In Belize, there are many who depend on the sea to provide work and food. As with everything, there are regulations and policies in place in order to preserve the industry and to ensure that it is maintained for future generations. While fishers are allowed to use gill-nets, it is not to be used in the marine reserves such as Turneffe Atoll. Nevertheless, gill-nets still make it into the reserve. Love news spoke with Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director for the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, TASA, the enforcement organization, who said that despite having a significant presence in the reserve with twenty-five patrols being conducted on a monthly basis, the organization is still grappling with the problem of gill-nets being used in the reserve.
Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director for the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association: “ On the story that Love FM ran you know we got information just like everybody else from the news item, from Facebook and then we gathered some information and we went out and we confiscated five gillnets. If any body sees any illegal activity with gillnets or otherwise that they please advise us. Our numbers are 670 8272 or 223 1928 or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and if not you can do so: you can inform the Fisheries Department and the Coast Guard was also key Sunday when we confiscated these. It was TASA conservation officers along with Coast Guard who went out o confiscate these items. You know it is of note that for enforcement to happen it is critical for the general public to get involved: for individuals, for groups, for Fishers, for Tourism providers to report that these illegal activities are happening and then we can take action based on the reports that we receive. Many times in Turneffe it is the Fishers because you have to understand that the Fishers that are traditionally or customarily used in Turneffe also report illegal activities and 90% of the time when we act on those information we are able to basically summons those people, make an arrest and take them to court.”
There are two conservation post and a third one in the making that can be found in the marine reserve from which patrols are conducted. Once again, TASA is urging the public to report any illegal activities by contacting them at 670-8272 or 223-1927.