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Marty Offline OP
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(Embargoed to Wed Dec 8)
Wed December 8, 2010
Belize City, Belize

All forms of trawling in Belize has been banned in the country’s waters including its EEZ when Minister responsible for Fisheries Rene Montero today signed the Statutory Instrument effecting this legislative change.

The ban which is effective January 1, 2011 is a historic decision of Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration that has also passed legislation to protect parrot fish, regulate sport fishing and control the issuing of fishing license.

The call to ban bottom trawling had been made some years ago but lacked the political will as the government was faced with the reality of what to do with the existing trawlers owned and operated by the Northern Fishermen Cooperative Association (NFC). Oceana in Belize in collaborating with the government assisted in resolving this concern by negotiating the buy-out of the two shrimp-trawlers.

After discussions with the fishers directly affected by the proposed ban, Oceana was able to secure the full support of the Belize Fishermen Association which has a membership of four cooperative including the NFC. In the letter, signed by the Chairman Allan Bevans Green, Vice Chairman, Carlton Young and Secretary Ovel Leonardo Sr. the BFCA expressed support for the buyout of the trawlers. “By our support of the sale of the two trawlers to Oceana, the BFCA also agrees to support Oceana in its Endeavour to ban all trawling permanently within the waters of Belize,” concluded the letter.
Belize has become one of only three countries in the world to institute a complete and permanent ban on trawling in all its waters. Large areas in the US, Indonesia, Phillipines and other Pacific islands are closed to trawling, though not the entire country. Venezuela and Palau, like Belize banned trawling completely.

Vice President for Oceana in Belize, Audrey Matura-Shepherd says that this is a historic milestone in the life of the Belizean fishers and the environmental community because “it is indicative of the partnership that could be forged for the betterment of the people and country of Belize”. “We thank the government for its bold decision and look forward to being able to work with any administration on marine issues for the development of Belize,” she added.

This move is critical because it comes at a time when UNESCO is asking the Government to report on what corrective measures it has taken to remove the existing threats to the Belize Barrier Reef System.


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Marty Offline OP
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Belize Banishes Destructive Trawling

By Ted Danson for the Huffington Post

One of the world's smallest nations has made a monumental decision for the oceans. As of today, Belize is one of the first countries in the world to institute a complete and permanent ban on trawling in all of its waters.

Bottom trawling is one of the most destructive fishing methods in existence. Bottom trawlers are equipped with massive, weighted nets that effectively clear-cut the ocean floor, destroying sensitive coral communities and anything else in their path.

Meanwhile, shrimp trawls -- which were operating in Belize until now -- operate in midwater, so they pose a different threat. They catch more untargeted species, or bycatch, than almost any other kind of fishing gear. Thousands of sea turtles, marine mammals and untargeted fish are caught in shrimp trawlers around the world every year.

The ban is only logical when you consider the phenomenal marine resources that Belize has to offer. Namely, the Belize Barrier Reef, which is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest coral reef system in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. With three of the Western Hemisphere's four offshore atolls, including the famous Blue Hole, Belize is a destination for divers and snorkelers around the world.

The ban, which goes into effect December 31st, was made by Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow's administration after UNESCO threatened to strip the Belize Barrier Reef System of its World Heritage Site status.

The recently released 2010 Report Card of the Mesoamerican Reef revealed that around 70% of the reef is in poor or critical condition, with only 8 percent in good condition. The amount of reef that's now in critical condition leapt from 6 percent in 2008 to 30 percent as a result of overfishing, coastal development and climate change. Belize's reef is under great pressure, and it's a relief to see that the government is taking steps to protect its vital marine resources.

Oceana was a critical part of this decision, collaborating with the government in negotiating a buy-out of the shrimp trawlers. We have been working for years to put a stop to trawling around the world, and we have protected hundreds of thousands of square miles from trawling using our precautionary approach.

Kudos to Belize, and here's hoping that more countries follow its lead to reduce their destructive fishing footprint.

Ted Danson is a member of Oceana's board of directors.

Joined: Oct 2003
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Yeah, sounds great, but there were only two trawlers in Belize and neither worked, but still a good thing.

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Marty Offline OP
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details details... :>

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Trawling Banned In Belize

Belize became only the third country in the world, to completely ban bottom trawling after Minister of Fisheries, Rene Montero signed the statutory instrument into law at a press conference held today at the Chamber of Commerce conference room.

The signing was witnessed by a group of top level government officials, the former OAS Secretary General and President of Columbia, Cesar Gaviria, executives of OCEANA, the international organization committed to the protection of the World's oceans and its star founding member, American actor Ted Danson.

So important and significant is this new law that praises and congratulatory messages to the Government of Belize streamed in both locally and internationally, like this one from American actor and activist, Ted Danson.

Ted Danson, Actor - OCEANA Board Member
"This is huge step you've taken not only to yourself but for the whole world really because your reefs end up feeding a vast portion for the rest of the world, so thank you so much and what a pleasure to be here in your beautiful country."

Cesar Gaviria, Ex-President of Colombia
"I want to express to all the people of Belize that we are very thankful for this speedy decision, we all know difficult it is to take decision in government, how slowly is the process, how difficult, there is always opposition problems to solve and you have been very decisive due to the decision when you were convince and you use a roll of red tape or waiting or thinking or anything, you just took the decision and we are really all please and even surprise that we were able to get this done so soon. We will now keep working with you."

Hon. Rene Montero
"I want to thank and give special recognition to Mrs. Audrey Matura Shepherd, the Vice President of OCEANA for making this event possible. It is through her negotiation skills and her persistency that contributed to this historic signing of the banning of bottom trawlers in Belize, which is now a page in the history of Belize. I want to conclude by saying that as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries I will do all that is humanly possible to protect and preserve our marine resources by ensuring that we comply with our strategic plan which encompasses a responsible and sustainable management."

The new law bans all forms of trawling in Belize waters including its Exclusive Economic Zone. Bottom trawling uses heavily weighted nets that are dragged across the ocean floor, and in the process drags everything in their path, including seagrasses, coral reefs and rock gardens where fish hide from predators. And while the new law to ban bottom trawling was being celebrated today as a first step, the ultimate goal of environmentally conscious groups such as Oceana, is a total ban on offshore drilling in Belize waters.

Audrey Matura Shepherd, VP - OCEANA Belize
"We are very practical from the standpoint of OCEANA I am speaking now that governments cannot easily make decisions, however we hope to come with the good reasons why they should make the decisions, therefore 2011 is going to be a dynamic year for us because we are going to do science conference. I think we need the Prime Minister, his ministers and members of Cabinet to understand what is out there, what is the value. we also need to review the contracts, we are going to look at it with a keep legal eye, that is something we are in the process doing as well and we will start with a friendly conversation with the government so far we cannot complain because at least we are having the meetings we are asking for, but that is just a step."

Andrew Sharpless, CEO OCEANA
"We will indeed present this to the rest of the world and we are already today in our offices around the world taking steps to take the videotape you saw here to the press around the world and indeed make Belize's principle stand here practical stand a new message for the rest of the world and we want people around the world to know that this is now a place that has taken a substantial step towards making sure that its ocean will be full of fish and an important leader in the world."

The only other two countries that have placed a total ban on bottom trawling are Venezuela and Palau.

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Joined: Oct 2001
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It's a bit of very good news.

Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,675
Very positive expression of concern.

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