The Belize Federation of Fishers is one of several organizations including the Turneffe Atoll Trust, the Belize Game Fish Association, the National Sports Fishing Association, and the Mar Alliance that have united as The Belize Coalition for Sustainable Fishery to lobby the Government to ban gill nets. We met with The Belize Federation of Fishers (BFF), an organization whose members are spread across the country. Nigel Martinez, BFF’s Director told us the federation members are read to phase out gillnets. We met him in Placencia while he was on a visit to the surrounding villages including Monkey River, Independence and Seine Bight and there was a large consensus from members that the majority were in favor of banning gillnets.
Nigel Martinez Director, Belize Federation of Fishers: “As you are aware the BFF has a position for the phase out ban on Gillnet. We have concluded that this gear is destructive, it is discriminate, it catches every living creature out there in that sea and it is costing our resources significantly so this exercise was basically to join these four communities: Monkey River, Placencia, Independence and Seine Bright as all have been advocating along with the federation for a phase out banning of the Gillnet. Our members have explicitly stated that the communities have felt significantly the products that they were receiving once is no longer and they are a bit frustrated with the Fisheries Department on their enforcement efforts in addressing this Gillnet situation so we have concluded that the only way to go is for a phase out ban of the Gillnet. We have eleven Fishers Association and one cooperative which is the Placencia Producers Cooperative who fully support the phase out ban and they have no members who are Gillnet Fisheries. The communities that we visited today was the Monkey River Fishermen Association and Seine Bight Fishermen Association. Between the two communities you are looking at approximately close to about 60 odd members I would say.”
Next week we will hear from fishers from Placencia, Seine Bight and Monkey River about how they feel about gillnet use. In December, senators Mark Lizarraga and Osmany Salas wrote a letter to the Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade, requesting a moratorium on permits to use gillnets. Gillnets continue to be used across the country with limits on mesh size.