The Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries (CSF) is launching a “Ban Gillnets” campaign in Belize. In a release sent on Friday, they stated that commercial fishermen are leading the movement to ban gillnets, as they know it can lead to major declines in their fish stock, as well as negatively affect the future of the fishing industry. Today, the Executive Director of the Turneffe Atoll Trust, and a member of the Coalition, told us more about their proposal for the campaign.
Alex Anderson- Executive Director, Turneffe Atoll Trust: “We have officially launched a Go Fund Me page since two weeks ago primarily focused on trying to assist with the fundraising efforts for getting a gillnet ban in Belize. This goes back to our proposal which we have spent quite a bit of time working on. We presented an official proposal to the Government of Belize where we are proposed to raise between 1 million to 2 million Belize to assist with the transition for licensed gillnet fishers into an alternative that is sustainable. The gear of choice for illegal fishers is gillnets. When I say illegal I will include primarily the Guatemalans and Honduranians coming in, that is the gear of choice because it is very efficient. They can come at night, set a net and by four-five in the morning they can pull up their nets with a whole bunch of fish that is rotten, getting spoilt and whatever is left in terms of the shark and so forth they just take it across the border. It is much easier to enforce a gear that is already banned for example if we want to get the most out of our enforcement dollars right now. If it is banned and I come upon a boat or on a net that is set I don’t need to take it out of the water, measure the mesh size, the length, the width and so that is very copious work. Right now there is not much money available for enforcement and so we do recognize that from an enforcement perspective getting the most bang for your buck is really to have a full ban that way when an enforcement agency comes up on the net then they can just withdraw it from the water and take it and dispose of it. If there are fisheries there then those persons need to be dealt with.”
There are only about three percent of licensed fishermen who use gillnets in Belize.//////////