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Joined: Oct 2003
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From: Sue Harris [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 3:01 PM
To: Chris Harris
Subject: Minister to attend meeting of outraged citizens tomorrow

The Minister of Fisheries the Hon. Rene Montero is said to be planning to attend a meeting to be held in Punta Gorda tomorrow, Wednesday 3rd December at the Father Ring Parish Hall at 3pm.

The meeting is to discuss the outrageous proposal that Jamaican interests are to be given unfettered access to the entire Belizean fishery. It seems that they will be taking the entire catch to Jamaica, and will be leaving Belize with just 10 to 15% of the catch, and will be selling it to Belize at a price to be dictated by the Jamaicans.

The meeting will be attended by angry fishermen from the entire south coast, as well as environmental and citizens' organisations who are deeply concerned about the future of Belize's fishery, reef, and tourism if these agreements are allowed to procede.

For further information, please contact Sue Harris, Director of Public Relations, SCCSD.

South Coast Citizens for Sustainable Development

674 3474

Belize based travel specialist
[email protected]
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,536
DOE hasn't been consulted about Jamaican fishing company

[Linked Image] On Monday night we reported that the vessels of a Jamaican Fishing company had docked in southern Belize to, among other things, begin fishing for the export market. That company, which goes by the name of PG Fishing Company Limited, is here through a joint agreement with a local fishing group, the Rio Grande Cooperative. But the Fisheries Department has put the brakes on their plan and did not grant them a permit to conduct deep sea fishing. PG Fishing says it wants to catch fish stock not usually sought by local fishermen. Fisheries Administrator, Beverly Wade, told News Five on Monday that there needs to be adequate consultation among the relevant agencies before any type of permit is granted. Wade said there has to be proper monitoring of the operations, and no permit will be granted until this is in place. The arrival of the Jamaican company over the weekend sent the community up in arms due to concerns of overfishing. Today we spoke via phone with Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria, who said his office has not yet received any proposal from the company for fishing activity in Belize. Alegria says there have been fishing operations done before in Belize, but only after the required consultation. This is no different venture, Alegria says, as his department will play its role because it would be involving an environmentally sensitive area.

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer

"Even when we do environmental screening process we usually have lead agencies that are responsible for the particular type of project. For example, in this case it's a Fisheries management issue, so in reviewing environmentally, Fisheries Department would be one of the key agencies to spearhead assessments and recommendations for these types of projects. And then depending on the activities of the fisheries type project, they might be talking about utilizing the Barrier Reef and that's where then other agencies come in, including mine, to analyze those types of projects. But the lead agency is Fisheries Department. If it is involving something related to the coral reef of Belize then we would get involved."

Marion Ali
"To what extent though?"

Martin Alegria
"For example you are talking about - in assisting Fisheries Department in this case to assess the project, we from an environmental perspective, they from the sustainable maximum yield type of perspective of fisheries management."

Live and let live
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,536
Rainforest Seafoods wants 15 year tax holiday in Belize

[Linked Image] Over the weekend the vessels of a Jamaican fishing company came ashore in Punta Gorda. It bore the name PG Fishing Company Limited which was born out of an agreement with the Rio Grande Cooperative, a local fishermen cooperative. This irked the local fishing community and officially the word was that no license would be given to the company until consultations are held. But today News Five has learnt that there is another Jamaican company that wants to get in the fishing and aquaculture industry at a scale so massive it could unsettle the country's entire fishing industry. A December second confidential Cabinet Memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries which was released to News Five reveals that the Jamaican group intends to build a facility that would be able to process up to two million pounds of seafood per annum. On the surface it sounds like a good deal. However, a 2006 study showed that total fish production by the five main cooperatives were estimated at one million two hundred thirty-nine thousand two hundred and thirty-one pounds. So how would the Jamaican company double production of the local cooperatives and do so without bringing fierce competition? The company in question is called Rainforest Seafoods Limited. Its current link to Belize is through a relationship with Aquamar Limited, a seafood export company that belongs to local businessman Mike Dunker. The Cabinet memorandum mentions that it will also have its own fishing boats, leaving speculation as to the manner in which it would fish in our waters. Rainforest Seafood says it will build a three million dollar state of the art processing plant on two acres of land close to the deep water port at Big Creek in Independence Village and it will hire forty locals. All it fishes and produces will be for the export market. But what does it want in return for the forty jobs it will bring to Stann Creek? According to the cabinet memo, Rainforest Seafoods is applying for four concessions for its operation. It wants two acres of land at Big Creek; Duty free access for all materials to construct and outfit the plant; and assistance with power supply to the site. But even if you were thinking the taxes on the operation might make it worth the stiff competition with the local cooperatives and the depletion of marine life, Rainforest does not want to pay any taxes. The company wants a tax holiday for fifteen years as an export incentive. Industry stakeholders have made noise to Belmopan and the proposal, it seems, might be temporarily on hold. We'll have more on this developing story on tomorrow's newscast.

