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Supreme Court Says Gillnet Judgement Good

Posted By: Marty

Supreme Court Says Gillnet Judgement Good - 06/15/21 10:55 AM

3 months ago, we showed you the members of the Belize Fishermen Cooperative who were agitating against the ban on gillnets, which was implemented by the Barrow Administration.

6 days before the election, the former Minister of Fisheries, Omar Figueroa, signed Statutory Instrument which made it illegal to use gillnets in Belize.

Some fisher folk have welcomed the ban as a progressive step to phase out a type of destructive fishing gear. But, as we showed you back in March, the pro-gillnet fishermen from the BFCA are insisting that the ban was too heavy-handed and that it is negatively impacting this traditional fishing practice, based on what they insist is propaganda.

Well, their attorney, Nazira Myles, went before Justice Westmin James with an application to bring a judicial review case against the ban. The pro-gillnet fishermen were seeking several declarations against the SI which formalizes the ban, including their position that the Government passed it without proper consultation of the BFCA.

After listening to arguments from both sides, Justice James delivered a written judgment today, and in it, he noted that the government did conduct extensive consultations and that the BFCA were allowed to participate.

In his written decision, the judge says, quote, "There is no reason for thinking that the Minister or the government lacked a proper appreciation of the Applicant's views and arguments on the ban on gillnets or that they did not take time to consider them. The Applicant had been part of the Task Force with the Ministry with full opportunity to advocate and make representations and I can't see why there is any justification for arguing they should have been given another round of consultation with the Applicant before the passing of the SI 158 of 2020." End quote.

With that, the judge ruled that this claim had no reasonable prospect of success, and he dismissed their application for judicial review. They now have 21 days to enter an application for permission to appeal the court's decision.

Oceana Belize was one of the 2 organizations that worked with the government on a funded transition away from gillnet for fisher folks.

Keeping a close eye on the case and reacting to the outcome, their Vice President, Janelle Chanona, said quote, "The Court's decision confirms the thoroughness of the process and the integrity of the ban." End quote.

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