MoU signed between MFFESD and the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries

In December 2019, Cabinet approved measures from the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development (MFFESD) to control the use of gill nets in Belize’s maritime waters. Based on input from fishermen, concerned citizens, economists and marine experts, these measures were intended to control the negative impacts of gill nets while protecting the income rights of gill net fishers.

In line with Cabinet’s decision, the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries, a registered local non-government organization representing Belize’s commercial fishermen, sports fishers, game fishers and conservation organizations, and who are also funding the livelihoods transition programme.

This MoU reiterates the conditions and timelines for a successful phase-out and livelihoods transition, that would conclude in a ban to be instituted throughout Belize’s maritime waters by March 31, 2022, at the latest or earlier when the livelihoods transition of fishers is successfully attained. It also sets the framework to determine the eligibility of gill net fishers for the livelihoods transition programme, which includes those gill net fishers licensed in 2018 who presently meet the legal requirements as stated in Statutory Instrument 81 of 2019. These legal requirements state that only Belizean citizens, and who have been resident in Belize for the past six months, and who sell their fisheries products only in Belize, will be eligible for the livelihoods transition programme. A vetting committee will be established to determine this eligibility.

The Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries has raised BZ$1.5 million dollars for transitioning gill net fishers to more sustainable livelihoods, and parameters have been established under the MoU for determining when the transition process is successfully complete. These measures are intended to ensure that Belize's fisheries will be sustainably managed for the benefit of Belizean fishermen. The end goal is to ensure the sustainability of Belizean fishing jobs and enhancement of Belize's food security.

Eligible gill net fishers are asked to contact the Coalition’s office at 670-3206 to set up an appointment to discuss their transition.

The members of the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries include the following organizations:
Belize Tourism Industry Association
Belize Game Fish Association
National Sports Fishing Association
Belize Federation of Fishers
Turneffe Atoll Trust
Yellowdog Conservation and Community Foundation
MAR Alliance