Live and let live
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,536
Toledo Fisher Folk Up in Arms over Jamaicans

[Linked Image] Fisher folk in the Toledo District have come together in opposition to fishing contracts that were allegedly granted to three Jamaican companies to mass export Belizean fish on the world market. In a letter to Minister of Fisheries Rene Montero, the South Coast Citizens for Sustainable Development wrote specifically about a 15 year contract signed on September 2nd between the Rio Grande Fishermen's Cooperative Society and PG Maheries Company Limited - a company allegedly owned by three Jamaican nationals.

In the 12 page contract, the Jamaicans will be allowed to import two large fishing vessels along with a "specialized" crew, and more importantly - the rights to access fish outside the barrier reef. Under the agreement, 85% of the fish harvested from Belizean waters will be solely for the export market. Those conditions in the contract have led to concerns from fisher folk in the area who are already grappling with a depleted fish stock. They held a town meeting this afternoon in Punta Gorda Town. Our team was there and Keith Swift has this report.

Guadalupe Lampsella, Fisher Folk - Riversdale

"I am so mad about what is going on."

Guadalupe Lampsella and these other fisher folk from Toledo are mad, angry, and concerned about the presence of these Jamaican registered and owned fishing boats loaded with traps which have been docked near Front Street in Punta Gorda Town since Saturday.

Guadalupe Lampsella,

"My concern is about these fishermen and the boat from Jamaica coming into the waters of Belize for fishing. I don't think we need any more fishermen, we have more than enough right here in Belize. We don't need anyone either to come and teach us to fish. I don't care if they are from Jamaica, if they are from Guatemala, or if they are from Honduras or Mexico. We don't need any more fishermen here in Belize. We have enough."

Eloy Cuevas, Monkey River

"This agreement that has been draft up with Rio Grande Cooperative and the Jamaican company, I think they should have consultation meeting with the fishing communities around southern Belize before that agreement was signed because this won't just affect Punta Gorda Town fisher folk. This will affect the entire southern part of the country, the whole country on a whole this will affect down the road."

[Linked Image] Martin Reyes, Punta Gorda Town

"According to the agreement, they will buy fish for $2.50 a pound. In Belize fish right here in PG is $4 a pound and fillet is $6 a pound. In Belize City it is $8 or $9 a pound for fillet. So why would we go down backward instead of going forward? We are looking to go forward. We are not looking to go backward. What we intend to do is to make them move from here and go back to Jamaica because they don't have nothing to give anybody in Belize. They are just taking from we and we tired of people coming here just grabbing and going. We want good for ourselves and we rather leave the fishes there for our grandchildren and our children's children for the next thirty or forty years."

Daniel Castellanos, Monkey River

"We don't want no foreign company come destroy our area. I think Jamaica, they caused what they have right now. They got foreign companies to fish in their waters, they destroyed what all they have, and now they want to come and destroy our areas. I would ask the Minister of the Fisheries Department to don't allow those guys to fish in our waters."

[Linked Image] Eloy Cuevas,

"All of us know that our marine products they are going down, they are declining very rapidly and by increasing the fishing pressure it will just take it down much faster and this is what we don't want."

Martin Reyes,

"We want them out because we need we fish for ourselves. We don't need to send our fish nowhere. What I would want is for them to help some of the fishermen to uplift themselves and our own Belizeans can help each other for them to uplift themselves. They are talking about renting or selling boats to the local fishermen, we have our own type of boat because their boat look cranky and that is not the type of boat you use in these waters."

Guadalupe Lampsella,

"I would just hope that our Prime Minister would listen to us. Please Mr. Barrow, please listen to us: we really want these guys out of Belize. We don't want these Jamaican fisherpersons with these boats and traps here in Belize. We don't want that. We would like the government of Belize to stop that immediately."

But according to government nothing has started -at least not yet. Senior Fisheries Officer George Myvette was at this afternoon's meeting and he says no license has been granted.

George Myvette, Senior Fisheries Officer

"No license has been granted to the Jamaican operation in Belizean waters. As far as we know they have essentially come the process of being admitted in Belize, they have gone through Customs, they have gone through Immigration, but there has been no application for license to fish in Belizean waters."

Keith Swift,

"So there is still a possibility they can get a license?"

