SPTGA questions Sports Fishing license law

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 20, No. 9            March 4, 2010

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Anyone who wants to catch a fish must first obtain a fishing license.

    The San Pedro Tour Guide Association (SPTGA) held a general meeting last Thursday at the San Pedro Lions Den where issues impacting the Tour Guides within the community were dealt with. However, the two biggest issues were the explanation of the Sport Fishing License law and the proposed Sardine Statutory Instrument.

    Present for the brief explanation of the Fishing License was Colin Gillet of the Coastal Zone Management Authority Institute (CZMAI). During his brief presentation, Gillet explained that anyone who wants to catch a fish must first obtain a fishing license which bears a cost of $20 per week, $50 per month and $100 per year. In an interview with Billy Leslie, President of SPTGA, there was much opposition to the Fishing Act for two important reasons: The Pricing System and the fact that all Belizeans are being charged the fees. During the meeting, many made their displeasure visible through their comments. Many believe that only sports fishermen should require a license to fish and not the ordinary Belizean fishing off of the end of a dock. According to Leslie, the economic crisis will affect those that are unable to purchase a license. Leslie explained that the $20 a day fee is higher than what is collected for the same license in other neighboring countries. Under the law, anyone, Belizean or tourist, who attempts to catch one snapper for dinner is required to have a license. This was corroborated by Gillet during an interview, explaining that anyone that throws a line at sea in an attempt to catch fish needs to have a license. However, he further stated that exemptions will be carried out, for example, based on age and location of fishing. “These are still being worked out,” he explained. Other issues being worked out include the location where individuals may purchase a fishing license on the island and what is the process of getting one. Leslie and those present expressed their intention to take the matter before the Minister of Fisheries Rene Montero. Presently SPTGA is working on a petition which individuals who are not in accordance to the new law may sign. Within the next two weeks, this petition will be delivered to the Minister. “We are working on this petition with our counterparts across the country, not only San Pedro,” he stated.

    Another item on the agenda was the presentation of the Fisheries Statutory Instrument (SI) in regards to Sardines. The proposed SI states: Regulation 9 of the Principal Regulations is hereby amended by the insertion of the following: (9.01) No sardines, order Harengula and Sardinella, shall be caught for the purpose of sale. (9.02) No person (s) shall have in possession more than five (5) pounds of sardine at any one time. (9.03) Any person wanting to have more than five (5) pounds of sardines at any one time shall apply to the Fisheries Administrator. Leslie stated that the Amendments are being reviewed before being passed into law. Anyone with recommendations on the proposed amendment is asked to kindly contact SPTGA office with their suggestions.

    After SPTGA’s financial status was reviewed, it was decided that elections for the organization should take place in the general meeting scheduled for June 17th. For information on the petition and the Fisheries SI amendment, the general public may contact SPTGA’s office located on Barrier Reef Drive from Monday to Friday between 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. or by calling 226-2391 or emailing tourguides@btl.net.

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