The debate to ban or allow the continued use of gillnets in Belize’s water continues tonight. The government is collecting information from the public as it relates to the effects of gillnets. The Placencia Sport Fishing Association is weighing in on the matter. Members of the association met with the media on the peninsula today where they shared their discontent with the continued use of gillnets which they described as destructive. Those who are supporting a phase-out ban of gillnets say that it is a threat to the environment and economy. According to data collected by the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, the sport fishing industry of Belize is estimated to contribute over one hundred and ten million dollars to the economy, but members of the association say that gillnets are putting the entire industry at risk.
Eworth Garbutt, President, Placencia Sport Fishing Association
“When we talk about gillnets is should always be something, ‘boy do you remember when we used to set net.’ The point I am giving you, the reason I made the switch back in ninety-eight, we see the depletion. It bugs me when you go back but I see a lot of time when they talk about the commercial fisherman and their livelihood being threatened. And I am with them one hundred percent hence the reason we are saying ban the gillnets. Somehow there is a misconnection so I will say it again, their livelihoods is being threatened. So by it being threatened, me Eworth Garbutt from Punta Negra put down the gillnet and went to do something else because it is not only threatening them. It is hurting the geese which is laying the golden.”
Grayson Sierra, Member, Placencia Sport Fishing Association
“Gillnets are killing the geese that’s laying the golden egg. The fly fishing industry in Belize makes close to a hundred million dollars a year, a little bit more than commercial and we are talking about commercial in the grander scale, not just gillnets. Gillnets is just a small fraction of the commercial industry. It is just common sense. Why do we still have gillnets in our country when it is just a small amount of people who are using it. I am just guessing but I would say that at least seventy percent of those fish go back across the border. So they buy the nets over there, they take our fish and take it back there. So what is in it for Belize than just purchasing your little license which is just about twenty five dollars. That’s all Belize is getting for the economy. I think it is high time. I am surprise that we still have it in our waters.”