Fishing is one of our smaller but growing industries and plans are in the works for its development. Ideas on how to move the industry forward were shared and discussed today at the first National Fisheries Forum, which had representation from related NGOs and regulatory bodies, cooperatives, and the fishermen from across the country. The event was organized by the Fisheries Department to provide an opportunity for direct discussion with the stakeholders on the plans to formalize certain aspects of the industry. According to Beverly Wade, the Fisheries Administrator, some of the most important items on today’s agenda were control measures and the health of the lobster and conch fisheries.

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator

Beverly Wade

“The main objective of today’s forum is to provide an opportunity for us as government, who are really the regulatory body, to interact and have an open discussion with the stakeholders of the fishing industry as it relates to future development and management of this industry. It’s an opportunity for us to present to our stakeholders what’s the current status if the industry, to present to them some of the new approaches that we would want to now apply to the management of our resources and to also have a discussion of some of the areas that we see as potential areas for future development in the industry.”

Delahnie Bain

“What are some of those key areas that will be up for discussion?”

Beverly Wade

“Well, we will definitely be looking at our lobster and conch fishery which, as mentioned this morning, are our two main commodities and we want to look at what their status is in terms of the health of those natural populations in Belize and to look at what we’re recommending in terms of management. As minister mentioned this morning in his speech, we still have an open access fishery in Belize and it is something that is not the most sustainable thing to have in a fishery. And so we want to have this discussion now of how we look at the control of entry into this fishery and some of the presentations that will be done this morning is geared towards that with the new catch shares approach that we want to apply that’s geared at now limiting entry into the fishery but at the same time give more privileges and give more say, give more ownership to the actual fishers who are currently fishing those resources.”

The national forum was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and is expected to become an annual event.

Channel 5