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Marty Offline OP
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Nominations for Fisher of the Year Award 2022 Open

Nominations are now open for the 8th Annual Fisher of the Year Award 2022, which will be announced during an official ceremony marking Caribbean Fisherfolk Day on June 29, 2022. On this day, two (2) individuals, who have meaningfully contributed to the fishing industry in Belize, will be recognized, nationally, as Outstanding Fishers, and another as the Fisher of the Year 2022.

This event is one of several activities taking place to celebrate Fisherfolk Month, under the theme: "Collective Action for a Safe and Resilient Belizean Fisheries." Members of the Fisherfolk Month Planning Committee include the Belize Fisheries Department; Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM); Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organizations (CNFO); and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The Committee invites anyone, who knows of an outstanding fisher, to submit complete nomination forms explaining why we should recognize your nominee as the Outstanding Fisher of the Year 2022.

Submissions MUST include:

- Nominator's name and contact information
- The fisher's name and your relationship to him/her
- Number of years nominee has been fishing
- Whether he/she belongs to a cooperative and/or association; and the name of the Cooperative or Association
- A copy of the nominee's fisher-folk license.
- And a 250-word essay explaining how the fisher is involved in fisheries management, sustainable fishing practices, and how he or she has shown resilience in this sector by remaining an active fisher.

Nomination forms are available, by request from, and, after completion, should be sent to the Belize Fisheries Department on Princess Margaret Drive, by emailing [email protected]; or Wildlife Conservation Society, by emailing [email protected]. Submission deadline is Monday June 20, 2022.

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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A Fisher Woman Is The Fisher Of The Year

And switching now to some news that isn't crime or politics, Belize has named its newest fisher of the year.

She's Dangriga's own Vonetta Dawson and she was awarded the prize this morning at a ceremony hosted at the UWI Open Campus.

Cherisse Halsall attended and brought back the following story:

Dangriga resident Vonetta Dawson was named fisher of the year this morning in a ceremony hosted by the Nature Conservancy, the Ministry of the Blue Economy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

And moments after the win, she told news cameras why the title of fisherwoman is such an integral part of her identity.

Vonetta Dawson, Fisher of The Year
"It's my life, I love fishing, I take care of my family with fishing, and everything it's fishing is my life I won't give up on fishing I will die on the sea. My main job is deep sea fishing but lobster season is open so I will be doing the lobster."

"From a baby my dad was a fisher, Samuel Dawson, most people know him as SAMY he was one of Belize's famous fly fishers also, but he passed, and being on the island with my dad I fell in love. So I continued and fishing was in my family from all around so I enjoyed it."

"And the thing about being a woman in fishing, if you aren't fishing with your spouse, or your dad, or your uncle it's hard to get on another boat and go fish because they look at us as woman and don't really believe that we dive, we manned an engine, we hauled the nets but we do exactly the same stuff as the guys do."

Fisherwomen also face the same natural challenges, and Vonetta says she's no stranger to the hardships of the trade including riding out a storm on the sea.

Vonetta Dawson, Fisher of The Year
"The worst storm I ever faced? You watch that movie The Perfect Storm, something like that, that was the worst one that I ever faced thinking I wouldn't make it home so I got my gas tank and I tied my waist and everything but thanks to that man up there we made it and that was like in the Caribbean sea, across and we had a storm just pop and we couldn't do anything but try stand it and get home safe."

And while Vonetta took up her father's chosen trade we asked her if any of her kids are poised to do the same.

Vonetta Dawson, Fisher of The Year
"My sons, my sons love fishing, my daughter goes along sometimes but she says she's more of a tourist than fishing and diving and stuff but both my sons. I have one grandson and he loves the water because we have this trend and I have a niece, when they're three months old I go and get them and say let's see if you will be a fisher and i'll take them out to the sea for the day only on the water not on land and see if they will be okay with it so they pass so far."

We also asked Dawson about the recent controversy surrounding the size of lobster tails, she says she's all for sustainable fishing but felt that in this instance the NGO's hadn't been listening to fishers.

