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#499052 - 12/16/14 03:53 AM The Future Of Fisheries
Marty Offline

They were awarded last year for drafting the Central American Fisheries and Aquaculture Integration Policy by the Food Agriculture Organization and today discussions continue on the future of fisheries in Central America. The Ministry of Forestry and members of SICA and the Organization for Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Central American or OSPESCA met today at the Biltmore to engage members in the development of fisheries on a national and regional level. Mauro Gongora, Fisheries Officer for Belize outlined the objectives of the policy and the overall benefit to small business fishermen and large scale fishing cooperatives.

The policy was initiated in 2005. Over 150 fishermen will benefit from this policy.

Channel 7

#499054 - 12/16/14 03:57 AM Re: The Future Of Fisheries [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Majority of Caneros Support The Cane Compromise; Minority Have Misgivings

But turning now from today's political festival to the stuff that really matters..

The sugar crop season could start as early as Friday. That is after the general membership of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association agreed to a compromise yesterday in San Roman Village. That was the venue for an emergency general meeting to consider three points of compromise, which would make way for a sugar crop. We were there to see how the tide turned towards compromise:..

Daniel Ortiz reporting
This is the show of hands in support of starting the cane crop and agreeing to the three points of compromise.

It was voted a majority - and the three points - as put forward by the prime minister were agreed to.

That means, finally, they will have a sugar cop and soon:

Jules Vasquez
"Mr. Chairman, first of all, are you relieve?"

Ezequiel Cansino - Chair, BSCFA Cmte of Mgmt
"Yes I am relieve, since the cane farmers accepted the proposals and I feel better relief."

Alfred Ortega, Member, Negotiating Team
"Personally, no. I am not happy with this because I think we have gone through two years trying to negotiate something better for the farmers and then we reach to this point where we are back to square one. I personally am not in agreement with this, but as how I said before, the majority has speak and we have to respect the decision of the majority."

And it was a decision that Ortega and others fought against bitterly on the floor. Ortega even called the directors thieves, robbing the farmers:

Monchie Cervantez also made an extended presentation questioning all three points - but chairman Cansino called him out as a member of the negotiating team who could have voiced those objections at the negotiating table:

But despite passionate objections - the three point compromise was passed:

Alfred Ortega, Member, Negotiating Team
"I think they understand a little bit, but they came with something set to go through with this."

And the man who gave voice to that predisposition was former PUP deputy Prime Minister Pablo Marin, who put forward the resolution to accept the compromise - putting a neat finish on an arduous ordeal of a negotiation.

But there is some question as to whether they fully understood what was contained in the compromise - and explanations by THEIR lawyer CHRIS COYE, which were both in English.

Cane Farmer
"This is not correct man. Give us the correct thing that you have that you are explaining to us. I am trying to follow, but I could not follow it. Don't do those things again man. You are a lawyer."

But in the end none of that really mattered - It is a done deal.

Alfred Ortega, Member, Negotiating Team
"What should happen next is that they should be informed to the government and to BSI, so that a signature can be taken maybe to the latest Wednesday and then to get an interim agreement to start the crop Friday or Saturday."

Ezequiel Cansino
"Tomorrow we will communicate with BSI and the two attorneys of both parties will sit and start to work on the agreement and then we will try to best to sign it maybe tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday."

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"You think they are making a mistake going for the quick buck over sustainability of the industry?"

Alfred Ortega
"Personally yes. I believe that we should think for the future rather than only thinking for today having one plate of food for today. I think we should be mature enough to think what we want for the future because as you can see the vulnerably group within the industry is the farmers and if we don't take care of what we have or what we can get, then that means that we are only mis-using what we have in hand which they could have taken out much more benefit and make better decision for the future."

Ezequiel Cansino
"As directors, we saw that if we continue in that point we would never get an agreement with BSI. So, in the best interest of our cane farmers, we proceeded to do this."

Cane Country Christmas Cheer Or Fleecing Fair Trade Funds?

