million dollars annually and for seafood lovers the world over, a delectable shellfish that is prepared in various ways. But a combination of factors has depleted the healthy stocks to a dwindling amount that could thrust the country’s revenues from this important marine product into jeopardy.


Mauro Gongora

Mauro Gongora, Fisheries Officer, Belize Fisheries Department

“Belize is experiencing a fishing level that is not sustainable at this time and we think it is as a result of other economic sectors not performing particularly well, that is why you have a number of fishers joining the industry. It is important for the government to put in place management measures that will prevent – avoid going into over-fishing of a very important fishery resource.”


Acting Fisheries Administrator, Rigoberto Quintana, of the Belize Fisheries Department, told News Five that one of the factors has been high demand on the international market.


Rigoberto Quintana

Rigoberto Quintana, Acting Fisheries Administrator, Belize Fisheries Department

“Mostly the production is linked to the export market, and you saw the prices last year for the lobster was up to thirty-six dollars a pound, compared to conch which is like fourteen dollars a pound. There’s a high demand and the high price (inaudible) will increase those fishing prices on lobster commodities.”


Dr. Kendra Karr, a senior scientist with the Fishery and Oceans Program, told us that they have analyzed inputs from technicians in various parts of the country to come up with a plan to salvage the industry.


Dr. Kendra Karr

Dr. Kendra Karr, Senior Scientist, Fishery & Oceans Program

“Someone from Turneffe Atoll has a different interpretation or might have a different idea of what we’re seeing compared to someone from Punta Gorda. So we took all the information of the experts that were in the room to really get an idea what’s been happening to fishing over time in order to make some recommendations.”


While the recommendations have not been made public, it is thought that patrolling the seas is one of the most effective methods to deter illegal or over-fishing. But, with the scaling up of fuel prices, Fisheries Officer Mauro Gongora said that costly boat patrols are one of the main challenges.


Mauro Gongora

“There’s always not enough resources to do that, and so that is the reason why we depend on the support and the cooperation of our co-management partners to help us to do that. Fuel is an issue, not just for Belize Fisheries Department but also for others who assist us, but it’s a collaborative effort that we need to do strengthen so that we can achieve the objectives.”


Dr Kendra Karr

“There’s lot of ways to regulate fishing efforts but the country of Belize and the Minister need to think of ways that actually fit Belize, the Belize context.”


What the team will do is prepare the recommendations during this time, preceding the opening of the lobster season later this year.


Rigoberto Quintana

“We hope that in October we should have an industry meeting to discuss all these recommendations, so it’s not something that overnight we’ll be making decisions.”


Marion Ali For News Five



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