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#501134 - 02/16/15 09:04 PM Death of hammerhead shark shows gillnet ban need
Marty Offline

Scalloped hammerhead drowns in Hopkins fisherman’s gillnet

The death of a rarely seen Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) in the waters off Hopkins village after it became entangled in a gillnet, highlights the need to transition away from this destructive fishing gear. According to Oceana Belize’s investigations into the incident, the approximately 8’ Hammerhead swam into a gill net placed in the shallow waters on the north end of the village. By the time the fisherman pulled up his net on Sunday, February 15th, the shark had already drowned.

Once a common sight in Belizean waters, the Scalloped Hammerhead is today classified as a species endangered with extinction. Globally, it is estimated that in the last 30 years, the population of scalloped hammerhead sharks have declined by more than 95%. Known as “walls of death”, destructive gear such as gillnets and activities such as finning contribute to this staggering reality faced by shark species like the Scalloped Hammerhead.

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in every ocean and as such play a crucial role in the maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems. “Sharks have been swimming in the sea for more than 400 years,” says Oceana Belize’s Vice President Janelle Chanona. “It is truly saddening that in our generation alone, so many of these creatures could be wiped out forever.”

Oceana Belize commends the call made by commercial fishermen more than 18 years ago for taking a stand on this issue by asking for a legal transition away from gillnets. Sports fishermen also support the ban given the regional experience of collapse of economically important fish stocks such as tarpon, bonefish, snook and permit as a result of gillnets. According to local sports fishermen, every year, sports fishing contributes more than 100 million dollars to the Belizean economy and employs more than two thousand Belizeans. “From a sustainable management angle and an economic standpoint, gillnets have no place in Belizean waters. A ban of this gear is an important step towards responsible fishing methods.”

Gillnets are still classified as legal fishing gear in Belize; all nets must be registered. However, it remains unclear how many Belizeans are strictly gillnet fishermen. It is also clear that a lack of monitoring and enforcement of the regulations governing use of gillnets in Belizean waters by both legal and illegal gillnet fishermen pose serious threat to fish stocks.

Across the world, gill nets are being replaced by “clean” alternative fishing gear because of the severe negative impact nets have on the environment especially as it relates to the bycatch of charismatic species such as dolphins, turtles and even manatees.

OCEANA


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#501147 - 02/17/15 10:15 AM Re: Death of hammerhead shark shows gillnet ban need [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Rare Species of Hammerhead Shark Dies In Gill Net Near Hopkins

The drowning of a rarely seen Scalloped Hammerhead Shark in Southern Belize has brought into sharp focus the use of gillnets at sea. For years, fishermen have been calling for a ban and a few years ago, OCEANA joined in the call, but there was no progress. Gillnets are classified as legal fishing gears in Belize, but the number of fishermen using gillnets is not known. OCEANA took up the issue again after an eight-foot hammerhead was trapped and died in a gillnet over the weekend. The organization believes that the lack of monitoring and enforcement have added to the impacts on fish stock. This recent incident highlights the need for a ban on gillnet, says OCEANA Vice-President, Janelle Chanona. Andrea Polanco has the story.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This is a Scalloped Hammerhead Shark which died after it was caught in a gill net in Hopkins waters. Villagers reported that the shark was spotted circling in the shallow waters before it was caught. The photos, which were uploaded to facebook on Sunday, caught the attention of conservationists.

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, V.P., OCEANA Belize

“We contacted the person that posted the photos and according to him, an eight-foot Scalloped Hammerhead was landed by a fisherman from Hopkins in a gill net, just by the north side of Hopkins Village in very shallow water. By the time he hauled up the net, the shark had already drowned. He brought the animal to shore and that was how the photos were taken.”

In Belize, the variety of marine life has always been touted as a tourism attraction, particularly for divers. But marine life, like the Scalloped Hammerhead, does not enjoy protected status in Belize; although across the world it is already listed as endangered going into extinction. Within the last couple decades the population of this specie has been on the decline. Here at home, many divers now say that it is a rare treat to see a Scalloped Hammerhead. For sharks like the hammerhead to die as a result of the gillnet, it is simply unacceptable especially considering that the move to put a ban on gillnet, called for by fishermen, has been on the table for over a decade.

Janelle Chanona

“Well, the death of the Scalloped Hammerhead definitely highlights the need for a gill net ban, Andrea. All over the world, we are seeing where sustainable managed type of fisheries is moving away from this type of gear because it has high by-catch rates. It’s not just sharks; its turtles; dolphins; manatees. We’ve seen the regional extinction because of gillnets. We certainly believe that this incident highlights the need for a call made by fishermen. The OCEANA Belize campaign started in 2009, but we have documents dating back to 1997, where fishermen have been writing regulators saying please ban this gear and the effects of this ban and it is still an issue we are dealing with eighteen years later.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Why do you, OCEANA that is, and the fishermen are still unable to get this ban in place. What’s taking so long?”

Janelle Chanona

“Andrea, that is the sixty-four thousand dollar question because everybody is asking. Why is this gear still legal? It’s a question to be posed to Fisheries. We don’t know why there is this hesitation in getting this gear banned.”

And while some may ask what’s the significance of one shark? The specie has been around for some four hundred million years. But, as Chanona puts it in context, they may not be around for much longer:

Janelle Chanona

“In our generation, it could be wiped out; extinction. Yes, you are absolutely right, hammerhead in specific within the last thirty years has seen a ninety percent decline in that specie alone. So, you look at this one shark and wonder and pray that this is not the last shark in this area. It is a distinct possibility given what we are seeing in other parts of the world. This has very real implications and it needs to be taken as such.”

OCEANA says it will continue to press for the gill net ban and promote responsible fishing. Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

Channel 5


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#501523 - 02/25/15 08:02 PM Re: Death of hammerhead shark shows gillnet ban need [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Coast Guard confiscate gill net on Lighthouse Reef Atoll

On Saturday, February 21st the Belize Coast Guard, with the assistance of the Belize Audubon Society, confiscated a gill net illegally placed off of Hat Caye in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The netting caused the death of many fish, including a reef shark and the protected bonefish. The Coast Guard not only removed and confiscated the net, but they also apprehended the fishermen involved in the situation.

While the use of gill nets is not banned in Belize, the Belize Fisheries Department requires all nets, whether used for profit or nonprofit, to be registered before being placed in the water. This policy was enacted on July 1, 2013 to ensure the sustainable management of commercial fisheries, as well as protection of various species of fish. The regulation was set up in accordance with the Statutory Instrument No. 78 of the Belize Fisheries Act.

A registered gill net must not exceed 300 meters in open waters or 200 meters in freshwater bodies. The use of gill nets is prohibited along the shorelines of Monkey River or Placencia. Gill nets may not be set within a radius of one mile of a bridge or half a mile from the out-fall of a tributary, and must not be used in the New River Lagoon or its tributaries. Use of gill net is not allowed on Marine Reserves or Protected Areas. All fishermen using gill nets are urged to register their nets to avoid prosecution. A valid boat license and fisherman’s license is also required for registering a gill net. The certificate of registration for gill nets is valid for one year, after which it must be renewed.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun


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