Editor’s note — Kristen Spruill is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology. While at UNCW, she worked on an independent research project looking at the effects of ocean acidification on coral and algal communities. She is currently working on implementing microfiltration applications to restore at risk or impaired waters.
By Kristen Spruill
Belize is taking the initiative in creating and managing a local and sustainable fishery. I spoke with Andres Aldana, the Managed Access Coordinator for the Belize Fisheries Department about the implementation of the Managed Access program, a form of catch shares.
Prior to the recent changes in Belize, the fishing industry worked within an open access fishery, allowing anyone with a commercial fishing license access to the beautiful waters of Belize. Now with managed access in place, the number of fishermen allowed to fish within the marine reserves is limited to fishermen with their managed access license.
In July of 2011, a pilot project was launched in two marine reserve sites to test the effectiveness of the managed access program: Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Glovers Reef Marine Reserve. One of the problems facing Port Honduras was that fishermen were coming from out of country to fish during the night and day to sell their products back home. The success of the managed access program has decreased the incidents of illegal fishermen in the area, allowing local fishermen to feed the economy. Fishermen now have a secure site that allows greater flexibility and freedom to fish when they want.
Due to the success of the pilot projects, the decision to implement managed access to all the reserves sites was made in July 2013. Currently, they are engaging in an immersion phase where representative are visiting various communities to meet the fishermen that utilize the reserve sites. Afterwards, surveys will be conducted to determine the strategy on implementing the Managed Access program to the reserve sites.
Belize is aware of the current state of our oceans and fisheries, and is taking the necessary steps towards creating a sustainable and local fishery.
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.