Paul Mahung reporting…

“The First Festival of the Sea was hosted in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. The
event was planned by TRIGOH –the Tri-national Alliance for the Gulf of
Honduras comprising countries of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras in
collaboration with funding agencies – CISP (CHIS)- (International Committee
for the Development of Peoples, Oak Foundation, MAREA project, MarFund and
the Alliance de Derecho Ambiental y Agua (ADAA). The purpose of the
festival was to promote the ecological, cultural and economic value of the
Gulf of Honduras. Forums during the Festival focused on marine protected
areas, endangered species, fishing, sustainable tourism and Human Rights
related to the use of the sea. The session that had the biggest
participation was the fishing forum where 150 environmental leaders,
fishing authorities and fishers from the Gulf of Honduras shared fishing
regulations of each country and discussed common issues and possible
solutions. A highlight of the discussions was the issue of the fishing of
Manjua (better known as sprat) – fished for commercial purposes mostly in
Honduras and Guatemala. A major problem fishers said, is when the Manjua
is fished, the by-catch of juvenile commercial species is very high and
this has a dramatic impact on the stock of commercial species that fishers
depend on to make a living thus fishers advocated for regulations on the
fishing of the Manjua. The need to standardize fishing seasons and
regulations across the gulf was also discussed and the need was expressed
to have a coordinating entity that would work closely with authorities and
stakeholders of the three countries to accomplish this goal. Additionally,
the need to supplement livelihoods of fishers who no longer depend solely
on fishing for a living was emphasized. The Festival of Sea also
showcased locally produced paintings and murals depicting marine life,
music by various Guatemalan Artists and Bands including PG Vibes and
Culture Boys Band of Toledo, displays by various Environmental NGO’s and
Community based organizations, cultural food and refreshments. President
of TRIGOH, Celia Mahung commented that it was interesting to see
participants from Guatemala, Honduras and Belize interact at the festival
to actively discuss common issues and possible solutions among themselves.
Mahung thanked all NGO’s who participated and all organizations who donated
to make the festival a grand success and mentioned that it is the intention
of TRIGOH that each member country would get the opportunity to host the
festival annually on a rotational basis. The delegation of 35 persons from
Belize at the Festival of the Sea included Fishers from Southern Belize,
representatives of the Belize Fisheries Department, Ministry of Tourism,
the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, TIDE, Southern
Environmental Association, (SEA) Belize Institute for Environmental Law
(BELPO) and Placentia Citizens for Sustainable Development among others.”

Story at