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Jun 29, 2023

W.C.S. Recognizes Four Fisher Folks of the Year

This morning in Belize City, the Wildlife Conservation Society recognized several fisher folk with the annual Fisher of Year Award.  Each year, the environmental NGO formally acknowledges the work of fishermen and women who dedicate their lives to marine conservation.  Among the awardees who were honored are Osvaldo Santoya from the fishing community of Chunox (Shu-nush) and Maria Allen of Caye Caulker.

 

Osvaldo Santoya

Osvaldo Santoya, Fisher of the Year

“I feel happy and I feel kind of nervous because it is the first time to be elected.  I have a lot of words to say but I can’t mention everything, but yes, it is very joyful today for me.  My community is known as a community of fisher folks.  On my behalf, I am working as chairman of the association, Chunox Fishermen’s Association.  We are working in the village to know more about the rules, the bylaws and fishing.”

 

Maria Allen

Maria Allen, Fisher of the Year

“For a woman, it’s very challenging.  This is a man’s world, but being a woman and having my dad being a founder of the cooperative, he kinda made it possible for me.  I grew up on Caye Caulker all my life and one of the things I really loved was the sea and going out fishing.  So, I don’t know how to express, how to say, but it’s very challenging being in a man’s world.” 

 

Ralna Lamb-Lewis

Ralna Lamb-Lewis, Assistant Country Director, W.C.S.

“We’ve been having this award for the past, I believe, seven or eight years and it’s just for us to highlight the work that persons are doing within Belize’s small-scale fisheries sector.  Well especially for this year, I have to say it was very difficult because we have a lot of persons nominated who are playing various roles within the sector.  We have persons who are leaders of their association, members of cooperatives, you know, working within the cooperative itself, as well as organizing fishers… also venturing, for example, into deep sea fishing which isn’t something that, you know, most fishers would get involved in and helping to draft regulations such as that for the stone crab fishery.  So, you know, these persons are well represented within their fishing community.  They’re active, they’re working, you know.  So the selection was very difficult, but we’re trying to look for people who would represent the sector well.”

 


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