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Will National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan address gill nets?

Gillnets are used both legally and illegally as there are mesh size limits and site limitations for proper use. Oceana Belize has called for the ban on the use of gillnets and a ban would have an impact on traditional users. Love News asked the CEO for the Ministry of Fisheries about the plan of action for the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan and if there were any suggested changes to the use of gill nets.

Dr. Percival Cho CEO Ministry of Environment: “NBSAP is available online, as you know there are several targets in that NBSAP that have to do with Ecosystem management ,species, conservation etc. There are some areas that have to do with, that we are currently working on like the new Fisheries Bill as well as the Northern Corridor  and the Central corridor that are activities that are targets that are under the NBSAP sop currently its not a document that has targets that we are not achieving. We are working actively towards achieving some of those targets within the next few couple years or so. Some of the targets are currently being achieved at this time and I think we are well on the way to achieving that within the time frame.

Jose Sanchez: “Okay are you looking at expanding replenishment zones or NPA’s,  are you looking at maybe some of the calls from some groups like Oceana to ban to use of Gillnets. Are there any specifics you can share?”

Dr. Percival Cho CEO Ministry of Environment: Sure as you know Cabinet asked the Ministry to develop a task force and we have done so to look into the improvements of the use of Gill nets. Whether or not that leads to additional closed off areas because currently there are areas where Gillnets are banned within this country or wether or not it leads to a full scale ban within our waters it will be based on evidence and data so we will be making an informed decision and the process has begun, we are doing consultations, we expect to ask the general public for comments in the next few weeks or so and so yes Gillnets is one of the things on the radar. Certain institutions in Belize have their opinions on what should be done in respect to Gillnets and several other things but again we have to be based on evidence on our decision making and on people’s real conners.

Jose Sanchez: “Because there are traditional fishers who use Gillnets?”

Dr. Percival Cho CEO Ministry of Environment: “There are people who use Gillnets, people who legally use Gill nets but the main idea behind the whole things is to reduce the damage or the negative effects that Gillnets cause on species that are not targeted: Sharks, some of the Bonefish, some of the Fly fishing species. The idea is to improve the management of Gillnet, probably exclude them from certain areas where it is very sensitive but all of them has to be informed with some level of data and evidence.”`

The National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan was first revealed to the public in July. Consultations are expected with the public soon.