On February 15th, it was announced that a Task Force was being assembled to, quote, “reduce Harmful Effects of Gill Nets on Marine Life.”
Well, almost 6 months later, the members appointed to that body will convene for their first session tomorrow afternoon in Belmopan. Members of the Task Force include commercial fishers, sport fishers, the Belize Coast Guard marine protected area co-managers as well as officials from the Department of Fisheries and PACT.
Groups such as Oceana and enforcement agencies like the Coast Guard have maintained that a phase out of the nets would support Belize’s efforts at sustainable fisheries management.
But, there’s a wrinkle. It appears that an important voice is actually in favor of keeping gillnets legal. According to a position paper prepared by the Belize Fisheries Department gillnets should stay. They say gillnets are easy to use and cost effective, bycatch is a problem with all fishing gear, and that gillnets have been here for a long time. Notably, a poll shows that only 169 of the 2,716 commercially licensed fishers use gillnets.
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