It’s a way of life
Growing up in Southern Belize with the Caribbean Sea as their own personal playground, it’s no surprise that the Garbutt brothers have become heavyweights in all things fish, flats and fun in Belize.
Born and bred Belizean fishermen, Dennis, Eworth, Scully, and Oliver come from a long line of fisherfolk, with the Garbutt name being no stranger to the world of fishing. The brothers were raised in the quaint village of Punta Negra in Belize’s most southern district, Toledo.
“It’s the most beautiful life, I wouldn’t change it for anything.”– Eworth
For this family, fishing wasn’t just a hobby, it was their livelihood, a differentiation unbeknownst to the brothers growing up, for whom it was a way of life. At a young age, the Garbutt brothers began handline fishing and gillnets. Eventually, they found their way to a life of fly fishing in the early 90s.
After years of working for other local lodges, the brothers decided to branch out and create a legacy of their own. Their journey from commercial fishing to sports fishing didn’t always go as planned, but they can all agree that it’s been worthwhile. Now owners of Garbutt’s Marine Investment Company Limited, the umbrella company for Garbutt’s Fishing Lodge and their family lodge at Lime Caye, the brothers’ success is a testament to the value of sustainable fishing methods. With business operations in both Placencia and Punta Gorda, they are helping propel Belize to the top of the flats fishing industry as both beneficiaries and custodians of some of the world’s finest flats fishing.
The Transition to Sustainable Fishing
As fly fishers with plenty of experience on our waters, the Garbutt men found a way to first diversify their streams of income, and then completely transitioned from commercial to sports fishing – all while earning more and doing their part to protect our ecologically and economically important marine resources. When discussing defining moments in their journey to sustainable fishing, their most prominent memory was seeing the damage to the coral and fish stock in the areas of Punta Negra and Monkey River caused by fishermen who were setting “lobster nets” that caught and destroyed everything in their path.
The promotion of more environmentally-friendly activities, coupled with the desire to offer that homelike feeling, has allowed the Garbutt’s to build their business from the ground up. Their choice to move away from commercial fishing has also inspired other fisherfolk around them to do the same. Realizing the value of it, fishermen are now catching and releasing the same fish they would once have put on the market scale. Exploring the sports fishing sector has not only motivated others to do the same, but it also gave them the opportunity to provide for their families and communities in a more meaningful way.
The Garbutt brothers are not only businessmen but also active members of various fishing associations, advocating for more sustainable fishing practices. As men who focus on long-term sustainability, an issue they are very passionate about is the banning of gillnets, having witnessed the destruction by this gear themselves. In an effort to take care of our Belizean waters, something that has always taken care of and provided for them, they support a 100% ban on gillnets with room for meaningful alternatives.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON TO GAIN FROM THE GARBUTT BROTHERS?
It’s knowing that you don’t exist in isolation and that we live in a shared environment, then having this knowledge leads us to discover methods that benefit our marine life in the long run. As Eworth once said, “People nuh come da Belize fu eat beef, they come here to eat fish – to look at fish, eat fish, swim with fish, catch fish – it’s all about fish. We’re talking about preservation.”
“Whatever we did, whether commercial or sports fishing – it was always together.”– Eworth
Interested in all things fishing, flats, and fun?
Written by Martinique Fabro, Oceana Belize
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