Editorial

Editorial

No one in the media has seen the new
Coastal Management Plan, but we can say
with some confidence that if it does not
contain a strong statement to abolish the
use of gill nets in Belizean waters, it is not
a complete and comprehensive management
plan, and the European Economic
Community, which is paying for the project,
should be informed. . The use of gill nets has been condemned
by fishermen and fishing cooperatives
since the late 1900’s, and by
environmentalists for much longer. But
it is still legal practice in Belize, and
the technique is still in widespread use.
The Belize Ministry of Agriculturea
and Fisheries has over the years established
several marine protected areas,
declared a dozen or more no-fishing zones,
and gone to great lengths to protect the
barrier reef. The ministry has even summoned
up the courage, long overdue, to
banish trawlers from our fishing grounds.
But for some obscure reason it has
balked at approaching the gill net problem.
. Gill nets are ruinous to Belizean
fisheries. They do nothing to promote
or conserve self-sustaining fisheries in
Belize. Gill nets destroy fin fish on a
fiendish scale, trapping commercial varieties
and trash fish with equal abandon.
Trash fish may not have commercial
value to fishermen, but they are part of
the food chain, and the good commercial
fish depend on trash fish for food.
The wanton waste imposed by gill nets
cannot be justified by any line of reasoning.
It represents pure, unmitigated
greed by a band of marauders who don’t
have the decency to be bona fide fishermen
and who resort to plunder by stealth.
These faceless men of the night cause
indiscriminate damage to the fish population,
throwing away sometimes half of
what they catch in their nets. . Gill net fishing continues today because
the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries
is not motivated to put an end
to this ugly practice. . This is hard to accept, but what other
reason could there be? Is it possible
that a certain fishing cooperative is secretely
lobbying for the practice to
continue while publicly giving lip support
to the conscientious people who
want the practice to end ? ? We don’t know. But today we are publicly
calling on Deputy Prime Minister
Gappy Vega to give a reason why he has
not moved to persuade the Cabinet that
it must put an end to gill net fishing.

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