Attorney General's Address at Lobster Fest 2001
02 July, 2001 - Caye Caulker Village
Mr. Chairman of the Caye Caulker Village Council, Village Councilors,
Members of the Caye Caulker Veterans' Football Club, Special
Invited Guests, Proud residents of Caye Caulker, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is indeed an honor for me to have been asked to deliver an address on
this occasion and I thank you for extending that privilege to me.
In all societies of the world, from time immemorial, harvesting time
represents a time for the community to come together to give thanks for
a successful year of produce, to share with each other and to celebrate.
It is a practice going way back in time.
In the Unfted States, this coming together to give thanks and to share
with each other is called Thanksgiving. And although it is a distinctly
American celebration, many people in Belize celebrate Thanksgiving just
as if they were in the United States.
Well, Lobsterfest is our own distinctly Belizean thanksgiving. San
Pedro might have its Sea and Air Festival, but Caye Caulker has its very
popular Lobsterfest. It represents a coming together of the fishermen
and residents of Caye Caulker and indeed all Belize and Friends of
Belize to celebrate and give thanks for a successful harvesting season
of lobster. Lobster as you all know is not only a most delicious and
appetizing dish, but it is also a critical and important foreign
currency eamer for Belize and a commodity prized in the international
The LobsterFest means different things to different people. To some
people, among whom I am included, when I think Lobsterfest, I think of
that Lobster tail dipped in and dripping with golden garlic butter and
perhaps an ice-cold belikin. This is most certainly true for many
tourists and friends of Caye Caulker.
But for many other people, my friends, the Lobster fest represents
opportunity for many families to improve their quality of life. From
those countless lobster tails harvested year after year by dedicated,
hardworking fishermen and women from Caye Caulker, many sons and
daughters of Caye Caulker have been educated, many homes have been
built, many small businesses started and countless families sustained.
There is therefore every good reason for us to come together as one and
celebrate and give thanks. We must also take time out to acknowledge
the founders of this important event: the members of the Caye Caulker
Veterans Football Club. It was some of these people who had the vision
and the pride to create the Festival, in 1994, as a means of celebrating
the fisherman as well as a means of getting the wider community to share
in the great harvest.
Of course, lobster and its central importance to Caye Caulker and Belize
goes back many, many years before 1994. I am told, however, by older,
wiser heads that there was a time, not so very long ago, when chicken
was actually more expensive than lobster and lobster was not the prized
commodity it is today. But today, Lobster is King.
At the same time, while we celebrate, we must always be aware that
although the lobster industry is strong and vibrant, we must be
far-sighted enough not to sit on our successes and grow complacent. We
must take the necessary steps to ensure that our commodity remains
viable and marketable. As new trading regimes develop internationally,
our products will have to meet Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point
(HACCP) standards that will be strictly applied in relation to the
export of marine products.
This is why the Govemment of Belize has established and invested in the
Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) a statutory body charged
with ensuring that Belize's marine, animal and plant products meet
evolving standards for exportation to international markets. In
anticipation of these new protocols, lobster fishermen/women, through
their respective cooperatives, must reinvest in your plant facilities in
order to make for a smooth transition into the new trade regime.
Fishermen and Villagers of Caye Caulker You have come very far indeed.
You have every reason to feel proud and to have a deep sense of
accomplishment. We live in fast changing times with new challenges,
each more daunting than the other. But it is also a time of much
opportunity and creativity and we must not miss these opportunities.
Caye Caulker you do yourselves proud and you make Belize proud.
Congratulations to all of you on the start of another successful lobster
season. May King Lobster continue to be a source of great advances,
productivity and celenration for Caye Caulker and the people of Belize.