Belize is being reported as one of the countries in the region that has been making significant strides in the Fisheries sector as it relates to policies and enforcement geared at attaining healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries. Recently, at the 2017 Oceans Conference in New York, USA, Minister of State with responsibility for Fisheries, Dr Omar Figueroa spoke on the efforts being made in the country.
DR OMAR FIGUEROA
“Belize’s experience with its small scale fisheries is a testament to the value of this approach. We utilize a combination of tools including integrated coastal zone management, marine protected areas, traditional and indigenous approaches and co-management involving local stakeholders. Belize boasts an extensive network of marine protected areas that amounts to twenty one percent of our coastal and marine areas. This is a tremendous accomplishment considering that only one third of the two hundred thirty two marine Eco regions worldwide have attained or surpassed the global benchmark target of ten percent and we are committed to increasing the percentage of no take zone by a further ten percent by twenty twenty. Belize is also the only country in the world to have developed a national multi specie system of marine tenure and zoning locally known as manage access. This system has proven reliable as a tool to empower traditional fishers to protect their fishing areas. One of the challenges to ecosystem management is the availability of analytic and scientific tools for its implementation. Here again Belize is working on an international scientific partnership to use a data limited approach for setting harvest controls on catch that will prevent and reverse overfishing. This innovative approach will establish Belize as a proof of concept for the science based management of small scale fisheries.”
Dr Figueroa went on to speak of existing frameworks that Belize does its best to abide by, adding that these frameworks, however, are not enough.
DR OMAR FIGUEROA
“Strong institutions and legal frameworks are a fundamental pillar to Belize’s approach to marine conservation and fisheries management but our national actions alone are not enough. WE rely on existing global and regional frameworks and arrangements to reinforce our national efforts. For Caribbean SIDS strengthening our regional indigenous institutions with better science and stronger institutional capacity is therefore a priority. At the global level we need a more coherent governance framework and we need to ensure that it is comprehensive including for marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Together these global and regional arrangements if rationalized, connected and strengthened could provide a working global ocean governance framework that would enable conservation and sustainable use. Co-presidents Belize is committed to being a responsible steward of the world’s ocean. WE have fully embraced SDG 14 and are well on tract to meeting the targets of that goal and we will not stop there. Belize has registered voluntary commitments that will take us beyond those targets. We look forward to partnering and leading in the implementation of the SDG 14. For the sake of our people we can ill afford to do less.”
The Oceans Conference took place from June 5 – 9 with representatives from various nations that are in support of the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. Goal Fourteen aims at conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources.