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Supreme Court Denies the BFCA’s Application for a Judicial Review of the Gill Net Ban

The Supreme Court of Belize has denied an application made by the Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association to request a judicial review of the decision made by the former administration to ban gill net fishing. The association says that the law passed under Statutory Instrument number 158 or 2020 was biased and did not take into account the livelihood of such gill net fishers. However, the Judge’s ruling says quote “When one looks at the course of events connected to SI 158 of 2020 and the complete ban on gillnets, it clearly reveals the important fact that there was consultation. The facts are that the issue of gillnets has been under consideration since 2010 in Belize as seen in the Ministry’s report in 2016. The use of gillnets in Belize is regulated by SI 78 of 2011 wherein gillnets are prohibited except in certain circumstances.” Back in March, the association had issued a release stating that the Ministry of Blue Economy was refusing to meet with concerned fishers and that it was seeking to change the Statutory Instrument 158 of 2020 passed November five last year, which banned the use of gillnets. The Association had also filed a lawsuit against the Minister of Blue Economy on the decision that was made by the former Minister of Fisheries, Omar Figueroa in 2020. In response to the lawsuit that the Minister received a few days after assuming office, his team at the ministry had sought the legal support of the Attorney General’s Ministry. Today OCEANA’s Vice President commented on the ruling saying quote “We appreciate the Supreme Court taking the time to review the process that resulted in the ban against gillnets. The Court’s decision confirms the thoroughness of the process and the integrity of the ban. We look forward to continuing to work alongside registered fishers, the Government of Belize, private sector and others as we enhance and increase the abundance of Belize’s marine resources to safeguard our dependence on the Caribbean Sea.” Our newsroom also reached out to the Ministry of the Blue Economy who declined from giving a comment on the issue.