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Fisher of the Year for 2019 is rewarded

Fishing is the backbone of many Belizean households, which is why it is necessary to practice sustainable fishing. Many fishers who have been doing so for myriads of years are still able to depend on fishing as their primary source of income. Today, three fishermen who have been dedicated contributors to Belize’s economy as well as preservers of its resources were recognized at the Coastal Zone Management Authority. Before these fishers were awarded, however, Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade, spoke about how important it is for fishers to be involved with managing fisheries resources.

Beverly Wade – Fisheries Administrator: “The Belize Fishing Industry continues to be strong, production has been stable and continues to be a significant contributor to our national economy. It continues to provide jobs, food and income generation for thousands of Belizean’s from every corner of this jewel of ours.  In 2018 Belize Fisheries Export earnings amounted to approximately $38 million dollars with lobster earnings increasing to $24 million which is very much attributed to our fishers now looking at new markets. It is critical for us to enact the Fisheries Resources Bill given the central role of a good legislative framework to sustainable fisheries in Belize. We must also take some time to reflect on our current fisheries practices and to recognize that with our vulnerability to climate change and storms it’s even more important for our fishermen to obey the laws, to continue to be very much involved with the management of our fisheries resources. This month’s activities have highlighted the important role of fishers in the Belizean economy and to its people. It also brought to the front stage the importance of partnership and actors that are collaborating to achieve the goals geared towards sustainable small scale fisheries in Belize, congratulations to you all on a job well done. All our achievements and continued work have allowed you the fishing community to continue to participate in an honorable and very important activity which contributes significantly to the national economy but also to our national food security and culture.”

The first two fishermen who were awarded were Angel Faux and Mario Gonzalez. They were recognized for their contribution towards the fishing sector. Faux has been fishing for 37 years and Gonzalez for 33 years. Paulino Elmer Rodriguez, who is from Sarteneja, Corozal and has been fishing for 40 years, was awarded the prestigious “Fisher of the Year.” Rodriguez said he was surprised to receive the award, but will continue to support sustainable fishing practices.

Paulino Elmer Rodriguez – Fisher of the Year: “First of all I just want to say thanks for this recognition, really it was a surprise for me, I did not know about this. I just want to say thank you very much and I just want to say what my son has said. As a fisherman I need to continue supporting the manage access, a sustainable fishing, to be a responsible fisher and to support all fishers which is one of the most important for myself as a fisher and the Chairperson for the Fishing Coop. Thank you very much and I do appreciate it, as I said it is really is a surprise for me. I did not expect this but thank you very much.”

The prizes for the fishermen ranged from caye trips, massages, free lunches/dinners, monetary gifts, and others.////