I attended the meeting last night. What a HUGE DISSAPOINTMENT! The representative from the CMZ was insulting by the way he made light and attempted humor of a serious situation. He stated that the law stands as written and if anyone is engaged in fishing or on a boat capable of fishing, they need a $20 license.
There were many comments about the unfairness and difficulties in attempting to abide by the law as written. He did say that they were giving consideration to exemptions in areas where the law is unfair as in not requiring the captain of the boat to have the license, children on board and possibly exemptions for older people. But as the law stands, everyone is required to purchase a license.
This law needs to be repealed and reconsidered taking into consideration the inequities to the Belizean people and the negative effect it will have on adding an additional cost to an already expensive fishing destination.
The CMZ representative incorrectly stated that the cost of the license was in line with other destinations. That is wrong. For example, three of the competing countries for the salt water fisherman, Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico, all have lower fees by more than half. Panama has no fee. Costa Rica is $24US for a year and Mexico is less than the proposed Belize fee. These numbers are based on the cost of an annual license. If you compare on a daily basis, Belize is even far more at a disadvantage.
This law, if allowed to stand, will definitely reduce the number of tourists who will fish in Belize or the number of times they will fish while here. Take into consideration, if a tourist elects not to fish for a day, the GOB looses $20. A fishing guides looses five or six hundred dollars. This is at a time when the people of Belize need all the work they can get.
This is irresponsible on the Government’s part, and just another example of it’s continuing to destroy the economy along with allowing the destruction of the environment, specifically the marine ecosystem, by allowing the uncontrolled development and “manufacturing” of land by mangrove removal and dredging.