On November 5th, in a landmark step to protect livelihoods and strengthen marine conservation, the Government of Belize passed the Statutory Instrument 158 of 2020 titled Fisheries Resources (Gill Net Prohibition) Regulations 2020, banning the possession and use of gillnets in Belize’s marine territorial seas, Exclusive Economic Zone and internal waters. With this historic policy change, Belize becomes one of the first countries in the world to put an end to gillnet fishing in its territorial waters. Following hard-fought victories that banned all trawling and offshore oil drilling in Belize’s waters, the country has now outlawed gillnets; this destructive and indiscriminate fishing gear kills turtles, manatees and many other marine animals. However, Belize didn’t stop just there. The Government of Belize signed an agreement with Oceana and the Coalition of Sustainable Fisheries to help all (legal) licensed gillnet fishers transition to other jobs.
The ban on gillnets covers Belize’s entire marine territory. This means that more than 36,000 square kilometers of the Caribbean Sea is now fully protected from gillnets, all forms of trawling and offshore oil activity.
– Janelle Chanona, Vice President of Oceana Belize