Ministry of Blue Economy Denies Crisis in Belize Fishing Sector
The Ministry of Blue Economy has responded to claims of crisis made by the Belize Federation of Fisheries (BFF). Last week the federation issued claims that the country’s fishing sector is in crisis mode. The federation, which is not a recognized association, noted that their claims were based on a draft report compiled by the Summit Foundation. The Ministry, however, has expressed grave concerns over the release, and has said that contrary to the reports, the fisheries industry is not in crisis, and that the federations’ comments were irresponsible, baseless and riddled with ulterior motives. The ministry further notes that the draft report by the Summit Foundation has not been validated nor endorsed by the Government of Belize and did not include a wide range of stakeholder engagement, especially with the representatives of fisher folk organizations. The ministry added that it has formally written to the Director on this matter expressing major concerns about the draft report and is currently awaiting a response. The release goes on to say that internationally that Belize is one of the few countries that are well advanced in the management of small-scale fisheries and is also a member of two Regional Fisheries Institutions: the Organization of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector in Central America (OSPESCA) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). In ending the ministry says that the government has also been fully compliant with the management regime for Queen Conch as prescribed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Flora and Fauna. Notably, the Ministry is yet to make an official statement on Rain Forest Seafoods after the company was busted trying to export twenty-Two Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-Seven pounds of undersized conch.