The enacted Sport Fishing Law has stirred quite a controversy in the past few weeks nationwide. From North to South, people have voiced their concerns about the Law. In San Pedro Town, the San Pedro Tour Guide Association has taken a stand, in conjunction with other related agencies countrywide, and circulated a petition which will be delivered to the Ministry of Fisheries. Signatures were requested up to March 10th and according to Billy Leslie, President, over 1,000 people placed their names on the dotted lines. Strong voices that are standing together for one purpose which will be made clear in a draft of suggested amendments which will be presented to Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI).
A press release issued by CZMAI has recognized the fact that amendments need to be made. A press release was issued on Thursday, March 11th stating the following: The Coastal Zone Management Authority wishes to inform the public about certain changes that will soon be made to the new Sport Fishing legislation, S.I 115 of 2009.
The term ‘Sport Fishing’ will now be amended to define in more detail what sport fishing is and those groups that will be required to hold sport fishing licenses.
A Sport Fishing license will now be needed by two main groups of fishermen. Visitors (non-Belizeans, non-permanent residents), and Sport fishermen (Belizean or otherwise) who are looking to target the main Sport Fish species as listed in the Fisheries legislation (S.I.114 of 2009).
Exemptions are now being granted to all tour guides of Belize who possess a valid tour guide license upon application to the CZMA. Consideration is now being taken for full exemption for these tour guides.
In an effort to stimulate the love of fishing in our young people children under the age of 16 and ease the burden on elderly persons over the age of 65, exemptions for these two groups of anglers will also now be granted.
Exemptions will also now be granted to anglers who are simply fishing from a dock or pier as well as those who are fishing from the sea shore.
Another amendment to S.I. 115 of 2009 will only require the angler that is fishing to hold a sport fishing license. Other passengers who are not fishing will not need a sport fishing license.
The CZMAI remains committed to working closely with all stakeholders to allow for a smooth implementation of the new regulations.
Any questions about these new changes can be forwarded to the CZMA offices on Princess Margaret Dr. in Belize City or telephones: 501-223-0719, 501-223-5739 or 501-223-2616.