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#405031 - 04/14/11 02:31 PM OCEANA Buys Northern Fishermen Trawler
Marty Online   happy
Belize is the first country in the world to ban trawling completely. And it's thanks to the efforts of Oceana.

But, it's not that simple. There are implications of such a ban, particularly on the Northern Fishermen's Cooperative which owned the only two trawlers in the country.

The trawling ban will cost them about 750 thousand dollars annually in loss of revenues.

That comes out of the earnings of cooperative members, who are regular fishermen. So to somewhat offset that loss, OCEANA worked out an agreement to buy the trawlers for six hundred and fifty thousand dollars. OCEANA also added in 150 thousand towards a loan and grant agreement as compensation for giving up the industry.

At a signing over today in Belize City, OCEANA's Vice President Audrey Matura-Shepherd explained:

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Vice President OCEANA
"One of the biggest concern was that once there was a ban, the Northern Fishermen Cooperative that owns these assets would have been left with an asset in their hands that as no value. So they had to look at not only the aspect of, 'Yes we want to assist with doing whatever is best for environmental issues in Belize, but we have to look at what people make their livelihoods on, and all the investments they've made.' So the buy-out of the trawlers was to make sure that they didn't have that investment on their hands again, and that we would purchase them instead, and now that OCEANA owns the Trawlers, it will be accepting proposals to see how we should use them, or who should get them. But I can tell you what affected the price that we ended up giving was not only the actual value - the physical value of those vessels - we had to look at what the Cooperative actually owed the bank, so that its a value that they put on this vessel, even if we say that we could sell it for less or for more. And we also looked at the intangible value of them giving up something, but wrapped up in the intangible value is the fact that we created the loan scheme - the grant and loan scheme. One of the benefits is that by them selling the trawlers, they get to pay off their loan with the bank, and that's obligation that they want to get rid of. The other aspect that you can confirm with Mr. Ovel, is that the trawlers were not making and being as successful as it was at one point. So with the price of fuel going up, with them having to put one of the trawlers out of service, having to maintain the trawlers - dry-dock them and everything, they found themselves losing little by little each time, and they were only making enough money to pay off the bank. So if it was far more commercially viable, it would not have been an easy negotiation. I am sure that they would have requested far more money."

Ovel Leonardo, Chairman Northern Fishermen Cooperative
"When you look at Guatemala and Hunduras, they have trawlers; the're still doing it, but we're living in 2011 and there are changes. We have to live with the changes, and I believe that the society has to look into other ways of how we can make that money back, how we can diversify, and how we can work in the best interest of the country."

OCEANA is accepting creative proposals for what to do with the trawlers, the only condition being that they cannot be used for trawling anywhere in the world.

The eight hundred thousand dollars was raised by OCEANA's foreign funding partners.

Channel 7


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#405034 - 04/14/11 02:35 PM Re: OCEANA Buys Northern Fishermen Trawler [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

Oceana buys trawlers and signals a final end to bottom trawling

OCEANA and the Northern Fishermen Cooperative this morning sealed a deal for the purchase of two trawling vessels. The agreement follows a ban on all forms of trawling in Belize’s territorial waters. Aside from purchasing the trawlers, OCEANA will also be providing funding to the cooperative for small eco-friendly loans and disaster relief. One of the main donors is Sir Thomas Moore, a New York litigator and author who has been a long time supporter of OCEANA. News Five’s Jose Sanchez was on hand at Young’s Law Firm for the proceedings.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Outlawing Bottom Trawling in Belizean waters comes with a price tag between six hundred and fifty thousand to eight hundred thousand dollars. This afternoon Oceana penned an agreement to purchase two vessels from Northern Fishermen Society.

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Audrey Matura Shepherd, V.P. Oceana Belize

“When government agreed that they did not mind supporting the ban, one of the biggest concerns was that once there was a ban, the Northern Fishermen Cooperative that owns these assets would have been left with an asset that had no value. So they had to look not only at the aspect of yes we want to assist in dong what’s best for environmental issues in Belize, but we have to look t the reality of what people make their livelihood on or the investments they’ve had. And so the buyout of the trawl was to make sure that they didn’t have that investment on their hand again and that we would purchase them instead and then Oceana Inc. that now owns the trawling will be accepting proposals to see how we should use them or who should get them. A total of eight hundred thousand Belize dollars has been invested in this deal and of that six hundred and fifty thousand goes for the value of the trawlers and the remaining one hundred and fifty goes towards the loan and grant agreement that goes to benefit directly the fishers at Northern Fishermen Cooperative being the ones who are giving up trawlers and giving up the industry. They were the only ones who were operating.”

