Today Oceana Belize launched its “Fish right, Eat right” campaign. It is a sustainable seafood imitative seeking to reduce irresponsible fishing. The education campaign is expected to provide incentives for fishers, retailers, restaurants, and consumers to promote and support the harvest, trade and consumption of sustainably and legally caught seafood. OCEANA’s Communications Director, Alyssa Carnegie, explained that the goal of this certification program is to curb illegal fishing and promote best practices in fisheries.
ALYSSA CARNEGIE: “Belize’s fisheries management is transitioning from open access to manage access and there has been meaningful improvements made in education compliance and improved stewardship at the macro level. However enforcement still remains a tremendous challenge. Legal unregulated and unreported fishing is many times imperceptible and has become a major contributor to local seafood fraud; that is Snook instead of Grouper fillets, gill netted fish instead of line caught fish, bone fish hash instead of snapper hash for fish balls. How does the saying go, you are what you eat? In this case you can also help to make a difference. With your support those fishermen restaurateurs and chefs who are helping Belize’s fisheries to reach or be on a trajectory toward sustainable levels through programs like manage access and the one we are here today to launch can adapt to the new realities. By investing in local fishermen and seafood providers many of whom know that good seafood is good business, you help strengthen our community, help create a stable market place and help fishermen feel more comfortable in making adjustments to improve the long term sustainability of the fisheries for generations to come instead of focusing on short term survival. It’s not about stopping fishermen from fishing it’s about making sure they can fish forever. Achieving this kind of supply chain transparency may sound ambitious but the truth is that it’s well within reach, we just need to push beyond business as usual and we must do it soon. Business leaders have a compelling opportunity and imperative to lead success. Through your resources, relationships, intellect talent and corporate policies there is no shortage of great ideas and opportunity before us so let’s get to it. “
Assistant Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Ralna Lewis, spoke about the months ahead in achieving the initiative’s end goals.
RALNA LEWIS: “In the upcoming weeks a national education and outreach campaign will be implemented which focuses on equipping our stakeholders who are primarily our chefs as well as our cooks and as well as informing our Belizean citizens providing them with the skill and knowledge to be able to identify seafood products. Secondly being aware of species that are over exploited, threatened or endangered. Many times we go to a restaurant and we are given shark as opposed to something else that is not threatened. Also being knowledgeable about our Belizean fisheries regulations and best practices that should be put in place when catching our seafood products. Also how to utilize alternative seafood options such as lionfish in an effort to reduce fishing pressures on species that are over exploited, threatened or endangered. Simultaneously a marketing campaign will be carried out to promote “Fish right Eat right”, compliant establishments among our locals and tourists in an effort to build support for these establishments that have taken up their roles to assist in protecting Belize’s fisheries sector by agreeing to purchase only seafood that is legally caught and those that are caught using the best fishing practices.”
While “Fish Right, Eat Right” is headed by Oceana it is also being implemented by Belize Tourism Board (BTB), Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) and supported by Oceana, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).