A group of Belizeans from Southern Belize completed a five day exchange and educational visit at the weekend to two fishing communities in Mexico.

Paul Mahung reporting...
“The group of 11 included fishers, tour guides of Port Honduras and Glovers Reef Marine Reserves, Fisheries Department and Staff representatives of the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment- TIDE. The visit and working experiences of the group were centered in two Mexican locations of Banco Chinchorro and Punta Allen Biosphere reserves in Quintana Roo, Mexico. During the exchange visit the group was led by TIDE’s Executive Director Celia Mahung.

Celia Mahung – Executive Director, TIDE
“The objective of the five day exchange was to expose participants to sustainable fishing practices used in both communities, effective management of reserve and economic alternatives. With the recent implementation of managed access in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Glovers reef Marine Reserve it is essential to expose fishers to management of sustainable fishing practices and supplemental livelihoods. Fishers from Punta Gorda, Punta Negra and Dangriga had an opportunity to go lobster fishing with Mexican fishers and practise lobster fishing methods. They interacted directly with fishers and reserve managers to learn of the process that led them to the success they enjoy today. Leaders of the Cooperatives in Punta Allen emphasized the need for fishers to respect each other, respect decisions taken by elected leaders of the Cooperatives and the need to follow regulations set by Cooperatives.”

Members of the group returned home with much admiration of sustainable lobster fishing methods observed that can be adapted to their respective fishing communities and livelihood practices in Belize. They were also impressed with the exceptional work of fishing cooperatives in the locations visited and efforts of the Mexican fishers that have led to improved livelihood of their fishing families in Banco Chinchorro and Punta Allen. What was additionally observed was the very good working relationships between the local Mexican fishers and tour guides which also contributes to securing their livelihood throughout the year. TIDE’s Executive Director Celia Mahung expressed gratitude to the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute GCFI for funding the exchange visit to Mexico and the participants from Belize for their interest and efforts as well as to the Belize Fisheries Department for their ongoing support.