Ovel Leonardo, Chairman, National Fishermen Cooperative

“Eighteen years ago that the government was trying to minimize on the amount of trawlers we had here or the amount of foreign boats coming into the country. And they said if the two coops don’t buy their personal boats, then no more trawling. So northern went ahead and purchased one boat then they purchased another one so there were only a couple boats in the country. From that time it is not easy to give up something that you fight hard. We fishers had a big problem to convince them that yes we gotta get something that we love. But at the end of the day, we want work in the best interest of the country. So that’s why Northern end up buying the two boats because they wanted to minimize the foreign boats that we had vengeance with and I should say we owned our two boats and we were proud to have our two boats. But this time come about and so we end up working with Oceana and the government.”

The agreement also includes a section that directs the cooperative to give small loans to its members from the grant given by Oceana Belize.

Audrey Matura Shepherd

“The grant will be managed through the bank with NFC and they are to use that one to give loans to their fishers. That’s why it is a grant slash loan. We get back nothing.”

Ovel Leonardo

“The coops are owned by the fishermen and it only makes sense that the fishermen realize and as a coop you show them what you do. So if the fishermen they get something small off the trawler which they were doing it for quite some years. This is the way that they will feel; yes we get something small from the trawlers. There is something they will get back and that is to encourage them.”

Audrey Matura Shepherd

“What you have to understand is one of the benefits is that by them selling the trawlers, they get to pay off a good portion of their loan with the bank and that is an obligation they want to get rid of. The other aspect that—you can confirm with Mister Ovel—is that the trawlers were not making and being as successful as it was at one point. With price of fuel going up, with them having to put one of the trawlers out of service, having to maintain the trawlers—dry dock them and everything—they found themselves losing little by little. They were only making enough money to keep on paying the bank. So if it was far more commercially viable it would not have been an easy negotiation. I am sure they would have demanded far more money. So it was a give and take too because the bank had to agree because by the bank releasing these vessels as a result of the buyout, they made certain compromises too. So the bank has to be also thanked for their role in it.”

Oceana does not intend to keep the vessels but is looking for organizations that can make use of the trawlers. Within a month Oceana expects proposals for their future use, which does not include trawling. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Belize is the first country to institute a complete ban on trawling.

Channel 5


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#408277 - 05/20/11 02:28 PM Re: OCEANA Buys Northern Fishermen Trawler [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

What happened to Oceana’s trawler money?


Trawler brought by Oceana.
It was signaled as a great victory for the country when shrimp trawling was declared illegal in Belize. The victory was largely through efforts of Oceana along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries which secured the sale of the only two remaining trawlers in Belize which were owned by Northern Fishermen’s Cooperative. That deal was finalized on April 13th when Oceana Inc. transferred 800 thousand dollars to the Belize Bank. The money was to have been used for two purposes; the first being that 600 thousand dollars be used to pay for the boats themselves and the additional 200 thousand dollars were to have been used to set up a 50 thousand dollar trust fund for the fishermen and the remaining 150 thousand were to have been used to lend to fishermen.

We say were to have been used because, apparently the money is not all there. Almost immediately after the announcement was made that Northern was to have gotten the money, the tax department issued a claim on the moneys. Our information suggests that Northern owes in the region of 1.2 million dollars to on back taxes dating back a few years now. As a result of that immediately after the sale, it is our understanding that Northern had to pay 102 thousand dollars to cover interest on the debt to the tax department. That money is alleged to have come out of the 800 thousand dollars. Then the Belize Bank took its 600 thousand dollars for the boats leaving only 98 thousand dollars.

The problem now arises that the agreement with Oceana specifically requests that 200 thousand dollars be set aside for the trust fund and for lending to fishermen members of the cooperative. It seems however that all the money will now not be available. In speaking with Oceana’s vice president in Belize, Audrey Matura Shepard, she explained that there is an agreement that was signed between Northern fishermen cooperative and Oceana and she expects that the co-op lives up to the agreement.

The Guardian


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