Managed Access is a rights-based fishing program that gives traditional fishers access to fishing grounds. By providing traditional fishers with secured fishing grounds, the program should reduce pressure on the ecosystem while providing an incentive to do legal fishing. Managed Access was rolled out in June 2016 and according to Nigel Martinez, the director of the Belize Federation of Fishers, there are still some kinks in the system to be worked out.
Nigel Martinez: “The BFF fully support the rollout of the Manage Access because we felt moving away from an open fishery was significant in addressing some of the issues that we are facing within the industry, however I have stated categorically that there are several components of the Mange Access program that needs to be addressed, when we talk about the data, when we talk about the logging of information, there is more issues with that, when we talk about the composition of the Manage Access committees there are major concerns because the committees are not functioning. If the fishermen are saying that they cannot determine who fishes in their area, that’s a very major concern for us, we also want look at the zoning, we have Turneffe for example that have over 900 plus fishermen registered for this area and I can tell you in 2015 there was 250 plus fishers licensed for Turneffe. In 2016 800 plus fishers was licensed for Turneffe, some of these people have never seen Turneffe before, has never come to Turneffe before and so we have some major concern about some of the components of the Mange Access program and we are asking the Fisheries department for us to revise and look at these components so that we can make the necessary adjustments before it’s too late.”
Martinez says that there also needs to be more enforcement of the fisheries regulations in all marine reserves.