George Myvette,

"The conversation that we've had with the Minister is that Cabinet has made a decision not to accommodate the fishing arrangement. This is not necessarily saying that Cabinet does not agree with the joint venture. We are simply saying that as far as extracting the fisheries resources is concerned, especially by foreign parties, this will not be accommodated from a policy perspective."

The September 2nd contract was witnessed by a fisheries officer but again Senior Fisheries Officer George Myvette says that doesn't make it official. But even if it was, this morning on Krem Radio - Prime Minister Dean Barrow voiced his disapproval to the terms in the contract. It is important to note that the agreement or the contract was signed with the Rio Grande Fishermen's Cooperative which is a Belizean group of fishermen. Again 85% of the fish produced by the cooperative would be for the export market. One of the other two contracts under scrutiny is reportedly with Rainforest Seafoods in Independence.

Live and let live
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
We had the same problem here in San Pedro a few years back. A minister gave permission to the this style of fishing operation, except this company was out of Florida. its a very destructive technique. The 'Roach Motel' style of trap catches everything.
This kinda of operation is easy to shut down and we put them out of business in one day. No committees, No appeals, just an bunch of angry dive masters with sharp knives.
The marker buoy rope ,if cut disallows the fishing vessel to retrieve/relocate the trap.
Its important if disabling the trap in this way that it be dismantled completely or it continues to kill marine life.
A small group of 10 divemasters can disable 50 or 60 in a good mornings work and financially ruin the fishing company.
or we could just all whine on the internet to ministers that don't give a damn.
Elroy, sharpen your knife bro.

White Sands Dive Shop
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,160
Elbert the Terrorist!!!!! Good man. Never heard that story before.

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5
I've known Eloy for many years I hope he gets your message

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395

Matura Shepherd says GOB vague about Jamaican fishermen

There is also controversy over the PG Fishing Company, which has a joint venture with the Rio Grande Cooperative of Punta Gorda. Also of Jamaican origin, its boats arrived over the weekend intending to conduct fishing operations in southern Belize. The Fisheries and Environment Departments say that PG Fishing does not yet have a license and the community held a meeting on Wednesday opposing the venture. Matura-Shepherd says that G.O.B. has been vague but at least for now, operations have been suspended.

Audrey Matura Sheppard, Vice-President, Oceana Belize
"There was a representative from government but that wasn't from the ministerial level, it was a representative from the Ministry of Fisheries and there is so little they can give in terms of commitment. So in a nutshell we would say that what they said is fairly vague as to what the position of the government is, but the positive side is that they are not saying move forward and just do whatever you want. There seems to be a suspension on at least the Punta Gorda fishing agreement as we understand it."

Jose Sanchez
"The argument can be brought up that the Caribbean Single Market Economy is one reason why they should be allowed. What's your viewpoint on that?"

Audrey Matura Shepherd
"When we joined CSME, it isn't saying that we are opening Belize wantonly to anybody and everything; it still has to be within a framework. So while, our position is not that there cannot be any kind of agreement between Rio Grande and a Jamaican company, it has to be one that does comply with our local legislation and our local legislation really puts the purview of giving licenses into the hands of government and government is saying that we haven't given licenses to any Jamaican vessels to be operating in our waters. Also we need to look at the fact that one way government can address foreign vessels wanting to come and fish in our waters is to be clear as to which areas are our protected areas. You can declare other areas as protected areas simply because we don't want them to come and just reap everything that Belizeans have worked so hard to preserve and the only reason we still have some amount of fishes in our waters is because of the amount of sacrifices our Belizeans, especially our fishermen, have made."

Jose Sanchez
"What all type of fishing? Does it include trawlers or just nets?"

Audrey Matura Shepherd
"We're not clear but we're hoping it doesn't include trawling because right now we only have two trawlers in the country and they are very limited as to the areas they can trawl but we don't have the level of enforcement that we need. When you give access to anybody-locals or foreigners-to your waters, you need to have the ability to enforce."

Channel 5

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,536
December 21, 2009

Last week it was announced that the fishermen and the vessels that arrived in Belize about two weeks ago would be returning to Jamaica. Love News understands that on Saturday the big vessel along with nine Jamaican fishermen left Punta Gorda leaving behind four small vessels and four fishermen. The 13 fishermen and five vessels were here to fulfill the terms of an agreement between the Rio Grande Fisherman Co-operative Society Limited and a Jamaican owned fishing company called P.G Fisheries Company Limited. According to members of Rio Grande the fishermen were here to provide fishermen in southern Belize with equipment and technical support for deep sea fishing which would open up opportunities for export. Earlier today Punta Gorda Correspondent Paul Mahung spoke with Armando Ramirez, Vice Chairman of Rio Grande Fishermen's Cooperative.

