Piloted in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Glovers Reef Marine Reserve, Managed Access was introduced several years ago as an initiative aimed at changing the way fishermen catch fish. The pilot project was deemed a success prompting the Government to implement Managed Access across Belize’s territorial waters. Nicanor Requena, Project Manager for the Environmental Defense Fund gave us an update.
Nicanor Requena, Project Manager for the Environmental Defense Fund
“Manage access now is seen as one of the successful case studies in the region and something that is now being contemplated to be replicated in countries like Honduras and in some places in Mexico and so it is one of those success stories that we can speak about here in Belize. Something that was implemented by the fisheries department, along with the Environmental Defense Fund and several other local partners. The goal of manage access is to instill stewardship in the users of these resources, fishermen as the primary users of these resources depend on these fishing resources for their livelihoods and so it’s a source of income, it’s also a major source of protein, and so if we have fishermen being more involved in the management of these resources they taking ownership being better stewards of these resources the end goal is that we will have sustainable fishing for the long term and that fishermen continue to have their livelihood, something that is very important for us as a country.”
According to Requena, activities in the reserves decreased due to effective communication among fishermen and stakeholders.
“More fishermen were reporting these, whatever illegal activities that were happening within the area and so better communication, better collaboration has been happening between the fishermen, the Fisheries Department and the co-managers in the case of Port Honduras Marine Reserve TIDE. This is something very important because at the end of the day when we look at it holistically in terms of the management of these resources the fishing resources this cannot be done alone by the fisheries department or the co-managers; this has to be a collaborative effort, fishermen have to be a part of it, all the stakeholders all the users of these resources have to be a part of it if we are to continue to have a sustainable fishing industry, one that will continue to provide protein for the communities that will continue to create employment livelihoods for our fishermen.”
Requena is working with the Fisheries Department and several non-government organizations. More than three thousand persons are registered as fishermen and woman however the impact of the fisheries industry is felt by about fifteen thousand people.