The Belize Fisheries Department is changing the way fishermen catch fish through a stakeholder based initiative known as Managed Access. This divides Belize's territorial waters into 9 fishing zones. A smaller pilot project like this was launched in 2011 and it targeted two zones, namely the Glovers reef Marine Reserve and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. The successes in these two areas have given the department enough confidence to expand this initiative to encompass all of Belize's territorial waters. But now with more stringent regulations governing fishing activities in Belize how are the 3 thousand licensed fishermen in Belize taking it? Well we found out this morning when we attended the official launch of the project at the Fisheries compound in Belize City.
Beverly Wade - Administrator. Fisheries Dept.
"So, manage access in Belize really a big deal. Traditionally, we've approached our fisheries resources as an open access fishery and that really means there was no structure approach in place as to how fishermen go out and target the resources. If you look at Fisheries management globally, Open Access Fisheries are often referred to tragedy of the commons, because what it means is that there is no order, no structure, everybody just dives in and they access the resources. So, what we have done is that today is an historical day because we've actually now implemented a system where we have now in place a structured approach to how fishermen look at the resources. It now comes with secure tenure ship for fishers. So, fully we are able to work with fishermen and to sit with them, find out where they're fishing, what they're fishing for and to actually now incorporate that into a formal system."
"Talking to your other fellow fisher folk, what has been the response to this program?"
Daniel Dawson - Belizean Fishermen
"Well, at the beginning it was difficult, as we all know that fishermen are sell employed they don't like to be told what to do, they don't like rules, but now they are seeing the benefit. They are understanding the program better. They are complying with it. For starters, if there's an area for you to fish and if you would abuse and would go beyond that you could be charged. Those are some little areas that some fishermen do not like, but it will help because if you have a 100 traps here, you could identify your traps from your boundary to the other boundary. It's really beneficial for them."
The Fisheries Department hopes that by the next 2 years they will have every licensed vessel fitted with vessel monitoring systems to keep track of the various fishing activities in the 9 zones. In addition to this the department will also be implementing a vessel color coding system to aid them in their various monitoring efforts.