Caribeņa Producers Cooperative Limited celebrated 37 years of business at its Annual General Meeting last Sunday at the Lions Den. Mr. Manuel Heredia Jr., Chairman of the Management Committee called the meeting to order and Mr. Lucito Guerrero led the gathering in a short prayer. Mr. Heredia then took great pride in introducing the invited guests who had traveled from different parts of the country and abroad. Invited guests were Ms. Beverly Wade, Fisheries Department Administrator; Ms. Athen Marin and Dr. David Brown, also from Fisheries; Mr. Aaron Ogaldes from the Department of Co-op; Ms. Nidia Aguileta from the Belize Fishing Cooperative Association; other representatives from the Placencia and National Co-ops and special friends from Cuba.
Mr. Severo Guerrero Jr., presently enrolled at St. John's College/Junior College and a fisherman in his spare time, gave the opening address. Severo spoke of the young and fruitful days at the fishing cooperative in San Pedro and the unfortunate decline of the industry. He continued by mentioning the important role the Belizean fishermen play in helping this industry to survive.
Mr. George Kumul, Manager of Caribeņa then read the minutes of the 36th AGM followed by a report of the managing committee for the fiscal year 1999/2000. In his Chairman's report, Mr. Heredia mentioned an increase of 4,018 pounds in lobster production from last year. Out of the total amount (18,310), 16,453 pounds were delivered to National Cooperative and the balance was sold locally. Once again, conch production showed a decrease. The audited statements, including balance sheet, proposed budget, etc. approved at the last general meeting were then quickly reviewed. Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade was the guest speaker for this occasion and emphasized on the significance of the fishing industry and how it has helped our country to develop. She also spoke of the importance of unity among the fishing cooperatives.
Another highlight of the meeting was the presentation of cash awards to fishermen with the most produce for the season. First prize for the highest amount of lobster went to Ramiro Guillen and second prize to Wilfredo Alamilla Sr. Receiving the first and second prize awards, respectively, for the most conch were Armando Acosta and Eliezer Rivero. First prize for the largest amount of stone crab went to Wilfredo Alamilla Sr. Once again, the same committee was nominated to serve as officers. They will meet in the near future to elect the officers.
Many raffles were conducted during the meeting but only members present were eligible to win. Mr. Justo Gotay, an officer on the Management Committee gave the vote of thanks which was followed by a celebration in honor of one more year of service to the fishing industry of San Pedro. Congratulations to all the hard working members that make up Caribeņa Producers Cooperative Society Limited.