July 01, 2011

On Friday morning the Fisheries Department launched a new program called the managed access/catch shares program. Through the program, the department is hoping to improving benefits not only for fishers but for the marine ecosystems in the areas where it will be piloted. Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade tells us more about the program.

Beverley Wade – Fisheries Administrator
“Well the program we are launching today is really an incentive based management tool which is to complement our existing management regime that is in place. It is really geared at addressing the open access nature of our fisheries and so it is managing access to those fisheries by fishers. It is not only to allow traditional fishers to have greater participation in the management of the resources but to allow them to derive greater benefits from those resources through managed access which would then lessen the pressure that would be on those resources they have been traditionally fishing because you have now restricted the number of people who could actually fish those resources.”

Dalila Ical: You also said the program will help even the marine species?

Beverley Wade
“Yes, naturally because what you are now doing is alleviating a lot of that pressure you have on the resources on a given area. you are now saying in this given area there is a set number of people who are allowed to fish in that area. So, naturally the fish will rebound. It would go through a process of rejuvenation so you would have fishers now benefiting from increased fish stocks, larger sizes of fish and you will have trickledown effect to great economic benefits to them.”

Dalila Ical: Now, this is being implemented in all Belizean waters?

Beverley Wade
“No, it is a pilot project for now and it is going to be done in the Glovers Reef Marine Reserve and the Port Honduras Marine Reserve for two years. After that two years we go through a revision process to see how it went and the plan is to roll it out to all the marine reserves nationally and then look at a national quota for lobster at the end.”

About four hundred fishers will be taking part in the program. Today the department also inaugurated a new fisheries licensing system.

Beverley Wade
“We have done some improvements on our licensing system. One, to accommodate this new management tool because fishers who are participating will have to have a special license to take part and secondly we have looked at the overall licensing system and we have a new program to create better efficiencies and to look at how to better document fishers and to also provide them with a more modern and durable licensing card.”

Fishers who customarily fished in the areas where the program will be piloted are eligible for licenses which will eventually be necessary to continue doing so. Applications for licenses can be entered at the main Fisheries Department offices during normal working hours from Monday to Friday.

Live and let live