Recreational fishing or Sport fishing has become big business in many countries, and, Belize with its abundant marine life is now part of that group.

To get a better understanding of the overall impact of the tourist activity and gauge the ability to sustain it, the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, along with the Fisheries department are hosting a series of forums nationwide.

One of those forums was held earlier this week at the Coastal Zone Management's conference room in Belize City, and a highlight of the discussion was the presentation of a research on Recreational Sport fishing in Belize conducted by Addiel Ubandes Perez, a Belizean student pursuing a Master of Science degree at ECOSUR, a Mexican university.

Perez says the country currently generates an estimated 60 million dollars in revenue from the activity, but has the potential of doubling that figure.

Addiel Ubandes Perez, student
"Belize has a large potential particularly because it has three very important species; bonefish, tarpon and permit and they can be caught in one single day and that is how many countries around the world - United States, Canada, Europe knows it as the "grand slam" capturing three species in one single day and Belize has that potential and that is what makes Belize very popular when it comes to recreational sport fishing."

"The species that I mention, the permit, tarpon and the bonefish you can capture but you must release back the fish. Now other species like the snappers you capture and you can personally consume that fish."

Jim McFadzean
"Has your research been able to reveal what's the biggest threat to the industry when we talk about sports and recreational fishing?"

Addiel Ubandes Perez, student
"The research yes, those highlight the two biggest impact which is natural impacts and human impacts. When it comes to the natural impacts there is the global warming that is occurring affecting hurricanes that are destructing the habitat of this species. When it comes to the human impact there is always the use of gears that are not really targeting those species but they are being used and those species are being captured in those nets. We have to consider that here we have the fishing sector and the tourism sector that must come together and be able to coordinate some activities that would be able to minimize the impacts so that this resource can be used forever."

Similar forums were held in Caye Caulker and last night in Placencia.

Channel 7