Paul Mahung, Reporter

Mr. Reyes do you see any possibility of the guys returning sometime in the future to take up what was agreed upon between the Rio Grande Fishermen C0-0perative and the Jamaican Fishing Company?

Armando Ramirez; Vice Chairman, Rio Grande Fishermen's Cooperative

"Personally I have not given up yet. This is a project; this is a joint venture agreement that if well put together is clear and transparent and anyone with objective and common sense will be able to see the benefits. I am no where near giving up on this important opportunity for Toledo. Things are not too good in Toledo when it comes to job opportunities for the citizens. I am in no way giving up on this project so I believe we will still move on and I believe that at the end of the day people will see the real truth and understand it after we do our ground work. I strongly believe that this project will definitely go through."

Paul Mahung, Reporter

I just came from the Rio Grande Fishermen Cooperative Building on Front Street by the sea front and I noticed a sign calling a meeting. What is the involvement Toledo Development Cooperation at this time?

Armando Ramirez; Vice Chairman, Rio Grande Fishermen's Cooperative

"It is Rio Grande who are calling the meeting but they helped us with some paper work and that type of thing. They also helped to organize a series of meetings."

Paul Mahung, Reporter

Did the meeting take place and could you give us a little outcome of the meeting?

Armando Ramirez; Vice Chairman, Rio Grande Fishermen's Cooperative

"Our meeting took place but the weather here has been pretty bad so the turn out that we were expected from some of the fisher folks was affected by the weather. We went through with our meeting and we had an excellent time; it was successful."

Ramirez says that those who attended today's meeting had a charge of heart when the details of the joint venture agreement were explained to them.

Live and let live
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,536
Jamaican Fishermen Re-loaded

In December, there was a national uproar when Jamaican Fishermen came to Belize in fishing boats. It was a partnership with the Rio Grande Fishing Co-Op in Punta Gorda, but nobody wanted to hear that. All anyone knew is that Toledo's already stressed fish-stocks were about to come under even greater pressure.

Well, the boats are gone, but the Jamaicans are still here. We found out what they've been up to when our Codie Norales went to Punta Gorda for a town meeting today.

Jules Vasquez Reporting In December when these Jamaican fishing boats arrived in Belize there was a huge uproar. The feeling was that the Jamaican fishermen were here to clean out Belize's waters.

Belizean Fisherman

"My concern is about these fishermen and the boat from Jamaica coming into the waters of Belize for fishing. I don't think we need any more fishermen. We have more than enough right here in Belize."

But the sentiment has either changed or been muted. Today fishermen gathered at the Punta Gorda Civic Center to endorse the PG Fisheries Company, which is an effort of those same Jamaican Fishermen.

The catch now is they don't want to fish. They want to process and export fish.

[Linked Image] Derek Osbourne, PG Fisheries Company

"As a company, we will not be fishing. We are not interested in fishing. The boats went back to Jamaica. All we are interested in right now is to buy fish and export."

And now, these Jamaicans have started their own company because the joint venture with PG's Rio Grande Co-Op has been scrapped because of the flap about these boats.

Derek Osbourne, PG Fisheries Company

"Environmentalists along with the government and a lot of people said get out of here, so the boat went, the boat was the joint so the joint popped so the venture left. So right now we have an agreement. We will work alongside with Rio Grande. We will process their fishery product because, guess what, right now we are helping in the Sea Cucumber. We are storing and we are benefitting right now from that plant."

[Linked Image] That plant is this place, it's fully outfitted for fish processing and Osbourne said they spent half a million dollars to build it.

Derek Osbourne, PG Fisheries Company

"Over 50 person have applied for jobs and we have trained them in food safety and right now they are waiting to start work but we are unable to do that because we are not allowed an export license permit."

And that employment tie in is what has brought the PG Mayor Floyd Lino wholeheartedly on board.

[Linked Image] Floyd Lino, Mayor of Punta Gorda Town

"So I am here today to support of the cooperative and for this agreement to move forward, for the investment to be granted their export license, because I am certain that these gentlemen are law abiding citizens and the jobs that we so are dire in need of in Punta Gorda and Toledo District as an extension. This is one step towards getting some of those jobs. We are forging this relationship to ensure that this facility, this factory remains in Punta Gorda. I do not see why we are putting so many red tapes of precautions to slow down the development that is coming to this district. I believe that the time has come where if we are going to develop in a sustainable manner we need to balance the environmental development with the economic development of our people because fish is living and they are getting fat but people are starving."

And that sentiment of local concerns over expatriate environmentalists is certainly being played up by the fisheries company. We'll have more on it as we present Part II of this story in tomorrow night's newscast, when we'll tell you what the Jamaicans really want, which is an export license. And why they haven't gotten it so far.

Live and let live
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