Commercial fishermen are leading the movement to ban gillnets in Belize. They recognize that gillnets have led to major declines in their fish stocks and they are concerned about the future of their fishery and their livelihoods. Of more than 2,500 licensed fishermen in Belize, only 83 are currently licensed as gillnet fishermen based on the official report provided by the Fisheries Department.
“As Director of the Belize Federation of Fishers, I can state that this ban is the top priority for our members. Banning gillnets throughout Belizean waters is very important to our fishermen because gillnets represent an outdated and indiscriminate fishing method which threatens the health of our fish stocks,” said Nigel Martinez.
Gillnets are the fishing gear of choice for illegal fishermen including those from Guatemala and Honduras. These foreign poachers regularly fish in Belizean waters to harvest Belizean fish for illegal export. Countering this invasion by our neighbors is difficult, but a gillnet ban would significantly enhance enforcement capabilities since any net found would be deemed illegal.
The Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries (CSF) is a group of conservation organizations, commercial fishermen, tourism representatives and sports fishing enthusiasts with a single priority: to ban gillnets in Belize. The Coalition recently presented a formal proposal to the government calling for an end to all gillnet fishing in Belizean waters following a one-year phase-out period. This proposal includes a commitment by the Coalition to provide at least $1,000,000 BZ to assist licensed gillnet fishermen in transitioning to more sustainable fishing methods and/or other alternative livelihoods.
The Coalition calls upon all Belizeans to become more informed about the initiative to ban gill nets in Belize by visiting our official website https://www.bangillnetsbelize.com/. We ask that you share this information with your friends and neighbors and express your views to your local Government officials. Please also support the Coalition’s fundraising efforts by donating to the Gillnet Transition Fund’s GoFundMe page or contact us if you want to support but not use the go fund me Page. Banning gillnets in Belize will be a major positive step towards ensuring that our marine resources are protected for Belize’s economic future and the future of our children.