The Coalition Proposal

The Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries recently submitted a formal proposal to the Belize Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry and Sustainable Development to phase out and eliminate gillnets from Belizean waters.

This proposal includes a transition period during which licensed gillnet fishermen will be trained in alternative livelihoods or alternative sustainable fishing methods and the Coalition has committed to raising up to US$1,000,000 to fund this transition. Depending on the timing of the legislation, gillnets will hopefully be banned in Belize by 2020.

How will Transition Funds be Used

Organizations of fishermen, such as The Belize Federation of Fishers (BFF), will be actively involved in recommending and instituting alternatives that are desirable and feasible for gillnet fishermen. These may include transitioning to other more sustainable fishing methods or other employment opportunities including tourism.

Funds will also be used for collecting and destroying nets in an environmentally friendly manner. In some cases, particularly with older gillnet fishers who do not wish to be retrained, short-term direct compensation will be considered.

Pilot Alternative Livelihood Project

A pilot project has been initiated for gillnet fishermen expressing an interest in giving up their gillnets before the ban is even enacted. Funded by Turneffe Atoll Trust and Yellow Dog Conservation and Community Foundation, this project is being overseen by fishermen through the Belize Federation of Fishers. This trial project uses traps to sustainably harvest shrimp, avoiding environmentally destructive shrimp trawling — which was banned in 2003 — and polluting shrimp aquaculture. This project is in its initial trial stage and several gillnet fishermen have expressed a strong interest in being involved.

To learn more about the Coalition’s Alternative Livelihood Pilot Program, read here.