From the Yellow Dog Community & Conservation Foundation:
The effort to ban gillnets in Belizean fisheries has been a hotly debated subject for decades. With large sums of money exchanging hands (both legally and illegally), unfavorable political climates and private interest groups unable to reach a consensus, it’s no surprise that past initiatives for a ban have failed. However, the situation has changed and people are starting to fully realize a healthy fishery is much more than wildlife protection and reaches far into the Belizean economy affecting almost everyone’s lives.
The dangers gillnets pose to marine life are well documented and indiscriminately kill animals that are ensnared by them. Species that fall prey to gillnets are not only the marketable fish sought after by commercial fishermen but also permit, tarpon and bonefish, as well as sharks, manatees, sea turtles, and countless other marine species. Over the past year, environmental groups and fishermen in Belize have raised the alarm signaling a decline in fish stocks and that current gillnetting practices are unsustainable. But to outright ban gillnets means taking away a person’s livelihood who may depend on that net to support their family. With this in mind, a coalition of NGO’s, commercial and sport fisherman, lodge owners, guides and outfitters came together to find a solution. Out of the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries meetings came the idea to train gillnetters in a different trade, an alternative sustainable livelihood. Sustainable shrimp harvesting was proposed, and now with a curriculum and new training, this trade is currently being implemented. Potential alternatives also included training in tourism, seaweed farming, entrepreneurial training, and business mentorship as well as continued education.
As the proposal stands with the Belizean Government, the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries is committed to securing the necessary funds to transition licensed gillnetters to more sustainable ways of fishing or alternative livelihoods. Your donation is critical and will go directly to the Gillnet Transition Fund created by the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries in Belize. Please forward this email to your email lists and be sure to post on social media. This is of critical importance, and we need your help to spread the word and help raise the necessary funds.
For the first time in the history of Belize, a gillnet ban is now possible. Bigger than that, if Belize continues to move forward with the legislation banning gillnets throughout its marine environment, they will be the first country in the world to do so.
The link below will take you to the Go Fund Me campaign where we are trying to raise $1 million. We are on the cusp of a landmark victory for Belizean fisheries and citizens. With the gillnet ban the closest it’s EVER been to succeeding, please play your part in pushing the initiative over the final hurdle. Any donation amount is welcomed and appreciated in addition to helping us spread awareness and information.
For more information please contact:
Associate Director – Yellow Dog Community & Conservation Foundation