Features — 30 January 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie
“Fish Right, Eat Right”

BELIZE CITY, Tues., Jan. 26, 2016–“To the average Belizean, savoring seafood is a national pastime…it is also by paying homage to the hardworking fishermen who brave the open seas every day to satisfy our hunger for the best seafood. The Belizeans dishes are special; there is just some extra special, crunchy, tasty delectableness in that whole fried snapper, sere, hudut and panades that make it finger-licking good.” Alyssa Carnegie, communications director of Oceana, remarked at the launching of a local brand “Fish Right, Eat Right.”

“Moving forward, the onus is on you, the consumer, not only to enjoy those delicious meals, but to enjoy it responsibly by insisting that your source complied with fisheries regulations”, she said.

Oceana in Belize, Nature Conservancy, the Fisheries Department, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Environmental Defense Fund, the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) are embarking on a campaign to ensure that responsible consumption and fishing practices are adapted. Today at Hour Bar, they launched their local brand “Fish Right, Eat Right,” under which they will be promoting this new initiative.

“The biggest thing to impact food and food production within the last decade is traceability. Around the world, consumers are demanding to know where their food came from, how it was handled in-transit, even how it was produced — for example, were the mashed potatoes made with pesticide-free potatoes? This reality is firmly rooted in terrestrial industries and now attention is shifting to the seafood trade,” Carnegie said.

Therefore, Belize’s fisheries management is transitioning from open access to managed access, and part of that new approach involves launching programs such as “Fish Right, Eat Right”, Carnegie said.

Julie Robinson of The Nature Conservancy said, “The goal of this certification program is to curb illegal fishing and to promote best practices.” Robinson explained how the program will work: the establishments that comply with their initiative to promote sustainable fishing will receive the “Fish Right, Eat Right” brand that they will display in their restaurants.

Robinson added, “It will help to make it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices and to ensure also the health of our oceans and the freshness of the products.”

John Burgos, executive director of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, said that the initiative is not only for the fishermen, or restaurants or hoteliers, or NGOs, or government, but it is community-based, using a “holistic approach” to get everyone involved so that fishing resources in Belize will be around for generations to come.

“It is not about stopping fishermen from fishing, but making sure fishermen can fish forever. Achieving this kind of supply chain transparency may sound ambitious, but the truth is that it is well within reach; we just need to push beyond business as usual.” Carnegie said.

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