June 29 is recognized as Caribbean Fisherfolk Day. The day is observed as a part of the bigger International Fisherman’s Day. It is being celebrated under the theme, The Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy, breaking the cycle of poverty in fishing communities. The Belize Fisheries Department has teamed up with a number of organizations to organize a series of events to highlight our Belizean fishers and their contribution to our economy. Ralna Lewis is the National Replenishment Zones expansion Project Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Ralna Lewis, Project Coordinator
“Every year on June 29th in the wider Caribbean region Caribbean Fisher Folk day is celebrated. This year in Belize the fisheries department along with a group of organizations including the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism and Wildlife conservation society with the Nature Conservancy will be conducting a series of events which focuses on celebrating the hard working women and men within Belize’s fisheries sector. On June 28th there will be church service at the Central Assembly of God whereby we will be with the parish members they will be talking about the role of the fisheries sector and its importance to Belize’ economy, society and cultural development. On June 29th we will be having a blessing of the boat right here at the Commercial Center where Father Matthew Rule will be blessing the boats as we seek God’s provision, his guidance and protection as our fishers traverse Belize’ territorial sea in search of their catch and later in the day we will be having the official ceremony at the Coastal Zone training room whereby we will also be recognizing the outstanding fishers of Belize. There is the radio drama Punta Fuego and we’ll be recognizing the outstanding fisher, there was a competition held where people we asked the submit the names of who they believe could be an outstanding sustainable fisher in Belize, we’ve gotten those entries and we went through out selection process so we will giving out that award as well.”
Nadine Nembhard, the administration assistant of the Caribbean network of fisher folk organizations told us more about the history of the day.
Nadine Nembhard, Administration assistant
“From way back fisher man day has been celebrated in the Caribbean region but the history of this now is because it is tied into a Catholic practice. On the 29th of June each year that is called the feast of St. Peters day and if you notice the name San Pedro that is St. Peter and that is where they got the name from because San Pedro is a fisher folk community prior to its takeover by tourism and it was mainly Catholics that lived there and they decided that they wanted to name the town to acknowledge the fisher men and the community persons. So in the region fisher folk day is always celebrated and in Belize we used to celebrate it many days ago but it has not been celebrated for years. Since the late 80s one Caribbean country decided that this is something that we have always celebrated so why not make it something recognized and we do it within the 17 Caribbean countries regionally.”
To celebrate fisherfolks across Belize, you can join in the events planned. in place for Fisher Folk day now being held in Belize City, and find out whom the outstanding fisher will be this year.