A pair of pictures circulating on Facebook, showing two men posing over the corpse of sharks, has received the attention of environmental groups such as Mar Alliance and Oceana Belize. Mar Alliance says it is dismayed, adding quote, “fishers recently fished, landed and mocked several globally endangered great hammerheads, a large, locally rare and putatively pregnant tiger shark and a nurse shark on a caye in southern Belize. Belize could truly become the shark and coral reef diving destination of the Caribbean if Belize would conserve its sharks.” End of quote. Well, known activist and environmentalist Wil Maheia weighed in on the matter.
“As part of the Belize Territorial Volunteers, we are deeply disturbed at the fact that those Guatemalans camping out at Spider Caye outside of Placencia can still enter Belize and get their fishing licenses. I know several of them that live inside of Guatemala and they have fishing licenses. The fact is that they have broken the law, in the pictures you can see nurse sharks and hammerhead sharks. Nurse sharks are protected who will arrest them for that, how did they get their licenses, how did the past four or five bases before they could get to where they are? The Forward Operating Base at Sarstoon, Hunting Caye, Fisheries, BDF and Coast Guard base the TIDE ranger station, there are four outposts that these guys managed to pass and operate freely in our country. This is a shame.”
Environmentalists on social media have been attacking the fishermen but Oceana says quote, “This is not about the fishermen. Legally they are not doing anything wrong.” End of quote. Shark fishing is legal in Belize and there are at least 65 fishers with licenses to do so. However, Oceana says the issue is the lack of transparency. The environmental group says that information including the names and photos of everyone licensed should be on a public platform so that Belizeans can see who is accessing their resources, how they are doing so and where products are ending up.