The Belize Fisheries Department developed a Pride Program to recruit fishermen from all over Belize to join the Management Access Programs created for fishermen which provides registered fishermen into different communities in their respective fishing zones. The Pride program was conducted by three individuals Andres Aldana, Nidia Chacon and Denise Garcia. The program was also recognized by International group RARE. Beverly Wade Fisheries Administrator at the fisheries department spoke about how RARE boosted the Pride Program.
“Well, RARE is a strategic partner with the government of Belize. RARE is an international organization who specializes in social marketing campaigns. If you heard them earlier one of the first works they did was with a Parrot in St.Lucia. They actually did work in Belize with the Scarlet Macaw. The idea is to now work with communities to get the necessary support for conservation and sustainable use and so when we were looking at how we are now going to bridge this huge gap when we are introducing something completely new to fishers we actually looked at who we could partner with strategically and so RARE was an organization that we identified and they were enthusiastic about working with us in Belize.”
She went on to tell us about what the managed access program entails as well as what the jobs of the three coordinators of the Pride Program are.
“What manage access is a departure from the open access nature of our fisheries. From the beginning of time we had open access to fisheries in Belize and so the PRIDE campaign was critical and its continuous, whether its not formally through the PRIDE campaign but that occurred but actually continued engagement with the Fisher folks in Belize is critical because you are now changing how people have operated since they have known themselves and now asking them to now approach fishing and livelihoods in a different manner and so it was critical for us to be able to go into the fishing communities, work closely with the fishermen to get the necessary buy in that we needed and to get the necessary commitment that we needed from them because while the manage access is part of a bigger picture for us in ensuring sustainable fisheries in Belize we can only be successful at it if fishermen first of all understand that it’s being done in their best interest and secondly to have their cooperation.”
Olga Garcia is one of the coordinators of the Pride Program and she managed the Southern Node of the project which had the most positive feedback from the fishermen. She spoke about what was the ultimate goal for their campaign.
“The ultimate objective is to create some sort of behavior change among them, new behaviors. We want them to know more about manage access, we want them to talk more about it, we want them to be more participative in the program and the end result if we want to look from the outside in is basically we want to reduce the threats that are affecting the fisheries like Belize; the conch, the lobster and the ultimate goal is attaining a sustainable fisheries. So we were brought into the bigger team because there was a team before us and so the idea is to create that link between fishers and the department so as to get community movement for the program. So like Ms. Wade mentioned, we need the buy in from the fishers, it’s our social responsibility as users to be more engaged in the management of the fisheries so the bigger picture is that we wanted buy in from the fishers for the program and also for them to realize the overall goal of attaining sustainable fisheries.”
The Pride Campaign was recognized by the international group RARE whose motto is “inspire change so people and nature thrive”. The vice president of Rare Fish Forever, Nakul Saran was present and he spoke about the connection between Belize and RARE.
“This is an incredible milestone for Belize, the fishers in Belize and for the three of you. What many people don’t know is that RARE’s first pride campaign in Belize was in 1992. It’s now been 25 years that we have been along in this journey in Belize and we plan to continue to be a partner to the Belizeans, the Belizean government and all of you. Paul described the little pin in the video, it’s a St.Lucian Parrot. That parrot was part of the first pride campaign that was run in the 70’s in RARE and so it holds a very important place in our hearts and this a pin that is really only given to campaign managers who have completed the entire program. No RARE staff members holds one of these pins, it is really just for our campaign managers so you’re joining a family of 300 campaign managers from over 50 countries around the world who have really supported in helping to create this mission of allowing people and nature to thrive.
The pride campaign lasted for two years, which occurred in three sections of Belize, Northern Node, Central Node and Southern Node. All three coordinators graduated from the program today.