Belize Internationally Recognized as the First to Implement Managed Access Areas for Fishers

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Updated: June 17, 2016

Recently we told you of the Managed Access initiative taken by the Fisheries Department where Belize’s waters are being divided into nine fishing areas with commercial fishermen having access of up to two areas and the opportunity to use larger deep water areas, known as area nine.  Under this program, the Fisheries Department will manage better for improved sustainability and the fishers will have ownership of their own fishing areas.  It is an initiative that has put Belize on the international scene as being the first country in the world to adopt a national, multispecies-secure fishing rights program for small scale fishers.  In todays’ edition of the UnderCurrent online news, which focuses on global marine life, it noted, quote, “After a long struggle to address illegal fishing and the threat of overfishing, a partnership of fishing communities and non-governmental organizations, under the leadership of Belize’s Fisheries Department, created a new system that empowers fishermen and women to conserve and protect their fishery while still using its resources to provide for their families.”  End of quote.  According to the Senior Vice President for Oceans at the Environmental Defense Fund, Amanda Leland, “Belize is showing the world the way forward.  The adoption of fishing rights nationwide will serve as proof to other countries with small-scale fisheries that reforms can create a benefit for not only the environment, but for the people who depend on fish for food and income.”  Meanwhile, Larry Epstein who is EDF’s Country Director for Belize stated that, “At the two pilot sites, fishermen now enjoy better catches, scientific surveys show the first signs of recovery of fish, and fishermen are complying with regulations like never before. Fishing violations are down 60% and more than 90% of fishermen are submitting their catch data, leading to more accountability and better science.”  The Managed Access areas were officially launched on June 13, 2016.