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Jun 27, 2022

Using Technology to Ensure We Fish Right, Eat Right

The Fish Right, Eat Right Initiative started a few years ago and focused not only on sustainable fishing, but also assisting stakeholders, including restaurateurs and consumers, to know exactly how their fish product was harvested and that they are eating exactly what they’re paying for. So today, a forum was held at the Radisson showcasing how the use of technology to minimize data gaps is adding another layer to ensuring the overall commitment to sustainable seafood. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

As Belizeans we love our fry fish, fish panades and fish stew. But when we purchase these delicacies, do we know if the catch was sustainably harvested? Are restaurants selling you actual snapper fillet and not another fish?  The Fish Right Eat Right initiative was borne out of a shared agenda to promote responsible fishing among restaurateurs, consumers and tourists.


Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“It’s speaks volumes of the inherent stewardship that everyone accessing benefiting from, using these resources have. And it was really the impetus of this project led by chefs like Chef Jenny and Chef Sean and all the N.G.O.-allies and of course the fishers themselves saying this data isn’t just something to have around. It is something that we can use to inform our decision-making and ensure that these resources are stabilized and increased because abundance means sustainability – not just for the resources themselves, but for our livelihood. So that’s the really cool thing about this initiative. It is organic; it is home grown and speaks to that natural inclination from all these sectors to say we want to do our part.”


OCEANA Belize has been piloting a project called market based incentives for responsible fishing. And, through funding from IDB, an app was developed. Outreach & Project Director Jacinta Gomez explains how, with a quick scan of a QR code, you can get access to full details, including video, of the fisher and how your seafood was sustainably caught.


Jacinta Gomez

Jacinta Gomez, Outreach & Project Director, OCEANA Belize

“It’s a virtual market place app with an e-monitoring and e-reporting component. And these three components come together beautifully to give end consumers in restaurants or at fisher markets the opportunity to really see, visualize, see video footage of how your fish is being caught and when the fish is landed on the vessel. So it is a full circle in terms of traceability of fin fish. We know that fish fraud is real unfortunately so a huge part of this has been capacity building and awareness among locals. You’ve seen our adds featuring Chef Sean Kuylen how to avoid fish fraud and ensure that your fish fillet has the skin patch as mandated by the regulations. And so what this technology is doing is ensuring that you can actually see the fish being caught and you can know what gear is being used, the e-reporting app shows you who caught the fish; in what area was it caught.”


You can also look at a video of the fishermen that caught your fish and him talking about his family. While the pilot project focused on some seventy fishing vessels and fishers from San Pedro and Caye Caulker, using the technology opens new markets and restaurants are willing to pay top value for the catch. Julio Maz of Wildlife Conservation Society says that there is buy-in from fisherfolk.


Julio Maz

Julio Maz, Technical Coordinator for Sustainable Fisheries, WCS

“We have been using SMART to be able to document their patrols at a national level so most of our co-managers – the N.G.O.s and the fisheries department use SMART to document every single fisherman they encounter, the fishing vessel, what they catch, where they are catching and all this information goes into a platform that allows them to easily analyze and report on their activities. This helps them to be able to better manage their limited resources, at the same time be more responsive to the illegal fishing activities happening within their areas.”


There are about six hundred fishing vessels in Belize and the next step is to work with various co-managers such as TASA, TIDE and Belize Audubon Society to scale up the e-reporting portion of the app in the hopes of going nationally. That will require partnership between private and public sector, including fisherfolks and N.G.O.s.


Duane Moody for News Five.


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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