Channel 7

2022 Fisher of the Year: Vonetta Dawson

The 2022 Fisher of the Year hails from Dangriga. She is Vonetta Dawson. As a child growing up on Tobacco Caye, Dawson made it a point to watch her father fish. But, being relegated to the sideline in fishing was never her vision. She wanted to get involved. So, her father taught her the skill, as well as the trade. Dawson has dedicated all of her adult life to fishing. The income she generates from that livelihood provides for her and her children. Additionally, she gets to be out at sea daily doing what she loves most. Dawson was recognized by the Wildlife Conservation Society at an award ceremony in Belize City. News Five's Paul Lopez reports.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Our recipient of the 2022 Fisher of the Year award is Ms. Vonetta Dawson from Dangriga Town

Vonetta Dawson took up fishing while growing up on Tobacco Caye, off the coast of Dangriga Town, with her father who was also a fisherman. And today, she was recognized as the 2022 Fisher of the Year, during an award ceremony in Belize City.

Vonetta Dawson, Fisher of the Year 2022

"I really appreciate that they appreciate fishers more now. I thank my daughter, my sister for nominating me. I never really they expect this, cause I like do things behind the scene. I dah nuh wah open going person."

As a woman in the industry, Dawson says people often question her ability to perform like her male counterparts. But, with decades of experience out at sea, she has proven that she has what it takes to weather even the most dreadful storms out in the deep blue.

Vonetta Dawson

"The worst storm I ever faced, you watch that movie, Perfect Storm? It was something like that. That dah the worst one I ever faced, thinking I neva mih wah mek it home, suh I get my gas tank and tie it around my waist and everything, but thanks to dah man up deh we made it. That was like eena the Caribbean Sea across, and we had a storm just pop up pan we and we couldn't do nothing about it, but try stand it and get home safely. Being a woman in fishing, if you are not fishing with your spouse, or your dad, or your uncle. It is hard to get on another boat and fish, because they look at us as women and don't believe we dive, man the engine and haul the nets. But, we do exactly the same stuff as the guys does."

Dawson owns a twenty three feet boat named after her daughter Tisha. She engages mostly in deep sea fishing. But, with the opening of the lobster season, Dawson is preparing to fish lobster. Today, she was awarded a check for thirty five hundred dollars, along with several gift packages.

Paul Lopez

" You picked up the mantle from your dad, who picks up the mantle from you?"

Vonetta Dawson

"My sons, my sons love fishing. My daughter goes along sometimes but she is more like I am a tourist than is fishing and diving and stuff, but, both my son."

During today's ceremony, fishermen Jason Young and Marcio Gonzalez were also recognized as Outstanding Fishers of the Year.

Marcio Gonzalez, Outstanding Fisher of the Year 2022

"I have been a fisherman for twenty years or so. I began as a kid. From them I started. I was a cook in a sailboat for my uncles. I started learning and now I am a captain but also a fisherman. Yes we have lows we have highs with regards to the product. Like right now, the opening season is coming. We are going to encounter lobster right now. But after one or two trips it gets low."

Jason Young, Outstanding Fisher of the Year 2022

"I grow up in this. I am a third generation eena this, my father, my grandfather, so hopefully the tradition continues."

Channel 5

Congratulations to the two men and one woman, who were selected as outstanding fishers, and 2022 Fisher of the Year, respectively.

Pictured above (L-R) are Mr. Marcio Gonzalez, from Chunox, Corozal district; Ms Vonetta Dawson from Dangriga, Stann Creek district; and Mr. Jason Young from Rancho Dolores, Belize district.

Altogether, they have about 80 years experience as fishers.

They were recognized during a small ceremony this morning at UWI Open Campus - Online On Site On Demand facility in Belize City, the final event for Fisherfolk Month 2022, with the theme: "Collective Action for a Safe and Resilient Caribbean Fisheries," and coinciding with Caribbean Fisherfolk Day June 29.

The Fisher of the Year received $3,000, from The Nature Conservancy - TNC in Belize and Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation; plus a gift basket from Belize Electricity Limited, and souvenirs from Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association and Oceana Belize; and a glass plaque from WCS.

The two outstanding fishers received $1,250 each from TNC and MBECA, plus TASA and Oceana souvenirs.

WCS congratulates these men and woman, who exemplify the qualities of outstanding Belizean fishers.

Thanks to the nominators and the members of the planning committee for their hard work over the last month of activities!

Fisheries Department - Belize Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Caribbean Network of Fisher Organizations, and WCS!

Photo © D.Arzu/WCS

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