Protecting Belize from Foreign Trawlers
News of Jamaican trawlers entering Belize’s southern waters in December to fish led to a decisive agreement by the Ministry of Fisheries to halt the issuing of fishing licenses to foreign fishing fleets in Belize’s Exclusive Economic Zone pending consultation with local fishermen. The action will allow officials to assess the sustainability of the proposed venture and ensure it does not displace local artisanal fishing communities. This decision is critical since the government is in the process of drafting regulations to exclude destructive fishing gears to protect vulnerable fin fish species such as parrot fish and Nassau grouper. Oceana’s new office in Belize called on the Government of Belize to suspend all plans and proposals to allow foreign fleets in territorial waters, until the proper groundwork on their viability and overall benefits can be ascertained. Some foreign companies are seeking 15-year development concessions, putting them in direct competition with local Belizeans.