The Belize Network of N.G.O.s is calling for the passage of a fisheries bill to put in place mechanisms to protect the industry and fisher folks. We asked the Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade what has been the hold up. She says there are a number of issues that have caused the delay for the new fisheries bill to be enacted. Wade says she also champions the call for this new bill and says that they have been informed that it will be tabled at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.
Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator
“We are actually the champions of that bill, with our partners. I could understand the advocacy from our partners because we very much need that bill to come into place to ensure that we have a modernized and robust regulatory framework to adequately ensure sustainable small scale fisheries and development in Belize. I think really the bill has suffered from a number of unfortunate delays. A lot of the delays have really been administrative changes in ministerial portfolios and each time these things happen, there is a new system of going back. It has also suffered from, because it has been delayed for so long, you tend to now have to go back and reengage stakeholders in areas that you had already done. Those are some of the unfortunate things that happen when you leave something for so long. Being optimistic now is that we have now—as far as I know, done all the consultation and we are now being told that the bill will be tabled at the next House sitting. So the Fisheries Department along with the stakeholders is looking forward to that tabling at next House sitting.”
The Delayed Fisheries Bill – What Is In It?
So, why are conservationists and their partners clamouring for the bill to be passed? Well, they say that when passed and enacted, it means that there will be stronger enforcement of fisheries regulations and increased promotion of sustainable fisheries management, among other pieces of legislation. Today, Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade shared more about some of the details of the bill and what it means for the protection and management of our natural resources.
Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator
“The main thing is that we have a national strategy for sustainable small scale fisheries in Belize and one of the biggest attributes to that bill is now ensuring the long term tenure and livelihoods for smalls scale fishers in Belize. So, what the bill calls for now is an element such as a management plan for each fishery you would have had established in Belize to ensure that there is the level of participation and the level of consideration for the traditional small scale fishers that have engaged in the exploitation of those resources for those resources for their livelihoods over generations. The other thing the bill does is that it formalizes the input of stakeholders into the decision making process through a legislated fisheries advisory council which now allows various stakeholders, state and non state stakeholders to now have a say in how you move forward in management policy and development of the bill. The other thing that the bill does is that it takes a holistic approach to fisheries management and it really looks at the entire ecosystem based approached which takes into consideration from the conservation to social aspects of fishers; what are those considerations and how do we now ensure that they are incorporated and integrated into the way forward with fisheries management in Belize. And finally, what the bill has done is that it has now created the framework to encourage more responsibility and stewardship from the users of the resource and to also strengthen the areas with regards to enforcement to ensure that what is in the bill are applications that serve as proper deterrents to illegal fishing.”