This morning the Fisheries Department launched the Manage Access Map detailing nine fishing areas in Belize. For the past three years the department has been consulting with fishermen to regulate fishing turfs. Fisheries Department Administrator Beverly Wade spoke about the importance of manage access.
“Manage access is huge for Belize. As you well know historically and traditionally we’ve had what we call and open access fishery and what that means is that there is no structured approach to how we access the fisheries resources in Belize and so what we have done now we have now rolled out nationally in all our territorial waters a structured system that now looks at secured tenure for fishermen to access the resources so basically fishers are now licensed to certain areas or turfs to carry out their fishing activities. What we’ve done is that we’ve generated turfs within the national waters and fishers were allowed to licenses for two of those areas plus a general area and so this was based on three years of polling fishermen, finding out what their fishing patterns are so we’ve basically organized fishers in the way that they’ve been fishing for some time now so as regulators we could have a better understanding of what is being caught, where it’s being caught and by whom it’s being caught so yes they are now licensed for certain areas and they are expected to operate within those areas they are licensed for.”
Consultation with all fishermen was very important to get them engaged in complying with the regulated fishing areas. CEO Dr. Colin Young and fishermen from Belize City shared their thoughts on the venture.
DR COLIN YOUNG
“I’m absolutely delighted to be among members of the fishing community and other key stakeholders to celebrate the official launch of the Manage Access Program that is being celebrated under the motto “Sustainable fishing for our future.” Clearly the motto envisages that we will have a viable and national fishing industry well into the future. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, the Environment and Sustainable Development is a strong advocate for the sustainable management for all of our country’s natural resources. To this end our actions are guided by the best available data and information so as to ensure effective management. In this particular case the fisheries department has relied upon sound sciences as well as traditionally local knowledge to provide the guiding principles to inform the harvesting of our marine resources.”
“I will always support manage access, it empowers the fishers and also you can assure that your areas will benefit.”
“Manage access gives us a sense of responsibility to our local areas, it helps us look after it and also our area currently seems to be the most productive in the country. We have people travel all the way from Sarteneja and surrounding areas to fish our areas. When they did the case study to find out how many people would be interested in area 3 versus the other area I think our numbers were significantly higher than any other area. Our area happens to be a very productive area.”
The fishermen expressed that to improve communication between the Fisheries Department and fishermen; they have asked the department to include all fishermen in the training sessions that they hold.