Last week, we told you about the Fisheries Pride Campaign at the Fisheries Department has been conducting to ensure that fisher folk are doing business in a sustainable manner.

Well, Oceana Belize, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Fisheries Department, and the BTB, want to ensure that they are rewarded for their efforts in following the fisheries laws.

Today, they launched a program brand called "Fish Right, Eat Right", and 7News was there to find out exactly what it is. Daniel Ortiz has that story:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
"Fish Right, Eat Right" - it's a new brand that Oceana Belize and its partners are hoping that with time you'll come to associate with high quality sea food which was caught through sustainable fishing practices.

Julie Robinson - Fisheries Lead, The Nature Conservancy
"This is a local brand that we will be promoting over the next 6 months - over the next year and developing with everybody that we see here in the room with the private sector, with the cooperatives, with fisheries and authorities, in order to develop a locally caught sustainable sea food supply chain. It will highlight establishments and fishers that abide by the regulations - that look to source their sea food sustainably."

Daniel Ortiz
"When I see "Fish right, Eat Right" what should I think when I go a restaurant per say?"

Alysa Carnegie - Communications Director, Oceana Belize
"You should think that that sea food has been sustainably caught, meaning using means that its spy catch, looking at a fish that's been sustainably caught that's in accordance with the law that follow seasons. It's not a juvenile, so if it's a snapper it measures up. If it's a mackerel it measures up to that size for the specific species and that it's responsibly source on behalf of the restaurants, of the establishments, of the food service provider."

It's like the Trip Advisor stamp but for restaurant owners and fishermen who want to see the fisheries industry survive fishing pressures, and to see consumers, take a stand against law breakers in the seafood trade.

Alysa Carnegie - Communications Director, Oceana Belize
"You help strengthen our local community. Help create a stable marketplace and help fishermen feel more comfortable in making adjustments to improve the long term sustainability of the fishery for generations to come instead of focusing on short term survival."

What would be the perspective of a fisherman which would cause him to break the fisheries laws to try to make a living?

Chef Sean Kuylen - Professional Culinary Artist
"You see right now north is blowing, fisherman will not go to sea. Gas is expensive. It is cold. I live in the south of the country and the guys go to Glovers Reef. Imagine you at Glovers Reef, you got your container with ice and day 2, you are not catching anything. Day 3, your ice is going down. What will you do? You will start to do things that are maybe not sustainably or practice the right fishing practice. Because that is human nature. I mean you would want to go in the non-fishing zones. You would want to bring back let's say shark or paggie or something. You will sell me snapper, but just because the circumstance is we are just human. Now how do I help? I am a chef and I would encourage all Belizeans to know your fisherman, know your source, because if you trust the person that even know where it came from, then you have that ethically sound person that we know - we will get it from them."

Chef Jennie Staines - Elvi's Kitchen
"I have been brought grey angelfish as snapper. I've been brought tilapia as snook or grouper or barracuda as snook and we've been working and we've been working very hard a few of us in San Pedro. But I am so happy about this, because at Elvi's I try to practice the correct thing. We fish right and we eat right."

And to make sure that it's not only consumers who get a tasty bellyful of healthy sea food, the initiative's partners have incentivized it for the private sector to buy into the brand.

Reporter
"The success of this is dependent on these restaurants, these organizations signing on. How are you guys going to get that to happen?"

Alysa Carnegie - Communications Director, Oceana Belize
"There is a lot of incentives, a lot of great initiatives coming on board for restaurants to sign up. So for example for the Belize Tourism Board to be considered a restaurant of the year and in their tourism awards, you have to be a part of this program. Flavors of Belize magazine which is Belize perhaps premier lifestyle and food publication, we are offered rates to people who are part of this program and so what we tried to do is make it a beneficial and incentivized kind of what you are already doing for signing on to this program."

The conservationists say that this is only the first step in rolling out the Fish Right, Eat Right" brand. There is an education campaign which they will embark on in the near future.

Channel 7


Fishing Managed Access Program Consultation Held in San Pedro - With the country looking at a decline in the fishing industry, dwindling supply of fish and marine products and the effects of overfishing, the Belize Fisheries Department is looking into implementing a Fishing Managed Access Program that will secure fishing grounds and empower fishermen to secure sustainable fishing practices.

What this means is that commercial fishermen will be required to obtain a fishing license that will allow them to fish in selected fishing zones pertaining to where they live and prevent them to infringe on other fishermen’s work zones. This practice will ensure what fishermen have their own areas that will provide for them and will not create the overfishing of marine life in specific areas of the country.

The Fisheries Department is moving away from open access fishing practices that allows anybody to fish anywhere in the country to the implementation of a managed access program that will limit their fishing zones but also ensure that each fisherman’s zone is protected from others who are not allowed to fish in.

The program is being implemented in every coastal community in the country, with each area forming a Community Managed Access Committee. The first of many organizing meetings was held in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, with the goal to form a local island committee. The first meeting was poorly attended, but President of the San Pedro Committee Alfredo Rubio, is working on getting the information across to all commercial fishermen on the island in order to form a strong committee.

Rubio was among the participants introductory seminar of the Fishing Managed Access Program that was held in December 2015 by the Belize Fisheries Department. He has been appointed the president of the San Pedro committee and is seeking six more members.

Rules and regulations will be set by Fisheries that commercial fishermen will have to adhere to or be fined when they infringe on them. These local committees around the country will serve to better inform all fishermen of these new fishing laws and for them to protect their zones with recommendations that they come up to present to the national board.

Under the program, Belize fishing grounds will be divided into eight fishing zones, out of which San Pedro commercial fishermen will be allowed to fish in two of the zones. The zoning of fishing grounds will allow the Fisheries Department to better regulate fishing laws and protect the marine environment. Each committee will be responsible for reporting illegal activities and self-policing their designated fishing zones with the support of a national authority.

Components of the Fishing Managed Access Program
Zoning: Recognize fishermen by giving them access to fishing grounds they depend on for their livelihood.
Licensing: Secure the rights to fish via a transparent, accountable and easier process for licensing.
Managed Access Committees: Fishermen will have the power to elect representatives to look after their interests and provide recommendations to better manage the fisheries.
Improved Enforcement and Compliance: Builds awareness and appreciation for better stewardship leading to less illegal fishing.
Science: Help measure improvement in fisheries and guides management decisions.
Monitoring and Catch Logs: Fishermen contribute to management by providing data that can be used to make sound management decisions.
Products and Markets: Improved quantity and quality of product for better prices and access to markets.

For more information on the program and joining the San Pedro Committee contact Alfredo Rubio at 635-4224, Isabel Magana at 602-7702 (edrielcast@gmail.com) or Andres Aldana at 632-8457 (andresaldana_17@yahoo.com) of the Belize Fisheries Department.