Dwayne Garcia: The Frontline Hero Honored for His Dedication to Belize’s Fisheries

by Khaila Gentle

For the past three decades, Placencia native Dwayne Garcia has dedicated his life to Belize’s fisheries and marine conservation. For his years of service, including one daring rescue mission, he has been awarded the Belize Tourism Board’s Frontline Hero Award. A man whose journey to where he is today (Coxswain and Captain at the Conservation Compliance Unit (CCU) of the Belize Fisheries Department) is nothing short of extraordinary, Garcia has been recognized by the BTB as “a shining example of heroism in Belize.”

A Love for Life at Sea 

Placencia, Belize. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Dwayne Garcia’s path toward Belize’s Fisheries Department began in the coastal village of Placencia, Belize. Although today the village – and the entire Peninsula with it – has seen the rise of tourism and foreign investment, fishing was once its lifeblood. Garcia’s father was a fisherman, which undoubtedly helped fuel his passion for the sea.

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At the young age of sixteen, he left Placencia with a desire to work for the Fisheries Department. Unable to meet the minimum age requirement of eighteen, however, he had to settle for volunteering at first. From there, Garcia continued to work in the Department, learning to captain Belize’s seas as he did so and rising in rank and notoriety with time.

 

“In the year 2000, Dwayne’s dedication and passion for his job culminated in a well-deserved promotion, solidifying his reputation as one of Belize’s finest captains. His expertise and boat handling skills have made him a sought-after figure by the tourism sector, various government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.”
-Belize Tourism Board

 

Today, Garcia holds vast knowledge in a variety of fields, from law enforcement and safety to rescue diving.

Dwayne Garcia Receives the Frontline Hero Award

Captain Dwayne Garcia checks the weight of caught conch.

The Fisheries Department of Belize plays a vital role in the conservation of the country’s marine resources. As a part of the Conservation Compliance Unit, Captain Dwayne Garcia helps to enforce the country’s fisheries laws. The job, of course, includes ensuring that fishers catch marine species like queen conch and spiny lobster only when in season and only at the legal size. He also helps educate fisherfolk on the importance of responsible fishing practices.

Garcia’s heroism, however, shone brightest when he and his team responded to a distress call during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the BTB, the challenging times brought about by the pandemic led to a brief rise in sea piracy. Upon receiving a distress call from a group of fishermen who had been robbed and stranded at sea, Garcia and his team navigated treacherous waters and brought the men to safety.

“After 30 years of dedicated service, Dwayne Garcia has proven himself to be an asset to marine conservation and fisheries efforts,” said the BTB. Along with his award, Captain Garcia has received a $1,500 cash prize and a two-night stay for two at Sirenian Bay Resort & Villas.

Featured: Dwayne Garcia and Director of Tourism, Evan Tillett. Images courtesy Belize Tourism Board

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