But that breakthrough resolution wasn't the only one taken on Sunday. In the heady moments right after that was passed - another was tabled and approved - for the Cane Farmers to dip into the fair trade funds - and take out 2.5 million dollars to share equally amongst all farmers. It's a sort of cane country Christmas cheer - except that it's more like a fair trade fleecing since the regulations of the programme don't permit that type of wanton spending. But, in cane country the majority always rules - and that's how the resolution was passed even with universal apprehension form the industry leaders we spoke to:..

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"Can you tell us about that?"

Alfred Ortega, Member, Negotiating Team
"Well you know as this point as Jules said that the economic situation is in a bad situation. The farmers will have approved right now that they would want an amount that would set aside for the next upcoming year in regards to the fair trade premium, that they would want 2.5 million dollars to be distributed amongst the farmers so that they can have something for Christmas and they have passed the motion. It is the farmers that approved, so that motion has gone and I believe that it will happen."

Mike Rudon, Ch5
"Basically, all that's left is for you all to figure out how you will divide this 2.5 million?"

Alfred Ortega, Member, Negotiating Team
"According to the motion that was passed that it will be granted into equal part to each farmer, no matter what was the amount that the farmer delivers. So it will be a division based on the amount of farmers that deliver cane last year; if it is 5,500, then the 2.5 million will be divided between 5,300 farmers."

"The CEO warned that this was not something that fair trade endorses; the use if this funds."

Alfred Ortega, Member, Negotiating Team
"Even myself because we as the leaders, we have to try to guide the process to the farmers for them to understand what all needed to be done and what is the expectation of the people that are out there that are buying our sugar under fair trade certification and they would want to see happen, with investment of those premium. But notwithstanding that, it is only the voice of us trying to guide the process."

Ezequiel Cansino - Chair, BSCFA Cmte of Mgmt
"I am very concern about that because lowering the standards pf fair trade and they might have some precautions to us. We should have maybe stop this motion, but the general assembly voted for that and we will comply and even though we will have some problems with fair trade."

Jules Vasquez "Are you are able to comply with a motion even if it's against the rules? Let say they take a resolution to burn down all the cane fields - you can't do that because it's other people's property. I am saying, are you prepared to comply with something that's manifestly against the rules of fair trade?"

Ezequiel Cansino - Chair, BSCFA Cmte of Mgmt
"Of course not. Also the standards of fair trade, we have that the cane farmers are the ones who decide what we will do with the money."

The financial controller of the Cane Farmers Association told us he would resign before writing out the fair trade cheques for farmers.

PM Says Credibility Was On The Line With Cane Compromise

Today, Prime Minister Dean Barrow - who's usually willing to talk about any subject under the sun - would strictly not comment on the fair trade fleecing. But he was eager to talk about the cane compromise - especially since the compromise is one that he and his deputy hammered out and drafted. He told us today that his credibility was on the line:..

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Of course I feel personally extremely gratified. I did put a lot into it and again the support from the Deputy Prime Minister was critical, but if I had put off my Cuba trip, come back here and shuttling between the two sides and not produce an agreement, I suspect that my own credibility would have suffered a great blow. So, the fact that there has been this victory is something that I greatly savor, that I greatly relish and I am thankful."

Opposition Leader Has Mixed Feelings About Cane Compromise

PUP Leader Francis Fonseca wasn't quite so impressed. Like former PUP convention candidate Alfredo Ortega, he has misgivings about the future of the industry. He explained his reservations today:..

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Leader of the Opposition
"We are glad that the crop will start in the very near future. We are glad for that because that's important to the economy of Belize - the economy of the north. But we are also very concerned about the future status of the cane farmer. We accept the decision of the farmers. I agree with Fred Ortega that there is obviously a great level of concern moving forward because as he put it, the farmers are right back where they were at the beginning of this entire process. Some will say they even gotten deeper into a hole and certainly we don't support any move in the direction of turning our cane farmers into mere cane cutters. They have to be an integral part of this industry moving forward."

Prime Minister Barrow says he expects that the crop season can start as early as Friday.

Channel 7


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