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#501134 - 02/16/15 03:04 PM Death of hammerhead shark shows gillnet ban need  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,653
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Scalloped hammerhead drowns in Hopkins fisherman’s gillnet

The death of a rarely seen Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) in the waters off Hopkins village after it became entangled in a gillnet, highlights the need to transition away from this destructive fishing gear. According to Oceana Belize’s investigations into the incident, the approximately 8’ Hammerhead swam into a gill net placed in the shallow waters on the north end of the village. By the time the fisherman pulled up his net on Sunday, February 15th, the shark had already drowned.

Once a common sight in Belizean waters, the Scalloped Hammerhead is today classified as a species endangered with extinction. Globally, it is estimated that in the last 30 years, the population of scalloped hammerhead sharks have declined by more than 95%. Known as “walls of death”, destructive gear such as gillnets and activities such as finning contribute to this staggering reality faced by shark species like the Scalloped Hammerhead.

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in every ocean and as such play a crucial role in the maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems. “Sharks have been swimming in the sea for more than 400 years,” says Oceana Belize’s Vice President Janelle Chanona. “It is truly saddening that in our generation alone, so many of these creatures could be wiped out forever.”

Oceana Belize commends the call made by commercial fishermen more than 18 years ago for taking a stand on this issue by asking for a legal transition away from gillnets. Sports fishermen also support the ban given the regional experience of collapse of economically important fish stocks such as tarpon, bonefish, snook and permit as a result of gillnets. According to local sports fishermen, every year, sports fishing contributes more than 100 million dollars to the Belizean economy and employs more than two thousand Belizeans. “From a sustainable management angle and an economic standpoint, gillnets have no place in Belizean waters. A ban of this gear is an important step towards responsible fishing methods.”

Gillnets are still classified as legal fishing gear in Belize; all nets must be registered. However, it remains unclear how many Belizeans are strictly gillnet fishermen. It is also clear that a lack of monitoring and enforcement of the regulations governing use of gillnets in Belizean waters by both legal and illegal gillnet fishermen pose serious threat to fish stocks.

Across the world, gill nets are being replaced by “clean” alternative fishing gear because of the severe negative impact nets have on the environment especially as it relates to the bycatch of charismatic species such as dolphins, turtles and even manatees.

OCEANA


#501523 - 02/25/15 02:02 PM Re: Death of hammerhead shark shows gillnet ban need [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,653
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Coast Guard confiscate gill net on Lighthouse Reef Atoll

On Saturday, February 21st the Belize Coast Guard, with the assistance of the Belize Audubon Society, confiscated a gill net illegally placed off of Hat Caye in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The netting caused the death of many fish, including a reef shark and the protected bonefish. The Coast Guard not only removed and confiscated the net, but they also apprehended the fishermen involved in the situation.

While the use of gill nets is not banned in Belize, the Belize Fisheries Department requires all nets, whether used for profit or nonprofit, to be registered before being placed in the water. This policy was enacted on July 1, 2013 to ensure the sustainable management of commercial fisheries, as well as protection of various species of fish. The regulation was set up in accordance with the Statutory Instrument No. 78 of the Belize Fisheries Act.

A registered gill net must not exceed 300 meters in open waters or 200 meters in freshwater bodies. The use of gill nets is prohibited along the shorelines of Monkey River or Placencia. Gill nets may not be set within a radius of one mile of a bridge or half a mile from the out-fall of a tributary, and must not be used in the New River Lagoon or its tributaries. Use of gill net is not allowed on Marine Reserves or Protected Areas. All fishermen using gill nets are urged to register their nets to avoid prosecution. A valid boat license and fisherman’s license is also required for registering a gill net. The certificate of registration for gill nets is valid for one year, after which it must be renewed.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun



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