The Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries

The Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries was formed in August 2018 to advocate for a gillnet ban throughout Belize. This group of conservation organizations, tourism organizations, sports fishermen, and most importantly, commercial fishermen, has come together to see that Belize’s dynamic fishery is protected through a gillnet ban. The Coalition is in the process of forming an official non-governmental organization.

Our Mission & Plan

Without healthy and sustainable fish populations, Belize’s entire marine ecosystem is in jeopardy. Our Mission is to ensure the sustainability of Belize’s essential fisheries by banning gillnets and through other necessary actions.

The Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries believes in a productive and sustainably managed commercial fishery, as well as a vibrant sport fishery providing good jobs for Belizeans. Banning gillnets is a priority for accomplishing our mission.

We are advocating for a phase-out of gillnetting throughout all Belizean waters which will include a period (likely one year) for training gillnet fishermen in opportunities for transitioning to alternative sustainable livelihoods.

What We’ve Achieved To-Date

  • Several organizations and many individuals have been working hard on a gillnet ban for several months. Thus far, we have obtained support from:

    • Belize Federation of Fishers - the largest commercial fishing organization in Belize

    • Key Ministers of government and other key government officials

    • The Belize National Sport Fishing Association and the Belize Game Fish Association

    • Numerous Belize-based conservation organizations

    • Numerous international conservation organizations

    • Belize’s tourism industry

    • All of Belize’s Sport Fishing Lodges and fishing guides

  • Produced a detailed analysis on the effects of gillnet fishing in Belize, “Net Loss or Net Gain, published in March, 2019

  • Initiated a multi-faceted media campaign in Belize

  • Compiled letters of support from lodges, guides and outfitters in Belize as well as international businesses and presented them to government officials

  • Formed a legally-recognized NGO within Belize - the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries

  • Initiated an alternative livelihood pilot program with sustainable shrimp trapping

    • Purchased 10 shrimp traps to begin a trial

    • Began training Belizean fishermen on how to sustainably trap shrimp

    • Sent two Belizean fisherman to Maine for training on fishing with traps

  • Identified several leading gillnetters throughout the commercial fishing community who have expressed a willingness to give up their nets and enter the alternative livelihoods pilot program

  • Received funding to begin a pilot alternative livelihood program

  • Initiated an international media and marketing campaign

Gillnet Ban Status

We have generated strong support for this ban throughout the commercial fishing and tourism sectors. A Task Force has been formed by the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry and Sustainable Development to evaluate the proposed gillnet ban and the majority of Task Force members now appear to be aligned with our position. Our extensive public relations campaign has generated good results and we feel that a majority of the Belizean public now understands and agrees with the need for a gillnet ban. Government support for our effort appears to be expanding and we are cautiously optimistic that this important legislation will be enacted this year.

coalition Members

Become a coalition member

If your organization is interested in sustainable fisheries and supports our mission to protect Belize’s exceptional marine environment, we welcome your involvement. Please let us know if you wish to join Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries.

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