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Corozaleno, Carlos Arevalo wins Fisher of the Year Award 2024

HighlightsCorozaleno, Carlos Arevalo wins Fisher of the Year Award 2024

Photo: (l-r) Paula Williams, Outstanding Fisher, and Carlos Arevalo, Fisher of the Year, holding their award

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 27, 2024

In recognition of Fisher Folk Month, celebrated every June, Belize City hosted the Fisher of the Year Award ceremony today at the University of the West Indies Global Campus, Belize, located on Princess Margaret Drive in Belize City. Three fishers were recognized for their dedication to fishing and their efforts in protecting the environment.

Fishers from across the country were nominated for their experience and contributions. Ultimately, Carlos Arevalo, Suzette Jacobs, and Paula Williams were honored with awards.

“These finalists are role models, not only in the fishing sector but also in their communities and families,” said Ralna Lamb-Lewis, the Assistant Country Director (Marine Program) at Wildlife Conservation Society.

Carlos Arevalo, from Chunox, Corozal, was named Fisher of the Year. He was nominated by two people, one of whom is his son, who is also a fisher. It was his son who led him to think that the ceremony was initially a meeting, which made it possible for the award to be a surprise.

“It was a surprise, and I feel very thankful to the organization because in one way it inspires the fishermen. I feel glad as a fisherman from the north, representing right now, and being nominated. For me it’s a pleasure. It’s like something that I didn’t … I didn’t imagine,” Arevalo said.

With 20 years in the industry, Arevalo is also the chairman of the Chunox Fishermen Association. He has witnessed significant environmental changes.

“I see the challenges of fishermen — climate change — one of the great challenges that we have. I see the decline of production that we have on the sea. The water of Belize is for me like gold; and like somebody told me, it’s not only blood, it’s Belize waters I have that in my veins,” Arevalo said. “Now it’s advising the fishermen to take care of our waters, and also the youths play a big role right now, because in the fishing community, there are a lot of youths that want to go fish. It’s not something bad; it’s good, but we also have to take care of [the water],” he further explained.

Suzette Jacobs and Paula Williams, sister fishers from Punta Negra, Toledo, were also recognized as Outstanding Fishers of the Year. Paula Williams accepted the award on behalf of her sister, who couldn’t attend.

Williams, the president of the newly formed Women in Fisheries Association, has been involved in fishing since she was a young girl. Her goal is to empower women and young people in the fishing industry.

“To me, this is a great thing because they have never really recognized women. This recognition shows us that we have been doing a good job,” she said.

The ceremony, now in its 10th year, was organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society in collaboration with various fishing organizations, including the Department of Fisheries and the Ministry of Blue Economy and Disaster Risk Management.

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