There is no offense taken Bywarren.Your points are well taken. It's the age old problem. The catch 22 if you will allow. The fishermen of Belize plied the waters to feed himself and familys. For generations they took only what was necessary to sustain themselves and others.Along comes the "Tourist" and economic picture changes. Fishing now becomes a source of income not a subsistance nessecity.This,as far as the industry goes,is all well and good, and the entire tourist industry has raised the standard of living for many many Belize citizens. To continue to harvest fish for the sake of resale is not in and of itself a bad practice. However,overfishing plagues many parts of the world and could at one point be detrimental to Belize. Then we fishing tourists will go elswhere to enjoy that activity.
It was suggested by Don:
"But an answer may be as simple as discouraging the tourist inshore bait fishers from taking more fish than can be eaten at one meal,,, "
That statement was what brought me into it.
MY contention is:
It's not the tourist who is/could deplete the available fish. Most do practice catch and release. It's the guides who take all the fish caught by thier charters.With little regard to the numbers, or sizes of the catch to further thier profits. I understand where of you speak that it's the hotels, resturaunts who require that fish to feed the tourist.This could be supplied by fishfarms to supplement any shortfall by way of Quotas set forth in fishing regulation.The resources may be there, at the moment. The depletion of the resource,I belive, is inevitable if restriction of catch sizes and limits are not put in place.
Your point of the dredgeing to produce land to build more condos is also part of the problem. There in lies the dilema.Build condos, bring in more and more tourists, more and more resturaunts, more fish eaters, taking more and more fish to meet the demand and on and on. Or, limit the condos, maintain a sustainable Tourist population, set size and catch limits thus saving not only the environment, but the fish that will be surely be depleted if the current growth continues unchecked. It is predicted that by 2050 this depletion of fish will occur in many parts of the world. I hope belize is not one of those places.
BTW on a side note. I use and encourage the use of circle hooks. They do far less damage to the fish than even a barbless hook.