Shark fishing causes outrage on social media

By Michelle Sutherland
Staff Reporter

Pictures showing two men posing with dead sharks caught in Southern Belize this week caused outrage and condemnation by citizens as well as several non-governmental organizations, who called on the relevant authorities to step in and address the issue.

Mar Alliance was the first to condemn the two fishers who had just landed, and mocked several globally endangered great hammerheads: a nurse shark, which is fully protected under the Belize Fisheries law, as well as an apparently pregnant rare tiger shark.

Oceana Belize also chimed in on the issue and said that while shark fishing is not illegal in Belize, except for the closed season, what is lacking is the level of transparency as it relates to the names and photographs of everyone licensed to fish for shark in the country.
Oceana believes that the names of the fishers should be made available on a public platform so that the relevant authorities can monitor them along with the assistance of the public, so Belizeans can see who is accessing their resources, how they are doing so and where the extracted products are ending up.

Social media post by local fisherman provokes concern for the eradication of shark fishing practices in Belize.

Social media post by local fisherman provokes concern for the eradication of shark fishing practices in Belize.

Oceana also wanted to know whether the fishermen had the required permits to export the hammerheads (fins and meat), as well as whether the death of the nurse shark will be classified as a clear breach of the law by the fishermen.

Several calls to the Fisheries Department in Belize City were fruitless as the Department stated it would not issue any official statement on the matter, except to say that shark fishing in Belize is a legal practice and as a result the men will not be facing any legal penalties.

Rangers in Southern Belize have confirmed that the men were in possession of the legal documents to fish in Belizean waters. Additionally, at last count there were 65 registered shark fishers in the country.

According to fisheries personnel, the only way to ban shark fishing in Belize is if the community bonds together and campaigns for its eradication, which could possibly persuade Cabinet members and government officials to make amendments to the current legislation regarding shark fishing.

Earlier this month the Fisheries Department issued a release confirming that the shark fishing season was officially declared opened for the period November 1st, 2017, to July 31st, 2018.

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