Oceana gifts a trawler to CZMAI
A former trawling vessel, worth over four hundred thousand dollars, was today signed over to the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) for just one dollar. The vessel is one of two that were bought over by OCEANA in February, 2011 after legislation was passed to ban trawling in Belize. OCEANA and government negotiated the buyout to avoid causing major losses to the Northern Fishermen's Cooperative and the vessel handed over today will now be refitted for use in research as well as education. News Five was on hand today, for the signing of the contract which was drafted by Young's Law Firm and penned by OCEANA's local Vice President Audrey Matura-Shepherd as well as CZMAI C.E.O. Vincent Gillett and Director Collin Gillett.
Audrey Matura Shepherd, Vice President, OCEANA Belize
"It has been in the making for a while that after OCEANA bought over the trawlers which would have been a year now, almost a year since April of last year, we always wanted to know what we would do with it because we know they are no longer useful as a commercial vessel, at least not for trawling. And of course we would not put it back into anything that we would consider in our campaigns to be destructive to the eco-system. And so we had requested that different NGO's or entities send in proposals to say if they would be able to use it and how they would be able to use it. We got several proposals and one of them we got was from the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute. After the real owners-the persons who actually put in the money to buy the trawlers-saw the proposal, they accepted that proposal and with that they said okay, let us donate it to Coastal Zone. Of course, it was one point to just say we would donate it to them and it wa to reach another point that we have the agreements because what you will be seeing here today is the signing of a contract in which they’re actually paying a dollar for it and the reason we've done it as a contract is so that the terms of the agreement is a binding term."
Vincent Gillett, C.E.O., CZMAI
"This is something that we had long dreamt about and as you know in Belize we have a vast expanse of sea area that we have not always been privy to do serious research in. this vessel is going to provide us with that opportunity. But it is not only research and monitoring that we are going to be involved in; we're certainly going to take advantage of having the vessel to inform and educate our people so I imagine that we will be visiting all the schools and having discussions with them now and in the future, encourage them to work with us and encourage them to come along in various instances to take the school students out to sea and see what we're all talking about because it's important, we feel, to build that particular base, to carry on the work that we're doing in terms of managing our resources."
The CZMAI will form a committee to organize educational activities with various schools. According to Matura-Shepherd, a proposal was submitted by the Conscious Youth Development Program for the second trawler, but there are still some kinks to be ironed out.