By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter
An amendment on the Forestry Act has increased security for protected areas, by increasing the payable fine for violations from $500.00 to $20,000.
Amanda Acosta, executive director of the Belize Audubon Society (BAS) stated that the regulation should help lessen the number of fishermen daring into conserved areas to fish.
She stated that the Society suggested the new fine as they noticed that fishermen were apathetic to the $500.00 fine since they were making a lot more out of merchandise they took from protected areas.
As of now, the demarcated areas are within the Barrier Reef and no fisherman is allowed to fish outside of them.
Acosta explained that the idea is for there to be a marine creatures spill-over. Although fishing at large takes place within the Barrier Reef, the overflow of fishes that come from the protected areas supply it with an abundance of creatures from which fishermen can take.
“The idea of a no-take [zone] is that you have a spill-over effect,” Acosta stated.
However, fishermen still dare to fish outside of the Reef, taking risks of being apprehended by the Coast Guard. They are aware that there is an abundance of marine life in the no-take areas outside of the Barrier Reef and they can benefit from it.
“We will be doing a lot of education to educate fishermen on the new legislation so they are aware that the fine has increased,” Acosta added.
When it comes to protected sites, which the Society manages, Acosta shared that the sustainability of the sites are very important for economical and historical impacts that they have on the country’s economy.
(Picture courtesy: portofinobelize.com)