The Belize Network of Non-governmental Organizations (BNN) has called for an investigation into reports of foreign fishers coming into Belize and protesting the ban of gill nets. A release from BNN states that they are appalled at reports that, “non-resident fisher folk entered Belize via our southern border over 2 weeks ago without clearing Customs or Immigration and were transported to Belmopan to participate in a media appearance in favor of the continued use of gill nets in Belizean waters.” Senator Osmany Salas spoke to Love News on their statement and noted that an urgent investigation into this situation is required.
Osmany Salas, Senator Representing NGOs: “We received reports from multiple sources that non resident fishers came to Belize to participate in some sort of demonstration expressing support to gill net fishing. We have been made to understand that many of the individuals who participated in those demonstrations were from across the border ,Guatemala, and they entered the country without checking in at immigration on the way in and without checking at immigration on the way back from Punta Gorda to Guatemala. Gill net fishing we believe it’s a destructive harvesting practice, it is an indiscriminately destructive practice and we feel that the use of gill nets in Belize should be phased out and for those who depend on that some of our members from the Belize Network of NGOs have already started an initiative whereby they could support a process of phasing out the use of gill nets and a kind of buy back program where gill nets could be bought and fishermen could be trained to engage in better fishing practices.”
The Belize Network of NGOs reiterated their support to ban gill nets as they are notorious for indiscriminately trapping and killing marine life. They added that the Belize Coast Guard has already publicly stated that a phase-out/ban of gill nets would significantly boost enforcement efforts against illegal fishing activities. Addressing illegal fishing activity in Belizean waters is, and therefore should be treated as, an urgent national priority.