The Belize Federation of Fishers today launched a unique documentary about Belizean fishermen. The over 1 hour production delves into the life of 7 Belizean Fishermen, highlighting their internal struggles as fisher folk on the sea as well as external issues affecting their livelihood. We spoke with some of the starring fishermen this afternoon at the Belize Elementary School Auditorium about what this documentary means to them.
They held an AGM this morning where they got to voice their concerns to Minister Lisel Alamilla. Some of those issues include limited funding, strengthening the cooperative and establishing a mechanism to regulate fin fish in Belize among others. The federation is working on selling the documentary in DVD format.
Fisher Folks Meet to Discuss State of Fisheries in Belize
The Belize Federation of Fishers held its first annual general meeting at the Belize Elementary School Gymnasium in Belize City today. The federation started back in 2011, but got incorporated in 2013 and is currently the voice of commercial fishers attached to eight member associations across the country. Since its inception, COMPACT, OAK Foundation and the Belize Protected Areas Conservation Trust have ongoing projects with the federation to build capacity for sustainable fishing, offering technical support as well as training on responsible harvesting of seasonal fisheries products and alternative lifestyles for fishermen. Today at its first annual AGM, Chairman Eleodoro Martinez spoke of some of the challenges facing the federation and its members.
Eleodoro Martinez, Chairman, Belize Federation of Fishers
“It has been a long road for us; since 2011, we have struggled, but today, we are witness that our work has given fruits and we have fishers from north to south. And today, all our member associations will be giving a presentation on what the work has been in the communities, how the federation has helped them to achieve these works and I think that’s what will be happening. And the documentary that will show the life of a Belizean fisherman….really how it is.”
“Talk to us about some of the challenges that the federation faces and as well as what you’ve seen these fisherfolks are saying are things that they face when it comes to the industry.”
“When it comes to the industry, the things that are the challenges are illegal fishing, a lot of fishermen in the industry…more marine protected areas which gives us less space and the lack of opportunities for alternatives. Many of our young people in the community that may not have the opportunity to go to high school may want to venture into the fishing industry and that puts additional pressures on us and the resources. I think that is one of the challenges that we face. Another one would be like, I said, the lack of opportunities and of funding to go into other alternatives that would help us.”
“What would you say is needed to move forward successfully for the federation and its members?”
“We need, I think, a little bit of recognition on the part of government and N.G.O.s because we fishers are trying our best. We want to be organized, but that could only be done with the help of government and other N.G.O. that could lead us.”