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Belize celebrates and honors fisher folks

Belize has joined in the celebration of Caribbean Fisherfolk Day.  A ceremony took place earlier.  The day is being observed under the theme, the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, breaking the cycle of poverty in fishing communities.  One of the speakers at this morning’s ceremony was The Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries mechanism, Milton Haughton.

Milton Haughton – Executive Director, CRFM

The fishers make very important contributions to the social and economic development as well as the culture of this nation. They contribute significantly to food and nutrition security to the generation of employment and income to trade and the earning of foreign exchange which is so important to purchase goods such as medicine, manufactured goods and so on that we cannot produce here in Belize. The fishermen are also very important for poverty alleviation as well as the stability of coastal communities across Belize and across the Caribbean. The fisher men and the fisher women contribute significantly to the culture and the identity of Belize as a nation and the Caribbean region over all.”

Haughton spoke of the importance of the fisheries sector to the economy.

Milton Haughton – Executive Director, CRFM

Fisherman’s day 2015 is an occasion to focus the region’s attention on the crucial role that the Caribbean community Common Fisheries policy can play in eradicating hunger and poverty. CARICOM countries are either surrounded by or bordered by the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean from which they derive many economic and social benefits. Today however in most countries we continue to fight against poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, under employment, inequality in the distribution of wealth, escalating crime among other social ills. But the development and sustainable use of our fisheries resources is a powerful weapon we have as we seek to eradicate poverty to promote peace and prosperity and human and economic development in the Caribbean region and in Belize. Within the region as we think about the future that we’d like to leave for our children in the next fifty or seventy years we really want a future in which the people and countries are economically independent, self-reliant, peaceful, and prosperous and where our countries are fully integrated in the global economy. We want a future where we have the capacity, the technology, the knowledge to fully utilize and to manage and conserve and protect the living marine resources in a sustainable manner. Continue the enjoyment of the benefits from the seas and the oceans are threatened by numerous problems including climate change, pollution and degradation of the marine environment for multiple anthropogenic sources including over fishing, illegal fishing and irresponsible fishing among others.”

 Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade said it is important that fishers be acknowledged for the role they play in our country’s economy.

Beverly Wade – Fisheries Administrator

Fishers and this fishing sector are extremely important. You are the corner stones of the development of Belize. Fishing is truly one of the true Belizean owned industries. It’s one of the primary industries that continues to contribute to our national economy and we have to keep it like that. Yes we’ll have challenges as mentioned this morning by Mr. Haughton, there is some that we cannot control, climate change, natural disasters, but there are areas that we have to continue together we have to look at how we do business as fishers. We have benefitted from the great cooperation that we’ve had with you fisher men and we want to continue to benefit from that. I am very proud as the fisheries administrator and my colleagues from the region could tell you that because I boast about Belize wherever I am and I think you deserve a big hand because even though we have our challenges here I could tell you that we are often looked at as great examples for best practices. We are often looked at leaders in fisheries management and we have to continue that sense of responsibility, that sense of ownership that we have over our fishing because we can’t make it happen without you.”

As part of the celebrations, the outstanding Fishers award was presented to Ana Ramirez of Punta Gorda.

Ana Ramirez – Recipient, Fishers Award

Being a fisher woman is great. Sometimes it’s really hard especially in those days when you used to paddle and sail it’s very hard but we do it. I married and continued with it, I educated them with being a fisher woman so it’s to me then it’s very important and like they said when they call me to any meeting I attend and I advise because I am a person like this I like to preserve and take care of many things like our waters. We know to let the little ones grow then we could catch the big ones that is why sometimes in any meetings they call to say something I always have to say that and I am very proud of the managed access license because that brings us more guarantee to our product.”

Ramirez said she started fishing from the age of seven.